COLD SPRING, Minn. – Chad Kraemer had a saying, “The show must go on.” This Saturday, Cold Spring’s 10th Annual Firefest music festival will go on - without Kraemer.
“We’ll make sure his legacy continues,” said Cold Spring Fire Captain Mike Hesse. “It has to.”
Kraemer, 40, died in the early morning hours of July 2 at his home, after climbing out of bed, sliding open a second-story glass door, and falling onto a concrete patio.
Kraemer’s wife, Lynnae, discovered her husband. He was pronounced dead at the scene of a head injury.
Cold Spring Fire Chief Dan Weber responded to the call. Weber said he went in to “help the person mode” and shed his tears later.
Was Kraemer sleepwalking? Lynnae Kraemer says that’s possible, but she’d never known him to do that. “It doesn’t make any sense,” she said.
A deck was weeks from being built on the other side of the sliding door, adding to the family’s sense of regret.
Chad Kraemer left behind three children, 13, 18 and 20. He also left behind an excavating and trucking business he co-owned with his brother Jeff.
“You just pick up the pieces and move forward as best you can,” said Chad Kraemer’s father, Jim, who had passed on the business to his sons. “You’ve got your good days and you’ve got your bad days; it’s like everyone else that has a loss.”
Meanwhile, Cold Spring firefighters were left to deal with both their grief and a rapidly approaching music festival drawing thousands of people.
“He's the reason we have it,” said Hesse, of Kraemer’s leadership role in Firefest.
Firefighter Jon Douvier said Kraemer set the example firefighters followed in the wake of his death.
“Through all the years of Firefest, that was Chad’s thing,” Douvier said. “There would be a big problem, Chad would look at it and say, 'That’s not a problem, the show must go on.'”
“The Show Must Go On” is now printed on 2017 Firefest T-shirts, along with Kraemer’s signature.
“There wasn’t anything that got in his way,” Hesse said.