Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Hey, check out this southeastern Minnesota small town July 27, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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SMALL TOWNS INTRIGUE ME. Each possesses a unique character.

A snapshot of Hayfield's downtown business district.

A snapshot of Hayfield’s downtown business district.

For that reason, and because I favor rural more than urban, my husband and I purposely detour off highways, park our vehicle along Main Streets and explore.

This biker ran out of gas and pushed his motorcycle up to the pumps at Caseys in Hayfield, just off Minnesota Highway 56.

This biker ran out of gas and pushed his motorcycle up to the pumps at Casey’s General Store in Hayfield, just off Minnesota Highway 56.

Often we are the only ones walking about, especially since our stops are typically on Sunday afternoons.

However, even on a recent Monday morning visit to Hayfield, population 1,300, southwest of Rochester in Dodge County, the downtown was quiet enough that I didn’t have to worry about standing in the middle of the street to take photos.

Welcome to Hayfield. So...I'm wondering whether the town is named after a person or a hay field.

Welcome to Hayfield. So…I’m wondering whether the town is named after a person or a hay field.

And Hayfield offers plenty of photo ops, beginning with the welcome sign just off Minnesota State Highway 56. The “Where People Make Progress” slogan puzzled me, until I read this explanation on the city’s website:

Our community has had many projects which have been accomplished by grants, donations and countless volunteer hours.

Examples of that progress include the local pool, ball diamonds, the library, Meals on Wheels…

A sign in a window advertises the chicken dinner served during Hey Days.

A sign in a window advertises the chicken dinner served during Hey Days.

The annual community celebration of Hey Days, slated for July 26 – 28, also involves countless hours of volunteerism. That’s the thing about small towns. People don’t necessarily sit and wait for someone else to do something. They just do it.

Part of the impressive vets' memorial.

Part of the impressive vets’ memorial.

I bet volunteers planned, raised funds for and helped build the veterans’ memorial park next to First Presbyterian Church at the end of the business district. It’s one of the most impressive memorials we’ve seen.

First Presbyterian Church, next to the veterans' memorial.

First Presbyterian Church, next to the veterans’ memorial.

Inside that lovely old church.

Inside that lovely old church.

That memorial is definitely worth a trip into town as is the church. We found the door unlocked and so let ourselves into this beautiful sanctuary. I’m pretty certain the guy working on a school bus at the bus garage was watching us.

Font art at the former newspaper office.

Font art at the former newspaper office.

And more art on the former news office.

And more art on the former news office.

Across the street, the font and paintings on the former Herald newspaper office, now a home, caught my eye. The newspaper is now merged as the Star Herald based in nearby Dodge Center.

The library on the left, the former newspaper office on the right.

The library on the left, the former newspaper office on the right.

Next door I tried the door of the library, only to find it locked.

Like most small towns, you will find a Legion and a bar and grill in Hayfield.

Like most small towns, you will find a Legion and a bar and grill in Hayfield.

Yes, when I explore small towns, I’ll always try the doors. Always.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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