The mystery of Fred Penner's missing set pieces... SOLVED!
Two decades later, the beloved children's entertainer gets answers
When beloved children's entertainer Fred Penner approached Now or Never a few months ago to help him solve a mystery, we jumped at the chance.
For the last 21 years, Penner has been searching for pieces from the set of his television show Fred Penner's Place. Large painted trees, rocks, and the "guitar cave" all mysteriously disappeared when the show got pulled off the air in 1997.
Penner wanted to follow up on a rumour that the set ended up on a Christmas tree farm in Woodlands, Manitoba. So he and host Ify Chiwetelu set off on an epic adventure through the cornfields of rural Manitoba, in search of the farm.
Sadly they came up empty-handed. But after the story aired, several listeners called in with new tips on where the pieces might have ended up.
Listener Jessica Mailloux called in to say she knew exactly what happened to the set pieces — because she lived on that farm in Woodlands.
"We had been told by the owner of the farm that it actually was Fred Penner's set out there, but we weren't 100 per cent sure. But now we know."
Mailloux and her friends would often hang out on the set pieces, including logs, mossy rocks, and Penner's guitar cave.
"We loved showing it off, because we were such big fans. We all grew up with Fred Penner, and it was like having a piece of our childhood in our backyard."
Unfortunately, Mailloux can confirm there isn't a happy ending to this story. When the farm was sold in 2012, all the pieces got hauled off to the dump.
"I regret not doing something with them, or ensuring that they were kept. But we really didn't have confirmation, until we heard [your] story, that Fred didn't know where they were."
Still, Penner feels like he finally has some closure — and that he gained something else, too.
"All across the country, people were saying, 'Did you find those pieces?' They were so excited. I started thinking about the whole process. And that was actually more important than finding the pieces. Because it gave people — the 'Fred-heads' — a little bit of excitement."
Several people got in touch with Now or Never to share their favourite Fred Penner memory.
"Although I don't know where the missing set pieces have disappeared to, I would like to let Fred know that he is connecting with a new generation of kids," wrote Meagan Grant. Her two daughters left a voicemail singing "We're Gonna Shine," their favourite Fred Penner song.
"I'm touched," said Penner. "In my 72 years on this planet, I'm inclined to shed a tear more often than earlier in my life. This is very touching."