Keillor to celebrate 40th anniversary of 'Prairie Home Companion' this weekend


"A Prairie Home Companion" host Garrison Keillor is celebrating the show's 40th anniversary this Fourth of July weekend at the place where it all started, the Star Tribune reports.

Keillor will be returning to Macalester College for a three-day festival July 4-6. He broadcast the first "Prairie Home" show at Macalester on July 6, 1974.

The festival calendar features entertainment both day and night Friday and Saturday, and day events Sunday. More than 50 performers are scheduled to participate in the festival, including some of those who were featured on the first "Prairie Home" show.

The spotlight event Friday night – the "40 Years, 40 Songs" concert – still has limited lawn tickets available. The expanded three-hour broadcast of "A Prairie Home Companion" starting at 5 p.m. Saturday is sold out.

Keillor is also scheduled to take part in a community singalong Sunday afternoon in the Macalester field house.

"We intended the show to last for a year, or maybe two, but just as we were about to quit, the show started to draw an audience, 50, 100, 200 people coming to see it on Saturday night, and we kept going so we could figure out what we were doing right," Keillor recalled on the "Prairie Home" website.

According to the Pioneer Press, "Prairie Home" is now heard by 4 million listeners a week on more than 600 public radio stations nationwide. The first broadcast of the show 40 years ago was digitally preserved in the Library of Congress in 2004, the Associated Press said.

Minnesota Public Radio has a clip from the first historic broadcast.

In addition to the radio show, "Prairie Home" was adapted in a feature film in 2006.

Directed by the late Robert Altman, the film attracted an all-star cast, including Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Lily Tomlin, Lindsay Lohan, Woody Harrelson, John C. Reilly, Maya Rudolph, Virginia Madsen and Tommy Lee Jones.

The film, shot on location at the show's regular home at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, also featured Keillor and such "Prairie Home" regulars as Tim Russell and Sue Scott.

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