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Fairmont Opera House celebrates 120 years

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 8:07 PM CST
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FAIRMONT, Minn. (KEYC) - In the last 120 years, buildings have risen and fallen in downtown Fairmont, but one thing has stayed the same: the Fairmont Opera House has been here since its first show on Feb. 11, 1902, when ‘The Chaperones’ hit the stage.

Throughout the century, the Fairmont Opera House has meant something different to everyone that stepped through their doors.

There was a time in 1980 where the State Theater Company terminated its lease. The doors were shut, the roof leaked and plaster was falling from the ceiling, yet the curtain still rises, and it became what it is today.

“The fact that we are still here means something, I mean, it has seen a lot. It has seen a lot throughout history. You don’t ever want that to escape you, it’s important, and it is something that we are very proud of,” explained Blake Potthoff, executive director at the Fairmont Opera House.

Now looking toward the future, the Fairmont Opera House is trying to keep the tradition alive, but also bring the opera house into the modern world.

With help from Potthoff, the Fairmont Opera House is getting a brand-new bar and liquor license, which, in turn, made it easier to host new festivities and bringing in bigger musical acts like Jerrod Niemann.

“From Madison to Wyoming, or wherever they are going, if they can grab them on a Tuesday night and have some big name performer here, that’s what we want to start doing,” Potthoff said.

The Fairmont Opera House has had two other names in its history, Haynic and Nicholas Theatre, along with renovations including installing a new ticket booth and its later removal.

No matter how many changes and names are given the Fairmont Opera House, it still remains the heart of the community.

“This isn’t just a place for one specific thing, it wouldn’t exist or live so long if it was. It is not just for dance or theater or opera. It’s for music and for experiences, and the more we can offer those experiences to people in our community and a variety of experiences, the more people we can influence and then the longer we can be established and continue to influence our community,” explained Potthoff.

Over the years people have sat in this same spot to watch their family members, friends, loved ones or complete strangers do what they love up on stage. Potthoff and staff at the Fairmont Opera House hope that stays the same for 120 years to come.

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