Doc ‘Moonlight’ Graham Days begin today in Chisholm

The first ever Doc “Moonlight” Graham Days event starts today in Chisholm. This is a new take on the classic Iron Range summer festival concept, with arts displays, performances, a street dance, car show and Saturday parade. Find the full schedule at the Chisholm Chamber’s events page.

Longtime Chisholm doctor Archibald Graham, known locally as Doc, was brought to fame after his 1965 death when author W.P. Kinsella explored Graham’s short career in major league baseball in his 1982 novel “Shoeless Joe,” which was made into the Kevin Costner movie “Field of Dreams in 1989.

In Kinsella’s original novel, the character James Earl Jones plays in the movie was a fictionalized version of the author J.D. Salinger, actually named J.D. Salinger in the book. Kinsella visited Chisholm the way the farmer Ray does in the book, visiting with longtime Chisholm newspaperwoman Veda Ponikvar, who provided the inspiration for the editor character in the book and movie. Ponikvar revisited the Graham story recently for the Hibbing Daily Tribune and Chisholm Tribune Press (subscription link).

In essence, the story is about an unlikely farmer who feels a spiritual call to build a baseball field in the corn, restore the tarnished reputation of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, rescue an author from his isolation, reopen the hopes of a long dead community doctor, and repair his relationship with his own dead father, all of whom just wanted their boyhood dreams back. It’s a marvelous book and Kinsella is a deeply underrated writer. I still recall reading “The Iowa Baseball Confederacy” and many of Kinsella’s short stories, most of which are about baseball or the indigenous peoples of North America.

Anyway, Doc “Moonlight” Graham Days are Aug. 10-13 in Chisholm and I can’t think of a better name for a summer festival.

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