Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Why I love church festivals like the one at Moland Lutheran June 25, 2013

Diners flocked to Moland Lutheran Church on Sunday for the congregation's annual strawberry festival in the church basement.

Diners flocked to Moland Lutheran Church on Sunday for the congregation’s annual strawberry festival in the church basement.

OH, THE PEOPLE you meet in church basements…

Moland Lutheran Church southwest of Kenyon.

Moland Lutheran Church southwest of Kenyon.

Like 90-year-old Georgia Vincent, nee Aase, who was born a mile south of Moland Lutheran Church, was baptized in this rural Kenyon parish and today drives 25 miles from Steele Center every Sunday morning for worship services.

She’ll tell you that her great grandparents came from Norway and that her father wanted a boy, whom he would name George. He didn’t get his boy.

Georgia eventually moved away to the Twin Cities and married. Her husband died on her 48th birthday, so, after 35 years she returned to the area, settling in Steele Center to raise her young daughter.

Georgia Vincent wipes down trays.

Georgia Vincent wipes down trays.

On this Sunday afternoon, Georgia was stationed in a corner of the church basement, washing trays during Moland’s annual strawberry festival. She did so with a smile, happy to contribute to an event where she once served food to diners. At age 90, she leaves that task to the younger folks.

Georgia, at work.

Georgia, at work.

Next year Georgia claims she will retire from helping at the festival.

I don’t believe her.

AND NOW, ON TO MORE PHOTOS from that strawberry festival:

Volunteers guide motorists into parking spaces outside the country church.

Volunteers guide motorists into parking spaces outside the country church.

First stop: the bake sale inside the church entry. My husband purchased caramel rolls.

First stop: the bake sale inside the church entry. My husband purchased caramel rolls.

Shopping at the bake sale.

Shopping at the bake sale.

Routing past retired farmer and head counter George Derscheid, stationed near Georgia.

Routing past retired farmer and head counter George Derscheid, stationed near Georgia in the church basement.

George's tally sheet. George pointed out a spot of skin cancer on his hand, said, he's dealt with bone cancer and now skin cancer. He's the most optimistic and cheerful person.

George’s tally sheet. He wondered why I wanted to photograph his hands. Because, I said, I like hands and the stories they tell. And then George pointed out a spot of skin cancer on his hand, said he’s dealt with bone cancer and now skin cancer. He’s the most optimistic and friendly person, just like Georgia.

Volunteers dish up hot pork sandwiches from Nerstrand Meats, homemade potato salad, ice cream, angel food cake, strawberries and chocolate cake, whatever you choose.

Volunteers dish up pulled pork sandwiches from Nerstrand Meats, homemade potato salad, ice cream, angel food cake, strawberries and chocolate cake, whatever you choose.

Lots of coffee to go around.

Lots of coffee to go around.

Diners file through the food serving line.

Diners file through the food serving line.

The backs of the folding chairs are labeled with the church name.

The backs of the folding chairs are labeled with the church name and the same strawberry decorations are pulled out every year.

First I ate my pork sandwich and potato salad.

First I ate my pork sandwich, potato salad and pickles.

Then I returned for a generous bowl of ice cream heaped with fresh strawberries. I couldn't eat all of it, so my husband finished off the delicious dessert.

Then I returned for a generous bowl of ice cream heaped with fresh strawberries. I couldn’t eat all of it, so my husband finished off the delicious dessert.

Diners exit the church.

Diners exit Moland Lutheran Church.

I love church festivals. For the food, the fellowship, the friendly folks, the history, the often beautiful setting…

PLEASE CHECK back for additional photos from Moland Lutheran.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling