Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Scaring up fun and fright at the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf November 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 11:26 AM

Jack-o-lanterns cozy together at the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf annual Scarecrow Fest.

EVERY OCTOBER, for as many years as I can remember, my family has driven across the viaduct to the east side of Faribault to view the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf Scarecrow Fest. Fall simply would not be fall without this event.

So Saturday my husband and I, minus the kids because two are grown and the other is a teenager, trek across town to the MSAD campus.

When I step from the van, I notice something I have not previously seen. How could I have missed the handprints? But they are here, a long row of handprints embedded curbside in the cement. These have nothing to do with the fest, but I pause before aiming toward the scarecrows.


Handprints in the sidewalk at MSAD.

Frizzy hair

Ever have a bad hair day like this student in "MSAD Ghost Scare?"

As Randy jots down information about the scarecrow displays, I search for the unique, the interesting, the artsy, the frightening—anything that may make for an interesting photo.

Some scarecrows make me smile, even laugh out loud, while others produce an “I’m not photographing that, it’s too scary” reaction. Halfway through our walk, our fingers are freezing and we are wishing we had dressed for the cold, brisk wind that sweeps across this campus. You would think we would learn. Every year we complain that we are cold.

As we walk, we observe how the winds have ravaged some of the displays. We guess that vandals have destroyed a few too.

And then, as we round the bend by the softball diamond, the cold-nipped fingers, the biting wind are forgotten. I discover candy inside a plastic pumpkin. Deb Kasper and her fourth hour Faribault High School American Sign Language students have left Snickers bars, Tootsie Pop suckers and other treats.

I grab a Snickers, not thinking to also take one for my husband. Back in the van, I rip off the wrapper and stuff the bite-sized piece into my mouth. But instead of biting into smooth chocolate and creamy caramel, I chomp into a chunk of weather-hardened candy.

My surprised reaction elicits laughter from Randy, whom I can almost hear thinking, “that’s what you get for forgetting me.”

So, before he can toss a barb, I am back at the plastic pumpkin snatching a Snickers bar for him, and another for myself. Snickers, even if half-frozen, still taste pretty darned good.

So Deb Kasper and students, your chocolate bribery worked. I award you the Woman’s Choice Award in the 16th annual MSAD Scarecrow Fest.


Friendly Casper greets visitors at the award-winning display where I discovered chocolate.


This "Halloween witch" won a blue ribbon for the ECE class.

Witch feet

Remember when the house landed on the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz? Look at these legs.


These darling ghosts won my heart at the "Ring around the ghosty" display. Arent' they cute?

Spike the dog

Now here's a dog I could love in the "Old lady escaping a dog" display.

Check back for more Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf Scarecrow photos in a future Minnesota Prairie Roots blog post.

© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling