Established in 1979, Prairie Wind Players has a mission to produce, promote, and present cultural arts programs with a primary emphasis on dramatic arts and cultural enrichment.
On a cold winter's night in 1979, five individuals met at the home of Tim & Kathy Ray. We had indicated an interest in forming a community theatre in our area. At that meeting we decided we would form a theatre group. Most of us had no theatre experience since high school days, but we decided that it would be fun to again get involved.
One of the first things we had to decide on was a name for our group. The wind was blowing snow across the prairie that night and after several attempts Tim came up with "The Prairie Wind Players", a name which has stuck with us ever since.
For our first play we chose "Spoon River Anthology". I stated that I remembered several colorful characters who had at one time been residents of Barrett. The director suggested that I write parts for these characters and also act these parts as they were worked into the script. The play was an overwhelming success and got our theatre off to a good start in the community.
After performig a few years in a pavilion, we decided that we had to find another performance area. We finally decided on the old Roosevelt Hall. It had been abandoned by an insulation plant which had gone bankrupt and left ground up newspaper hanging from ceiling to floor. We were able to round up several volunteers to clean up the mess. We rented this place for a few years and then decided to purchase the place. We were able to come up with one thousand of the ten thousand purchase price. We secured a loan from the local bank and were on our way. Soon after that we decided to organize formally and to receive 501(c)3 status.
We had virtually no lights or sound equipment to start with and borrowed what we actually had to have, and as we made a little money we replenished our supply of equipment. We will never have enough it seems. We have been fortunate in having some generous donors and have been especially fortunate in getting grants from West Central Regional Art (now known as Lake Region Arts Council), and the McKnight Foundation.
I think it amazing that what started out as five people looking for some fun has grown into an organization with over 150 members and a budget of over $30,000, and we are still having fun. We do find, however, that at this time we have to be more conscious of the business end of the organization than at the time we started.
I firmly believe that any community has the talent available to form and to perform a good community theatre. Always try to remember that community theatre is both fun and educational. I can think of no way where a community might become better acquainted with one another than through community theatre.
Condensed from an article written by Dayle Ray in 1993