Ben Knebel returns to tell Mail Boat stories
Throughout the summer of 2008, re-enactors will present music and stories about the area now served by the Paul Bunyan National Scenic Byway. The interpretive performances feature a recreation of legendary Ideal Township mail carrier, Ben Knebel who delivered mail to the Whitefish Chain from 1930 through 1969. The intertwining of Ben's life with local history and events in the summer of 1947 will be brought to life by the By-the-Way Players, a theater troupe directed by regional theater talent, Gary Hirsch.
People often met Ben, portrayed by Pequot Lakes teacher and actor Daren Blanck, at their dock and enjoyed a bit of conversation; a real-life happening that inspired the fictional scenarios in the performances. The stories derive from Ben's full life in the community. He was a busy man. Not only did he run the mail route but he also operated Camp Bertha, a small family resort; served as Clerk of Ideal Township; did a little blacksmithing; worked in sawmills and kept a prized herd of Guernsey dairy cows. Plus he played baseball with the Pequot Lakes team and was known to sing and do a little dancing in the evenings.
The performances alternate between two scripts. In No Fish, Ben has promised to provide a stinger of crappies for a family fish fry but rough water and talkative patrons have him running late and without the promised fish. In Donna Mae Ben, who never married, deals with two local ladies jealous of his devotion to the mysterious Donna Mae. Scenes from No Fish will first be presented about 5:00 pm May 9 at the Governor's Fishing Opener Community Dinner in Pequot Lakes. Donna Mae will premiere at 2:00 May 18 when the Crosslake Historic Village will dedicate a new exhibit of Ben's lovingly restored mailboat. Other presentations for the summer are:
June 14. 7:00 pm "No Fish" at the Crosslake Campground.
June 20. (About 2:00 pm) "Donna Mae" After First 08 Pine River Duck Races .
June 21. 7:00 pm "No Fish" at the Crosslake Campground.
July 4. 11:00 am in the Pequot Lakes Stars and Stripes Parade .
July 9. 10:40 am "Donna Mae" at Bean Hole Days in Pequot Lakes.
July 11. (About 2:00 pm) "No Fish" After the Pine River Duck Races.
July 18. 4:30 pm "No Fish" Cass County Fair in Pine River.
July 19. 7:00 pm "Donna Mae" at the Crosslake Campground.
July 25. (About 2:00 pm) "Donna Mae" After the Pine River Duck Races.
July 26. 7:00 pm "No Fish" at the Crosslake Campground.
August 9. 7:00 pm "Donna Mae" at the Crosslake Campground.
August 15. (About 2:00 pm) "No Fish" After the Last 2008 Pine River Duck Races.
August 16. 7:00 pm "Donna Mae" at the Crosslake Campground.
August 23. 7:00 pm "No Fish" at the Crosslake Campground.
Al performances are outdoors and weather dependent. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and enjoy the stories and music. Be sure to bring hose summer guests too.
118 Wildwood Bay Drive
Mahtomedi, MN 55115