Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Appreciating historic downtown Faribault, especially in her holiday finery December 21, 2011

Strolling along Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault late on a Saturday afternoon in December.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON, while my husband shopped for dress shoes at Burkhartzmeyer Shoes in historic downtown Faribault, I meandered a block north to view Central Avenue dressed in holiday finery.

She’s stunning with sparkles and ribbons and Christmas reds and greens befitting any holiday party.

Keepers Antique Store decorated the wrought iron fencing on a downtown street corner as part of a "Winter Wonderland" themed decorating contest.

Honestly, I love the look and feel of my downtown. Even without the glitz and glamour of the holiday season, Faribault shines. The old brick buildings, the comforting small-town vibe, the ease of parking, the slow pace and the friendliness of shopkeepers appeal to me.

Next to the Signature Bar & Grill, a lovely holiday-bedecked street corner.

An elf outside The Crafty Maven, "featuring a unique mix of new and vintage items."

Quotes from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" portrayed in store-front windows.

I am always surprised when locals fail to appreciate downtown. How can you not value this treasure of a business district with arched windows, decorative trim and more on vintage buildings that impart an historic and homey feel to our town? Perhaps because I didn’t grow up here, I can truly see the beauty that native residents often overlook.

Another seasonally-decorated street corner charms visitors to Central Avenue.

I am always surprised, too, that Faribault hasn’t been discovered—like Red Wing or Stillwater or Wabasha or neighboring Northfield—as a destination city. The potential exists to draw tourists here into our specialty shops and arts scene. It’s not for a lack of effort, but…we’re not there yet.

I aimed my camera skyward as the setting sun caught the tops of historic buildings along Central Avenue.

First, we need to sell our own residents on the value of Central Avenue, our Main Street. Do we truly realize how fortunate we are to have a solid, core downtown like ours with a deep history and an inviting character?

Mega malls and strip malls and Big Box retailers—and I shop at those places, too—have nothing on Main Street.

Yes, I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, meaning my perspective evolves from memories of shopping in a downtown, not a mall.

When I stroll along Central Avenue in Faribault, nostalgia accompanies me. And she’s a mighty fine friend to walk with, especially during the holiday season.

Outside Keepers Antique Store, a rustic vignette charms.

Across the street at That Scrapbooking Place, a punch of color on the front window backed by a holiday display and reflections of historic buildings.

Sweet, dreamy gingerbread houses fill the display window at Sweet Spot, a Central Avenue candy and ice cream shop. I love how the reflection of an old building across the street melds with the gingerbread house.

IF YOU’VE NEVER been to Faribault, consider a trip here. We’re located along Interstate 35, just an hour south of Minneapolis. You’ll find antique, craft, candy, cheese and many other specialty shops and businesses, hometown eateries, as well as an arts center, along Central Avenue. If you have a specific question about Faribault, ask and I’ll answer.

LOCALS,  if you haven’t been downtown in awhile, I’d encourage you to park your vehicle, walk and appreciate your town. She’s all glammed up right now and a wonder to behold.

READERS, PLEASE CHECK back on Thursday for more Central Avenue holiday-themed images.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


11 Responses to “Appreciating historic downtown Faribault, especially in her holiday finery”

  1. Laura Froman Says:

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! Your photos are perfect, and they capture what some of us already see in our historic downtown Faribault. Merry Christmas, Audrey!!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      You are welcome, Laura. And THANK YOU for your energetic and enthusiastic efforts to promote our historic downtown.

      Next time I’ll try to cover all of Central Avenue as I know I missed many beautiful holiday displays and buildings while photographing.

      Remember, more images forthcoming. Tomorrow.

  2. Peggy Keilen Says:

    In the last few years my husband and I have been picking one city in the US to visit each year. When we walk the downtown of these cities I realize the value and beauty our city has to offer. Anyone that likes history should do the same. You will be surprised how beautiful downtown Faribault really is. Just walk our sidewalks and see all the different “speciality” stores we offer. I think (if you haven’t done this for a while) you will truly be amazed.

    Good pictures Audrey. Merry Christmas and God Bless,

    Peggy Keilen

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you for your thoughts, Peggy, on the value of historic downtown Faribault.

      That’s a great idea, too, to visit one U.S. city each year.

      My husband and I have made it a point of checking out the small towns in southeastern Minnesota during Sunday afternoon drives. We are always surprised by the treasures we discover.

  3. Heidi Husbyn Says:

    Faribault has so many great “gems” to offer those that live and those visit Faribault. I often hear people say when they come in to our store “my relatives or friends are from Faribault and they say the place to visit is The Cheese Cave”. It is one of those “gems” of Faribault… which WE have many to offer… The Paradise Center for the Arts, The Sweet Spot… all those little niche kind of businesses that people should explore.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Well said, Heidi. I love The Cheese Cave cheeses, especially the Amablu Gorgonzola and St. Pete’s blue cheese aged right here in the caves of Faribault. Ditto for the other gems you mentioned. I’m a strong supporter of the Paradise Center for the Arts, which offers some great entertainment, wonderful gallery exhibits,…

      Outside of the downtown, we have the well-known Faribault Woolen Mill. And I wonder how many readers realize the Tilt-a-Whirl amusement ride has its roots right here in Faribault. I’d love to see a tourist attraction focused on this American icon.

      So, yes, lots of reasons to explore and appreciate historic Faribault.

  4. Dee Says:

    Thank you for showing such a beautiful Holiday landscape downtown Faribault. Each time I travel, I learn what a treasure we have in Faribault and are grateful for all my great neighbors downtown that provide products and services.
    dee bjork and Beth Westerhouse
    The Crafty Mavens

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Your creative talents at The Crafty Maven certainly add to the beautiful downtown Faribault landscape. Thanks for stopping by Minnesota Prairie Roots.

  5. […] about getting the district into tip-top physical condition.  Signs of  holiday work in this area: holiday decorations on light posts, garlands strung across streets, window decorating contests, street-tree lighting, etc.  Other, […]

  6. Paul Carney Says:

    Audrey –

    Season’s Greetings! I SO MUCH enjoy reading your blog. I love the writing, the nostalgic photos, and the whimsical observations! Thank you!

    I also enjoyed reading your contribution to The Lake Region Review!
    I hope you had a safe, serene Christmas celebration.

    Peace and good health to you and your family in 2012.

    Your Roadside Poetry Pal,

    Paul Carney

    PS. Your spring poem was a highlight of 2011 for me. Hey, I FINALLY posted the hometowns of the Roadside Poetry poets on the archives page. 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Paul, thank you for your most gracious words about Minnesota Prairie Roots.

      Just today I checked out the Roadside Poetry website to see if a winter poem was posted. Of course, I checked the archives and noticed the hometowns listed. Thank you for posting those and for your dedication to publishing poems on billboards in Fergus Falls.

      I’m glad you got to read my Lake Region Review poem, “This Barn Remembers.” It was an especially enjoyable poem to write as I recalled all those years of laboring in the barn. I felt like I really nailed it with this poem. Well, you know that feeling of getting every line, every word, precisely right.

      Minnesota offers so many opportunities for poets to get published and I fully intend to pursue more of those opportunities in 2012.

      Wishing you the best in 2012 also, Paul.

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