Ann and Mike Juhl have been named Ma and Pa Kettle for Ma and Pa Kettle Days in Kettle River this weekend.
The couple will appear in the parade, accompanied by their grandsons: Trent, 12, Blake, 9, and Tyler, 7.
“Blake’s first football game was the day of the parade,” said Ann. “He chose not to go, he wanted to ride in the parade.”
Ann and Mike have been married 37 years and have lived in the same home, located in rural Kettle River, close to the Aitkin County line, all of their married lives.
“We see all kinds of critters in the yard,” said Mike.
“Except for Sasquatch,” Ann laughingly added. “We’ve had bear and coyotes.”
Two children, a son and a daughter, were born to Ann and Mike. Their son, Jeramie and his wife, Jolene, the parents of the three grandsons, live close to his parents. Their daughter, Julie Kenowski, lives in the Twin Cities with her 6-month-old baby son, Grayson. Julie was a princess for Miss Kettle River in 1993.
Ann has been employed at Mercy Hospital for 12 years as a dietary aide. She has gotten to know and care about the residents of the Augustana Mercy Care Center.
“I get very close to them,” she said. “They make you smile. They appreciate you there.”
Mike is a foreman with Mlaskoch Utilities, and admits to being harassed about his new title as Pa Kettle by his coworkers.
“We do that all the time, tease each other,” he said. “That makes work fun.”
Both Ann and Mike have helped out with Ma and Pa Kettle Days over the years. They have run the games.
“We haven’t missed any of the celebrations since they began,” said Mike.
“We were the first ones that did it,” added Ann. “I think that they got desperate this year. They are running out of people to do it.”
Both Ann and Mike are members of the Star Club. Mike serves on the board, and Ann is a member of the Ladies Guild.
Mike’s passion is stock car racing. He raced at the Carlton County Fair every year until recently. He also competed in the Demolition Derby at the fair.
“I won the Demolition Derby three or four times,” he said. “I never won a race but I finished second one time.
“It was fun to build the cars, rip them apart, and then make junk out of them when they were done. “
Work occupies much of Mike’s time these days.
“Now all I have time for is a little bit of fishing and bow hunting,” he said.
Yet, the couple keeps up with racing by attending NASCAR races.
“We’ve been to Las Vegas to watch the races a couple of times, and we’ve been to Florida, Virginia, Atlanta and California to watch races,” said Ann.
The couple enjoys their grandsons.
“We have fun with them,” said Ann. “We like to play little tricks on them.
“One year, in the fall, we had a dummy sitting on the swing in the yard for weeks,” added Mike. “When Halloween came, I dressed the same as the dummy had been and sat in its spot. I scared the boys when they came for Tricks and Treats.
“Another time, I was dressed as a dummy and was sitting in the house when they came. They thought that it was a dummy sitting there and didn’t pay any attention. I scared them again!”
Both Ann and Mike are pleased to have been named Ma and Pa Kettle.
“My sisters always said that we’d be Ma and Pa Kettle someday,” Ann said. “It’s an honor.”
“It’s always fun to go and see everyone that you haven’t seen for a year,” added Mike. “It’s like a big family reunion. It’s an honor to be chosen as Ma and Pa Kettle. It will be a lot of fun.”
Ann and Mike will be honored at the Miss Kettle River pageant on Friday evening, Aug. 9, at 6 p.m., and in the parade on Saturday, Aug. 10, starting at 11 a.m.