Quick Q&A: Garrison Keillor

The creator of <em>A Prairie Home Companion</em> shares his expertise on Ferris wheels before taking the Indiana State Fair stage on August 12.
You’re performing at a few State Fairs on this tour. What’s your favorite fair food?

A person has to get a corn dog, corn on the cob, and some miniature doughnuts. After that, it’s a matter of personal preference.


Are you more of a bumper cars or Ferris wheel guy?

I am a double Ferris wheel guy—two wheels at the ends of a long beam that itself revolves. You ride it at night, with an excitable female clutching onto you as you gaze at the horizon bravely.


Did you ever go to the Minnesota State Fair growing up?

We went every year. Mother gave us each $5 and set us loose, which was my introduction to economics. I always went in the freak show first to see the Penguin Boy, the Alligator Lady, the Siamese Twins, and other fine attractions. When the money ran out, we walked around and looked at livestock.


Have any of Lake Wobegon’s residents ever traveled to the Indiana State Fair? 

I’m sure they have, and probably they felt obligated to think that it was inferior to Minnesota’s, even though it’s not.


How much time do you spend a day writing their adventures?

I’m usually at work by 7 a.m., and I stick with it until I have an appointment or a nap to take. Five hours is a good writing day. On a Friday before a show, I usually work for seven or eight hours. That’s under pressure of deadline, with the fear of public humiliation drumming in my ears.


You’ve staged A Prairie Home Companion all over the world. What has been your favorite place to host?

Believe it or not, Goshen College in Indiana. They had a student choir on stage and an audience made mostly of Mennonites, so they sang like angels. You just hummed a note and gave them the downbeat, and they sang in perfect four-part harmony. We did hymn after hymn on that show, and it was very moving.


Which special guest (dead or alive) have you always wished you could have had on the show?

We don’t do dead guests. Of the available live ones, I’d love to get Taylor Swift on our stage, which would endear me to my daughter. We’d sit Taylor down with a guitar and have her sing some old country songs.


What will Lake Wobegon’s residents will be up to at the Indiana State Fair?

The Mist County Fair will be in session with the Blueberry Pie Eating Contest, the Future Farmers Pitchfork Drill Team, and the Wild Man From Borneo, who bites the heads off live chickens. He doesn’t really, but the chicken is trained to play dead and the Wild Man roars in convincing pagan style.