SMALL TOWNS INTRIGUE ME. Each possesses a unique character.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Next door I tried the door of the library, only to find it locked.
Yes, when I explore small towns, I’ll always try the doors. Always.
© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling