Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A rural Minnesota billboard packs a powerful message January 10, 2011

IF YOU TRAVEL OUTSTATE Minnesota, otherwise known as any place outside of the Twin Cities metro, check out the billboards.

They’re worth noting because of how they differ from advertising along freeways, where anyone from anywhere will see the signage.

In rural areas, the target audience seems much more localized.

For example, on a recent road trip to southwestern Minnesota, I spotted a billboard along U.S. Highway 14 near New Ulm advertising the Brown County Fair. Never mind that the fair happened last August.

Another sign promoted Chuck Spaeth Ford Mercury in Sleepy Eye and New Ulm. My automotive machinist husband tells me Ford no longer manufactures Mercury.

I also saw a billboard advertising Carhartts at the Runnings (“farm”) store in Springfield. This rugged clothing, footwear and more are almost a must-have for rural Minnesotans.


Pizza and Carhartts advertised on billboards along U.S. Highway 14.

Folks in outstate Minnesota like pizza, too. Just buy it at your local SUPERVALU, in this case Tauer’s SUPERVALU Foods in downtown Springfield.

But I spied my favorite billboard of this road trip in Sleepy Eye. Sponsored by the Brown County Underage Substance Abuse Coalition & The Parent Communication Network, this sends a strong message to parents: PARENT YOUR CHILD.


Brown County Underage Substance Abuse Coalition billboard in Sleepy Eye.

I wish such billboards weren’t needed, that underage substance abuse didn’t exist. But we know it does, always has and always will.

I appreciate how the billboard message encourages and empowers parents:

Parents…you are the #1 influence in your child’s life. Talk to your kids today! They really do listen to what you have to say!

I’d like to see replicas of this billboard elsewhere in Minnesota, even Rice County where I live. Rice County is among Minnesota’s most dangerous counties for drunk driving.

Just change the sponsor name on the billboard, and you’re good to go.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


4 Responses to “A rural Minnesota billboard packs a powerful message”

  1. Reuben Says:

    What do you think of the ubiquitousness of the pro-life billboards all along I-35W north of the cities?

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      You are going to laugh at this, but I don’t travel north of the Cities all that often, unless I’m visiting in-laws. (Don’t really care for all the traffic.) So I have not seen the pro-life billboards.

      I am pro-life, though.

  2. Bernie Says:

    You don’t go north of the cities, often? For shame. *teasing*
    I like that billboard. I also like fun billboards that mean nothing. We have one here in Montana that is all black with the word “Smile” in white letters. It does make me smile.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Oh, dear, my apologies to you native Duluthian, Bernie. For the record, I have been to Duluth three times in my life and my friend Jane wants me to visit her sometime in Duluth. Time for a road trip north.

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