Keven Riggle, Librarian, Historian and so much more.
Q: When did you first get involved with the Kids from Wisconsin and why? Did you think you would still be involved after all these years?
A: I first became involved with KIDS in 1990 when I sent a group of pictures to the KIDS office for distribution to the KIDS. I was placed on the Troubadour mailing list. At the time I had access to a laser printer so when my first issue of the Troubadour arrived I sent back some samples of what the laser printer could do. Producer, Colonel Mark Azzolina and then General Manager, Barbara Dorn were working with Lands' End to print the quarterly newsletter so I was drafted to help prepare laser printed originals for the newsletter. Little did I know at the time that was only one of many volunteer duties I would be performing over the next 26+ years.
Q: If you could choose a favorite year of KIDS, what year would you choose?
A: Wow that's a really tough question! When you see between 20-25 performances each year every show just "grows" on you. There are certain memories that remain vivid:
receiving an "Honorary KID" award along with Scott Siedl at the 1994 Premier
having Uncle Nick ask me why I mopped the floor - I had literally just walked in the door. The high humidity was condensing on the cold concrete floor so he thought I had mopped the floor.
staying up to 3 AM to assemble 5 dance mirrors (these mirrors were retired in 2016)
the 1996 closer - Whitney Houston's "One Moment in Time", at the Premier there wasn't a dry eye in the house
operating a spot light at several shows and providing back stage security at others
watching temporary staging dangerously shift back and forth during dance numbers
smuggling Diet Coke (in a Pepsi bottle) to a staff member at a Pepsi sponsored show
replacing a band part because "my cat peed on it" (guess it wasn't the cat's favorite medley)
driving the equipment truck from Manitowoc to Lancaster (10 PM-2 AM)
piles of laundry and dry cleaning
picking up two repaired dresses and getting them to the Racine County Fair show on time
audiences in 2002 standing for Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A."
standing next to a woman in Lancaster who knew every word of the "My Fair Lady" medley
the 1998 troupe receiving a 5-minute standing ovation at the KIDS Alumni Reunion Celebration
being called on stage and honored at the Oconomowoc show in 2015 for 25 years of volunteering with KIDS
2014 Camp Registration
Q:When did you start baking the infamous "Keven Riggle" cookies for the troupe members during camp? What is the favorite cookie, and could you share the recipe?
A:I don't remember the exact year. I think it was 1996. Combined rehearsals had moved to the Family Living Center at State Fair. Camp rehearsals were at the center for two years and then the building was razed to make way for the "Big Back Yard". Those first few years the KIDS received about 200 cookies. That has grown especially with the addition of a small freezer in my kitchen which allows me to bake and store prior to Camp. In 2016 over 2,000 cookies were distributed. By far, the KIDS' overall favorite variety is chocolate chip. My favorite are the molasses crinkles. There is something about the combination of molasses, ginger, and cloves that appeals to me.
Q: You give up your annual vacation to help the organization prepare for its annual training camp. When did you start doing this?
A: Mark Azzolina first invited me to Camp in 1993.
I normally take the week before Camp starts and the first full week of Camp as my vacation. Then I return to my full-time job at Marquette but come back to Camp each night after work and on weekends. My work however begins much earlier when the music starts to arrive. The music needs to be distributed as soon as possible to give the KIDS as much time as possible to prepare and memorize the music. Before I assumed the Music Librarian duties music was distributed only at Camp. Since then everything received was printed, bound or taped together, and mailed prior to Camp. Today PDFs are distributed electronically with the print copies being available at Camp.
Q: Can you estimate how many hours that you have given to the organization on a yearly basis?
A: I don't track my volunteer time. When you do something you love the amount of time doesn't matter you just do it I do know the time spent ranges from a 30 seconds for a simple webpage update to several hours of printing and assembling music to 17 days of Camp where I'm available for whatever needs to be done to an entire tour season of helping where needed.
Q: What is your most favorite volunteer task and why is it your favorite?
A: This is an easy question. My favorite task is taking
pictures throughout the tour and distributing them back to the KIDS at the end of the season. Someday I know each KID will "discover' that photo album their mom put together or a disc full of pictures stuck in a drawer and they will be instantly transported back in time to when they were part of KIDS. They will re-live the numbers performed and the costumes worn, and they will remember the friendships and memories they established for a life time.
Q: Where do you see the KIDS organization in 10 years?
A: When the KIDS program began it was thought youthful interest would wain and the program would be finished after about five years. Now the organization is closing in on its 50th season.
Governor Warren Knowles, Colonel Azzolina, and "Uncle" Nick Azzolina would be so proud. The amount of talent in today's youth is not waning it's growing. The staff is so dedicated to the KIDS program that it is an honor to work with each and every one of them.
Ten years from now hopefully I will be thinking about stepping back from my volunteer duties. I will still enjoy attending shows and watching Wisconsin's amazing youthful talent have their
"One Moment in Time".
2016 performers and Keven at the closing performance in Monona