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Kraft's 'Five Weeks, Five Days' to be shown on PBS

In 2009, Lorelei Kraft of Park Rapids recorded a piece of history that she worried would disappear when her generation passed.  

It was the story of the "Founding Mothers," the 12 women who created and built the award-wining Village of the Smoky Hills at Osage.  She subsequently wrote and produced "Five Weeks and Five Days" in 2009.

The documentary has now been chosen as a PBS special program, to be aired on Lakeland PBS (Bemidji) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 23 and at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 26

Program Director Jeff Hanks said, "Here at Lakeland Public Television, we receive many program submissions from local independent producers... and Lorelei Kraft's 'Five Weeks and Five Days' is definitely one of the best I've seen to date."

In 1984, the area was experiencing almost 20 percent unemployment. Kraft and 11 other women determined to build a heritage handcrafts "village" in this rural area of northern Minnesota, a village which would employ people, create an outlet for area crafters and become a tourist attraction.

The time frame in which the Founding Mothers did this - less than two months - is what makes the story remarkable.  

They bought a 67-acre piece of wilderness with no infrastructure,  no road, no electricity.  They had an extremely limited time frame in which to build eight cottages and a restaurant.  

They also needed to hire 60 people, find 200 hand-crafters to fill the buildings and do publicity.  Yet from the day they broke ground to the day The Village opened was an astounding five weeks and five days.  , "What the Founding Mothers did would blow the hardhat off of any general contractor!" Corporate Report MN said at the time.

The Village of the Smoky Hills went on to receive the top tourism awards in Minnesota, and was written up in many national and regional magazines.  

Kraft was chosen the Minnesota Business Woman of the Year.