A Proud History
I love history. I have always heard that we must examine our history and learn from it, or we are doomed to repeat it. Many times, I have heard this in reference to a negative situation. However, I believe that learning from our history can be very positive; something to be proud of.
Thirty-five years ago, a civic minded group led by Dr. Robert and Mary Arneson helped establish a movement that kept this building from falling down. Through 26,000 volunteer hours and innumerable hours since, generous donations, and incredible community support, our beloved Fairmont Opera House has persisted to today, writing a history that is second to none.
Today we continue to be a place where patrons young and old can come to make memories. Whether it is the child who comes in for the first time to attend an outreach event or the adult making a return to see a show, we are a part of their history just as they are a part of ours. History happens every day, and ours continues to be written.
To be a part of this history is amazing. I am inspired every day by the people I meet in the community, those I speak to over the phone, and the emails that I receive telling me how much the Fairmont Opera House is loved. It is my duty; rather, our duty, as citizens of this community to continue to band together and ensure that future generations will have the opportunity to love and cherish this building as we have for over 115 years.
I am so humbled to be entrusted with the legacy of the Fairmont Opera House; to love this building, to cherish its history, and to help propel this organization into the future. It is my dream that some day when I am long gone, this building will stand stronger than it ever has on the bedrock of community support, volunteerism, and the belief that together, we can accomplish amazing things.
I am proud of our history. I hope that you are too.
Blake Potthoff – Executive Director
New Year, New Direction
As 2016 comes to an end, it is time to reflect on how great a year it has been.
Throughout this past year, the Fairmont Opera House was host to 11 Subscription Series events, in which over 3,200 people from all over the region attended. We hosted the largest Children’s Theatre Camp in Opera House history, with 75 students third through eighth grades participating in two unique and impressive shows. We held outreach events for local elementary schools, reaching well over 1,000 children, teachers, and staff. We played host for multiple groups as a meeting space, a recital hall, and even a comedy show. Amidst all those great things, we had time to celebrate our 35th Anniversary. 2016 truly has been a busy and fantastic year!
Moving forward, however, I want to accomplish even more. It is my goal as the Executive Director to reach more people than we did in 2016. In 2017, I would like to see over 5,000 people from our region attend our shows. I would like over 80 kids to participate in the magic of theatre during our Children’s Theatre Camp. I would like to have more children and families walk through our doors and be exposed to the arts. Most importantly, I want to have a deeper impact on those in our community by continuing to offer this beautiful facility as a place to hold meetings, conferences, speaking events, comedy shows, birthday parties, and so much more.
To accomplish these goals, I need your assistance. Help me write a new chapter in the long history of the Fairmont Opera House. Come volunteer your time as an usher, stage hand, bartender, or spot light operator. Assist at volunteer days where we paint, repair, and complete projects around the Opera House. Interact with us on social media. Take some time to swing in and chat with us; bring your memories from the past as well as your ideas for the future.
I am ready to make a difference in 2017. Are you?
Blake Potthoff- Executive Director
Fairmont Opera House, Inc. Hires New Executive Director
Fairmont Opera House, Inc. and the Board of Directors are excited to announce the hiring of a new
Executive Director, Blake Potthoff of Fairmont, MN. Potthoff is a 2010 graduate of Martin County
West High School in Sherburn, MN and a 2014 graduate of Luther College in Decorah, IA.
Potthoff has been active in theatre productions from a young age. He began his acting career in
Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre performances, sponsored by the Martin County West Community
Education and Recreation program. As he grew older, Potthoff began taking part in high school
productions at Martin County West High School. It was also during this time that he became an
active member in Civic Summer Theatre. Civic Summer Theatre provided Potthoff with the first
opportunity to perform on the Opera House stage during the production of “The Music Man”. He is
now a ten-year veteran performer in the Civic Summer Theatre organization.
During his college years, Potthoff worked with student led theatre organizations at Luther College
as a set designer and builder. In 2014, Potthoff graduated from Luther College with a Major
Degree in Vocal Music Performance and a Minor Degree in Religious Studies.
Following college, Potthoff moved back to Fairmont to live on his family farm outside of Fairmont. It
is there that he currently resides with his wife, Megan.
Recently, Potthoff has worked as the Stage Manager and the Technical Director for the Fairmont
Opera House. He has been responsible for working with the acts that perform at the Fairmont
Opera House to ensure that their sound, lighting, and stage requirements were fully addressed.
Blake and his wife, Megan, recently were the Directors for the 2016 Children’s Theatre
performances of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Reluctant Dragon”, respectively.
They worked to educate the students in stage performance, light and sound design, and costume
design. The Potthoffs successfully led a group of 75 kids throughout the week of the camp.
In his spare time, Potthoff serves as a Martin County West Junior High School Football Coach and
a Varsity Assistant Coach. He also is active in his church, First Congregational UCC of Sherburn,
where he serves as a councilman and Lay Pastor.
In this position, Potthoff will continue to promote the Fairmont Opera House mission and deepen
the impact of the organization in the community.
We have more amazing events coming up soon!
On January 13th at 7:30 pm, we will be rocking and rolling with Zeppelin Experience!
With an entire arsenal of Led Zeppelin songs in their satchel, Zeppelin Experience gives an energy sapping show playing some of the greatest rock epics of all time. They bring all the hits including “Dazed and Confused”, “Whole Lotta Love”, “Good Time Bad Times”, and many more. If you are a classic rock fan, this is a show that you do not want to miss!
Next, on January 21st at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm, we are proud to bring Warren Nelson and “A Martin County Hornpipe” to the Fairmont Opera House stage.
A Fairmont Native, Warren is the founder of Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua and has led a team of talented musicians, actors, researchers and technicians in the creation of numerous large-scale, historical musicals since the 1970’s. “A Martin County Hornpipe”, a concert music history show that debuted in 1976, includes singing and telling and showing by old photographs the story of Fairmont and the Martin County area. This will be a fantastic event, showcasing the community that we call home.
Finally, on Saturday, February 18th at 7:30 pm and Sunday, February 19th at 2:00 pm, we are please to bring Ole and Lena back to the stage with a hilarious comedy, “Ole and Lena Win a Cruise”.
Lena has decided that she and Ole will be going on a vacation this year, but Ole wants nothing to do with it. Will Ole talk Lena into going camping instead of bobbing around on a cruise ship “like a fishing boat in a walleye chop on opening day”? Or will Lena finally get the romantic vacation she has dreamed about? Join in the side splitting fun for the whole family and see this play about family, love and growing old together.
We’ll see you at the show!
Blake Potthoff- Executive Director