At age nine, in the back seat of her grandmother's car on the way home from a funeral, Holly Harden began to write, and she's been writing ever since.
On Saturday, September 16 at 6:00PM at Forage, Holly will serve as the keynote speaker for the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild’s annual fundraiser. What’s the best way to give to the Guild? By treating you and your friends to an unforgettable evening with Holly—a cookbook author and writer for Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. Holly’s words will be accompanied by The Ukulele Klub’s music, as well as Chef Brent Halverson’s creative spin on the “church social” meal. (If you think you like Sweet Vidalia Cheese Dip, Our Lady of Lourdes Hamburger Pie, and Rum Truffles now, just wait until you savor Chef Brent’s variations; click here for the complete menu).
Throughout the evening, Holly will share stories from the writing life; in particular, how growing up in Fall Creek, Wisconsin eventually led her to writing for Garrison Keillor. She’ll share, too, insights on the creation of Mrs. Sundberg, the character popularized on A Prairie Home Companion, and the persona who narrates both of Holly’s cookbooks.
Who is Mrs. Sundberg? According to Holly, “She's rather fussy about details. And manages to maintain a positive outlook despite the challenges of a small town life.” Moreover, “she is not interested in being famous, only heard when she talks, and she tends to go on. She believes that the greatest gift is something homemade, and she has a large collection of aprons. And never paints her nails except once,” Holly adds. “And always falls asleep reading.”
“Pairing Holly’s words with Chef Brent’s cooking seemed like a perfect fit,” says Guild director B.J. Hollars. “Together, they can nourish us in a number of ways. And by attending and supporting the Guild, we’re able to nourish the entire community all year long by way of our many free programs.”
Cooking, like writing, is about sharing. “It’s a way of loving, to cook for someone,” Holly says. “It’s a way of loving to receive it, too. It’s a communion, a breaking of bread, of sharing life with each other while we’re here.”
A Fall Creek Native, Holly drew heavily from her hometown while writing for A Prairie Home Companion. “I grew up in Lake Wobegon. We all did. It is that imaginary place we spend our lives trying to return to. My Lake Wobegon had a creek running through it, a cafe, a nursing home, a park, a railroad bridge, a feed mill. People were hit by trains. There was Hollickers Creek, where I smoked a cigarette I found and dangled my feet in the water with my best friend Karen. I came of age in that town; I knew which steps creaked in the homes of my friends, and I stayed out late each summer night watching the sun go down into the trees to the west.”
On Saturday, September 16, let’s watch the sun go down together. Support a year’s worth of Guild events by buying your tickets today. Space is limited.
Sponsors: Wisconsin Public Radio, the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center, and Chippewa Valley Restaurant Week. For more on Chippewa Valley Restaurant Week, click here.