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Maguire featured performer at Prairie Extravaganza July 12

Songwriter and performer Charlie Maguire, the 2008 Arts and Communications honoree by the Minnesota Parks and Trails Council will be the featured performer at the Prairie Extravaganza event on Saturday, July 12 for two 45-minute programs.

The programs begin at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wetlands office in Morris. He is expected to play two songs that were inspired by visits to the Morris area.

The Friends of the Morris Wetland Management District have events beginning at noon and continuing to 4 p.m.

Besides Maguire's performances, free horse-drawn wagons will take passengers through a prairie landscape. Participants also can build a bird house to take home. There will be wetlands office staff and members of the FMWMD to help build the free birdhouses. There will also be many beautiful prairie wildflowers and plants for sale from the Morning Sky Greenery stock.

Maguire took the concept of the "environmental song" one-step further using music as the voice of natural resource institutions like Minnesota State Parks and the National Park Service.

He is known as "The Singing Ranger" for the National Park Service, as well as "The Centennial Troubadour" for Minnesota State Parks.

Winner of numerous grants and awards, including a New York Film Festival Gold Award, and a Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship, Charlie has literally sung the praises of Minnesota parks, trails and the Mississippi river to millions of people around the world. His song "Mary Gibbs" written in 1990 led to the establishment of the Mary Gibbs Headwaters Visitor Center at Itasca State Park 14 years later.

The Morris area has been immortalized in song with Charlie's "Wadsworth Trail" and "Sam Smith". Smith is buried in the Morris cemetery, fought for the Union at Gettysburg with the honored First Minnesota and posed for the statue that stands on the battlefield.

Both of these songs were written with research from the Morris historical and educational community, as well as ordinary citizens of the area.

When Minnesota became a state, the Morris area was still largely Indian Territory, but the Wadsworth Trail that ran from St. Cloud to Fort Wadsworth (now Fort Sisseton) had made it, by way of Gager's Station, an important crossroads for soldiers, traders, and homesteaders, as well as Chippewa and Sioux tribes.

His songs have been heard on "Good Morning America," the "CBS Evening News," "A Prairie Home Companion," "Car Talk," and other nationally broadcast programs.

Maguire recently released his fifth album, "Good Eye Blind," featuring the "Sam Smith" song. He plans to record "The Wadsworth Trail" for a future project.