In conjunction with the free Rhubarb Festival happening 9 a.m. to 3p.m. at Sylvan Park on Saturday, June 3rd, 2016 , The Rhubarb Sisters are performing a kick off concert the evening before, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 2nd, at the St. Mane Theatre in Lanesboro, MN. The Rhubarb Sisters are Elizabeth Fugelstad, Julie Kiehne, Peggy Hanson and Beth Hennessey, all from the Lanesboro area. The Rhubarb Sisters performed on “A Prairie Home Companion” in 2007 when the show was broadcast from The Rhubarb Festival and have made countless concert appearances in Lanesboro and the region throughout their 11 years as a group.
“What I really love is making people smile. It really is about bringing joy and sharing the things that are true,” says Rhubarb Sister Julie Kiehne. “People want to seek more of the back-home roots to their childhood. Rhubarb brings that out.” Rhubarb Sister Beth Hennessy agrees, “We’re similar to rhubarb. We’re about finding happiness in your own backyard.”
The Rhubarb Sisters were born during the second year of the Rhubarb Festival, said Rhubarb Sister Peggy Hanson, and they just kept picking up steam. “One thing led to another and it just got out of control.” How out of control? If you’ve ever grown a patch of rhubarb, you know what an unruly piece of produce it is. One minute you’ve got a lovely little clump in the backyard and the next you’re peddling rhubarb jam and pie at the farmers market because everything in the root cellar has rhubarb in it and you can’t fool your family into eating one more bite. It’s the same for the Rhubarb Sisters.
“This goes so far beyond rhubarb,” Hanson states. “We perform for a lot for church groups, mother-daughter teas and that kind of event. Our basic message is that rhubarb is a humble thing. It’s just back by the garage.” But just because it’s humble, doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. “Especially in these economic times, we need to make the most of what we have,” Hanson said, so they make pies and cake and jam and use as much as they can harvest. “It blends with anything. It’s Midwestern values — make do with what you have. And you can hardly find it in stores,” she says. “It’s inherently noncommercial.”
So are the Rhubarb Sisters, who also travel far and wide in their house dresses and vintage aprons, singing about the wonders of rhubarb.“People respond to it. It’s very emotional. They think of home and grandma and homemade desserts,” Hanson says. And for some people, like the Rhubarb Sisters and their kin, it kind of takes over their lives. “My husband grows rhubarb,” Hanson says. “And he has a Google news alert for rhubarb. He’s on the pulse of rhubarb.”
So what does that pulse sound like? Warm up the pitch pipe and listen to the Rhubarb Sisters sing “What Shall We Do With the Extra Rhubarb” to the tune of “What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor.” “We have a good time,” Hanson says. “We make our fun.” So much fun that Hanson likes to dabble in a little rhubarb standup comedy. When asked if she is the top rhubarb standup comic in the country, Hanson doesn’t hesitate, “I might well be.”
- The St. Mane Theatre box office will open for business at 6:30 p.m. on the day of the event. Remaining tickets will be sold in-person beginning at that time.
- If you are unable to buy tickets online or need additional assistance, you may try calling 507-467-2446, on weekdays before 5pm, to purchase tickets over the phone.
- We will have a list of the names of ticket buyers at the box office beginning at 6:30 p.m. If the ticket buyer and their guests arrive together, no receipt or proof of purchase is needed in order to be admitted to the event–we will have a list!
- Alternatively, attendees can also present a printed copy of the Eventbrite ticket PDF the ticket buyer was sent or simply pull it up and present it on a smart phone.