Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A morning at the Rice County Steam & Gas Engines Flea Market May 25, 2013

The Rice County Gas & Steam Engines Flea Market is located three miles south of Northfield along Minnesota Highway 3.

The Rice County Steam & Gas Engines Flea Market is located three miles south of Northfield along Minnesota Highway 3.

ON THIS BRISK SATURDAY in southeastern Minnesota—and I mean brisk as in ya better bundle up if you’re spending any time outdoors—my husband and I hit the Rice County Steam & Gas Engines annual Memorial Day weekend flea market.

Don Atkins of Carver invited me to the Scott-Carver Threshers 50th Harvest Festival on August 2 - 4 in Jordan.

Don Atkins of Carver invited me to the Scott-Carver Threshers 50th Harvest Festival on August 2 – 4 in Jordan.

I can’t decide what I enjoy more about this slice of rural Americana. The people watching. Or the shopping. Or photographing the flea market.

Even the old steam engine tractor was fired up for the day.

Even the old steam engine tractor was fired up for the day.

Photo ops abound at this event located on acreage along Minnesota Highway 3 near Dundas (between Faribault and Northfield).

Vendors galore at the flea market. Allow yourself several hours to poke around.

Vendors galore at the flea market. Allow yourself several hours to poke around.

Despite the whipping wind, the tents, and most of the merchandise, stayed put while all ages perused what some might categorize as junk, others as treasures.

You'll find lots of vintage signage.

You’ll find lots of vintage signage.

A 1940s vintage plane priced at $1,200.

A sweet 1940s vintage plane priced at $1,200.

Wood and lead type, some of which I wanted to buy, but didn't.

Wood and lead type, some of which I wanted to buy, but didn’t.

A Minnesota souvenir.

A Minnesota souvenir.

Shovels lined up for the live auction on Saturday.

Shovels lined up for the live auction on Saturday.

If you can’t find something here that you like, then you’re not digging or searching hard enough or you just don’t like flea markets. The eclectic mix of old stuff is, well, mind-boggling.

Riding the old merry-go-round near the front gates.

Riding the old merry-go-round near the front gates.

There’s still time to make this event. Gates open at 8 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. Sunday. A tractor pull is also slated for 9 a.m.

Eighteen-month-old Marina, bundled up and riding in a wagon pulled by her dad.

Eighteen-month-old Marina, bundled up and riding in a wagon pulled by her dad.

Dress warm.

MORE PHOTOS will be forthcoming in additional posts.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling