Senior Connections Senior Connections Aug. 2018 - Page 7

LP’s ‘queen of all trades’ has found many ways to serve MARK MITTEN Correspondent Audrey Litzau is a familiar face in Lester Prai- rie. Not only has she raised a family and started a local business, but Litzau has been very active as a volunteer in many community activities and events. She has served on committees for Music in the Park, Longhorn Days and Prairie Days, blood drives, the American Legion Auxiliary, and more. She also cul- tivates fl owers at her home that she donates for dis- play on the altar at her church, Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church, several times a year. “With all the groups I volunteer with, I have got a calendar on the wall, one on the desk, and one in my purse. So they all three better match,” Litzau said with a laugh. One example is Music in the Park, a popular con- cert series in Lester Prairie that recently concluded its fourth season. As part of the organizing commit- tee, Litzau was instrumental in organizing the event. In 2018, it ran every Tuesday from May 22 through June 26, and featured a weekly band performance at the 2nd Avenue Park. Crowd sizes average more than 100 people, and audience members traveled from 32 different towns. Litzau enjoys polka music and dancing. So much so, that she helped create a polka festival that ran for 10 years. It began as a three-night event in New Ger- many at Fred Radde’s auction center in 1997, but the venue became so crowded that Litzau and festival co- creator Jake Bandemer realized a bigger venue was needed. They moved the event to the McLeod County Fair- ground in Hutchinson, where it continued annually through 2006, drawing attendees from all over the US. Many volunteers were needed every year to install the heavy fl oorboards, set the stage and operate each festival. The Pla-Mor Ballroom in Glencoe was cho- sen as the fi nal location for the 2007 Polka Festival, closing a decade of fun and dance. “The fi rst year we put it on, we had no idea how many people we were going to have,” Litzau recalled. “Friday night, we had 450 people coming and go- ing. That was a lot. The next eight years it was at the Hutchinson fairgrounds, and we had ample room for 600-plus.” Following the festival’s closure, Litzau became the managing editor for the Music & Dance News, a bi- monthly magazine published by the Minnesota Ball- room Operators Association. The MBOA is “a non- profi t organization supporting ballrooms, bands, and old-time music promoters throughout Minnesota,” according to its website, ballroomassociation.com. Litzau is still the managing editor today. Such a strong spirit for local volunteer work has not gone unnoticed. In 2014, Litzau was nominated and awarded the position of grand marshal for the Prairie Days Parade. Volunteering in community events is not only a way to serve others, but Litzau believes it also provides enriching personal experiences and new Along with raising four children and co-founding a fam- ily business, Audrey Litzau has spent many years volun- teering in the Lester Prairie community. She believes that volunteering is a meaningful way to connect with people and make memories. SUBMITTED PHOTO friendships. She would love to see more local peo- ple get involved in the various opportunities that are available in Lester Prairie. “It would be a good experience to try [volunteer- ing on a committee]. You bring two new people in, and those two new people have different ideas. Ev- ery couple years, whatever group it is, they need new ideas,” Litzau explained. Originally from Madelia, Litzau moved to Lester Prairie with her (late) husband Donald in 1969. They started a family business, Litzau Excavating, in 1971. She was heavily involved in every aspect of the opera- tion, from loading gravel and driving trucks to offi ce management, and considered herself a “queen of all trades.” In 2003, her son Darian Litzau and daugh- ter-in-law Denise Litzau took over the company, and continue to run it today. In addition to her dedication to the Lester Prairie community, Audrey Litzau (far right) enjoys spending time with family and friends, as seen here on a trip to Duluth with Nina McDowell, granddaughter Brittany, and daughter Diane Litzau in 2017. SUBMITTED PHOTO Senior Connections HJ.COM Senior Connections August 2018 7