Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In North Morristown: A photo essay of Minnesota’s oldest July 4th celebration July 4, 2013

The bluegrass band, Monroe Crossing, has performed at North Morristown the past seven years, presenting two concerts at the celebration.

The bluegrass band, Monroe Crossing, has performed at North Morristown the past seven years, presenting two concerts at the celebration this year.

NORTH MORRISTOWN, MINNESOTA, is about as rural Americana as you’ll find anywhere in these United States of America on the Fourth of July.

The event is held at the North Morristown picnic grounds in southwestern Rice County.

The event is held at the North Morristown picnic grounds in southwestern Rice County.

Trinity Lutheran Church and School sit across the road from the picnic grounds.

Trinity Lutheran Church and School sit across the road from the picnic grounds.

Here, on the picnic grounds of Trinity Lutheran Church and School, generations of families have gathered for 121 years to celebrate our nation’s birthday with family and friends at our state’s oldest Independence Day celebration, begun in 1892.

The vintage car ride for kids.

The vintage car ride for kids.

The day brings old-fashioned games and rides for the kids, bingo, music, a scavenger hunt, a parade, a patriotic program and more. Fireworks shot over farm fields cap the day’s festivities.

Enjoying a pork sandwich and a beer.

Enjoying a pork sandwich and a beer.

And the food, oh, the food. Homemade pies. Savory hot pork and beef sandwiches, burgers, thick onion rings, and more.

A large crowd enjoys a free afternoon concert by Monroe Crossing.

A large crowd enjoys a free afternoon concert by Monroe Crossing.

What a day. What a celebration.

One pole shed is dedicated to bingo.

One section of a pole shed is dedicated to bingo and a silent auction.

The bingo callers.

The bingo callers.

Fun for the kids in the games and rides building.

Fun for the kids in the games and rides building.

A ticket for the fish pond.

A ticket for the fish pond.

Filling the squirt gun in the duck pond.

Filling the squirt gun in the duck pond.

Riding the old-fashioned barrel train.

Riding the old-fashioned barrel train.

The day's proceeds benefit Trinity Lutheran School.

The day’s proceeds benefit Trinity Lutheran School.

Homemade pies and ice cream are served from the pie building.

Homemade pies and ice cream are served from the pie building.

Blueberry pie.

Blueberry pie.

Hot pork and beef sandwiches and cold beverages are served from this stand.

Hot pork and beef sandwiches and cold beverages are served from this stand.

Visitors stopping by the ice cream shop can drop donations for the entertainment into a drop box.

Visitors stopping by the ice cream shoppe can drop donations for the entertainment into a drop box.

A peek inside the ice cream shoppe.

A peek inside the ice cream shoppe.

Enjoying an ice cream cone.

Enjoying an ice cream cone.

An overview of the novelties shoppe and games and rides building.

An overview of the novelties shoppe and games and rides and bingo building.

Guess the number of corn kernels in the duct taped jar and win a prize.

Guess the number of corn kernels in the duct taped jar and win a prize.

A 75-year-old Harley rider arrives at the celebration late in the afternoon.

A 75-year-old biker arrives at the celebration late in the afternoon on his 1977 Harley.

One of several lists thanking supporters.

One of several lists thanking supporters.

Garbage pick up in a 1964 grain truck.

Garbage pick up by a 1964 grain truck.

North Morristown is set in the middle of farm fields.

North Morristown is set in the middle of farm fields.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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Displaying the red, white & blue in small town America

Flag buntings decorate an historic home in the beautiful river town of Decorah, Iowa.

Flag buntings decorate an historic home in the beautiful river town of Decorah, Iowa.

SIGNS OF U.S. PRIDE/patriotism/love of country are evident everywhere this week in small town Midwestern America.

Here are a few examples from a recent short trip into southeastern Minnesota, western Wisconsin and northeastern Iowa.

Enjoy.

And Happy Fourth of July, dear readers.

Chalk art at St. Feriole Island Gardens in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, along the Mississippi River.

Chalk art at St. Feriole Island Gardens in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, along the Mississippi River.

Snapped through the windshield of the van, this aged elevator and flag to the right, entering the Mississippi River town of Marquette, Iowa, from the north.

Snapped through the windshield of the van, this aged elevator and flag, to the right, entering the Mississippi River town of Marquette, Iowa, from the north.

A few miles to the south in McGregor, Iowa, I found this "God bless America" sticker and humorous welcome on the door of a bar.

A few miles to the south in McGregor, Iowa, I found this “God bless America” sticker and humorous welcome on the door of a bar.

I spotted plenty of American flags in the Mississippi River town of Lansing, Iowa.

I spotted plenty of American flags in the historic Mississippi River town of Lansing, Iowa.

Signs and a flag in Lansing, Iowa.

Signs and a flag in Lansing, Iowa.

Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Happy birthday, America

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Photographed in downtown Henderson, Minnesota, in October 2012.

Photographed in downtown Henderson, Minnesota.

TODAY, WHILE YOU’RE picnicking, gathering with family, drinking beer or sipping lemonade, boating, ¬†taking in fireworks… pause to consider the significance of this day.

Freedom.

Liberty.

The pursuit of happiness.

Even though the state of our nation may not always be as we would like, it’s still a pretty sweet country to call home.

Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling