Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Celebrating rural America at a kids’ pedal tractor pull in Morristown June 3, 2013

Heavy clouds rolled in from the west as I stood on the west edge of the ball field in Morristown late Saturday afternoon.

Heavy clouds rolled in from the west as I stood on the west edge of the ball field in Morristown late Saturday afternoon.

ONLY BLOCKS FROM THE HEART of Morristown, next to Babe Nordmeier Field on the west edge of town, corn sprouts in tidy rows upon the fertile earth.

This southeastern Minneosta community runs rural through and through with businesses centered on agriculture. Farmers live and work on land passed down through generations.

I climbed onto the back of the riser/stage to shoot this photo. In the foreground, behind the Dam Days royalty, are the trophies and ribbons and perhaps other prizes in the bags.

I climbed onto the back of the riser/stage to shoot this photo. In the foreground, behind the Dam Days royalty, are the trophies and ribbons and perhaps other prizes in the bags.

On Saturday afternoon, locals and those who grew up here, and others, like me, gathered under a tent on Main Street to watch the Kids’ Pedal Tractor Pull during the annual Dam Days celebration. It’s a grassroots event that melds a deep appreciation of the town’s rural roots with the connections of family and friendly competition.

Even the Dam Days princesses participated in the pedal pull. Look at the faces in the crowd.

Even the Dam Days princesses participated in the pedal pull. Look at the faces in the crowd.

As I observed the pedal pull, I focused not only on the determined little ones peddling with all their might, but on the proud parents, the equally encouraging grandparents, the enthusiastic siblings, the sweet princesses and more.

Cameras and encouragement abounded.

Cameras and encouragement abounded.

Before me I viewed a competition, yes. But I also noted smiles and felt that sense of community which prevails in the heart of rural America. At this moment in time, in this small town, all is well in the world.

The vehicle of competition, momentarily parked.

The vehicles of competition, momentarily parked.

This little guy cheers on a competitor.

This little guy cheers on a competitor.

...while this preschooler was getting tired. She wasn't sleeping, but...

…while this preschooler was getting tired. She wasn’t sleeping, but…

Cheering on a contestant.

Cheering on a contestant.

Dam Days royalty turned around and flashed their royal smiles when they realized I was behind them.

Sweet Dam Days royalty turned around and flashed their royal smiles when they realized I was behind them.

One word: Determined.

Happy and determined.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling