Chris Keenan, the Paul Bunyan Playhouse Board member who nominated Dr. H.B. "Ding" and Ina Roholt as this season's Celebrity Star Patrons.
"I remember seeing the Roholts and their (five) kids when the plays were held at Ruttgers Resort," Keenan said. "They are very deserving of this honor as they have been continuous supporters of the playhouse for the past 60 years."
The Roholts have touched many arts organizations in the Bemidji area and are among the selected few who were called upon when Bemidji Area Arts Endowment was begun. They started the Roholt Family Fund, and, by coincidence, their fund is supporting the appearance of Kevin Kling at this year's Stars in the Street celebration from 5:30-9 p.m. today at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse.
When asked if he had a play that he especially enjoyed through the years, Ding Roholt said, "Not just one play, but overall they are all so excellent we keep coming back for more."
The Roholts and their children started to attend, back in 1950 when the playhouse began. Many people still talk about how romantic it was back then. Patrons walked to the summer playhouse from their homes along the shore of Lake Bemidji where lights shone on the water to lead the way. Music wafted across the water as the then musical director, Fulton Gallagher, encouraged his players to sing louder than the musicians played. Up-and-coming actors and playwrights like Kevin Kling were welcomed by a public who were anxious to see and hear what was new in theater.
The Roholts' support continued through the transition in 1992 of the Paul Bunyan Playhouse from Ruttgers to its present home in the Historic Chief Theatre. The size of the theater increased and Ding Roholt found that he was having a bit of a problem hearing the actors. So he and Ina made a contribution to purchase a state-of-the-art hearing system which is used not only by him but by many other theater patrons.
Ding and Ina gave their children the gift of curiosity and appreciation of the arts. The parental support the Roholts gave their children continues today. Their daughter, Natalie Roholt, a physician at MeritCare Clinic in Bemidji remains a supporter of the arts and plays flute with the Baroque Ensemble. She and her husband, Patrick Reilly, are often seen with her parents at arts events in Bemidji and most definitely at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse. Ding, ever the proud father, is often seen taking digital shots of his daughter Diane Roholt's artwork for stage pieces and scenery at the playhouse, most notably for Bemidji Community Theater productions.