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Ole, Lena offer lessons in life

By Sandy Hadler, contributor

WANAMINGO — Lena and Ole Gustavson, of world renowned fame entertained an audience of 130 women who attended the annual Goodhue County Extension Spring Festival May 5 at New Life Church in Wanamingo.

The audience appeared captivated by a heated argument between Lena and Ole (played by Julie and Mike Batesman of Cannon Falls) as she happily planned to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary at a church potluck in their honor and he wanted to go ice fishing.

The two-person play included telephone conversations with friends Sven and Margaret and involved a number of the women in the audience, whom Ole picked to give him advice on what to say to Lena when he finally decided to renew his vows.

The women struggled in front of their peers to give Ole advice that he didn’t want to hear. Lena got in some quips of her own. She told the audience, “Ole suffers from the disease that all men suffer from – selective hearing.”      

The Goodhue County Extension Home Study group is one of the few remaining active Extension groups in the state. It provides a one-day educational tour in the spring, a three-day educational trip each fall and provides training on many topics that volunteer leaders take back to educate their individual home study groups.

Julie and Mike Bateson of Cannon Falls have been portraying Ole and Lena for about 10 years. They  have created four two-act plays featuring the famous couple.

“The Ole and Lena characters came quite naturally for us. We find that we can turn them on and off easily,” he said.

The Batesons first performed at the Stone Mill Coffee House and Eatery in Cannon Falls. Since then, they have performed at the Lakeville Area Arts Center, the Jon Hassler Theatre in Plainview, at the St. Croix Festival Theatre, the Racine, Wisconsin, Civic Center and the Wabasha County Fair. They also perform at a wide variety of other events. They plan to present a performance in Zumbrota later this year.

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