Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Shareholders vote to sell historic Blue Earth County Fairgrounds January 10, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 12:52 PM
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The beef barn, shaded by an oak tree.

This beef barn is representative of the many old buildings which grace the 154-year-old Blue Earth County Fairgrounds. The oak-covered fairgrounds sits along the Watonwan River in Garden City, Minnesota.

THE VOTE IS IN.

And if all goes as planned, the Blue Earth County Fair will move from an historic 154-year-old site in Garden City to within a two-mile radius of Mankato, 10 miles away.

Shareholders, during a special meeting Thursday evening, voted 175 in favor and 76 against to sell the long-time fairgrounds, according to an article in the Mankato Free Press. (Click here to read that story.) That sale authorization paves the way for possible construction of a new fairgrounds near Mankato, the county seat and county’s center of population.

For background on this story, click here and read my post, “Deciding the future of the historic Blue Earth County Fairgrounds.” Also click here to read an earlier post about my visit to the fairgrounds in July.

I am disappointed. Once an historic gem like this is lost, you can never replace it. Let’s hope, at least, that those old buildings can be saved.

And I wonder, too, whether simply moving the fair will increase attendance and push the fair out of debt.

This will be an interesting process, no matter what side of the issue you favor.

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Discovering an historic church in Garden City

I found the doors of First Baptist Church locked while in Garden City this past July.

I found the doors of First Baptist Church locked while in Garden City this past July.

THE FRUSTRATING FACT for me as a photographer, when I come upon an aged church, is that most often I find the doors locked. I understand. Churches need to protect not only their buildings but also the valuables therein.

My first glimpse of this historic 1868 church.

My first glimpse of this historic 1868 church.

So, unless you have been inside the First Baptist Church in Garden City or seen interior photos elsewhere, you will simply have to imagine what lies within this church constructed in 1868 a block from the Watonwan River.

Those 1868 cement blocks, up close.

Those 1868 cement blocks, up close.

Built of locally-made Geist and Huntzelman cement blocks, the building holds special significance as the earliest known use of concrete blocks in Minnesota. In 1980, the church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Looking up toward the belfry.

Looking up toward the belfry.

It is built in the Greek Revival style, with a belfry added later. In 1959, a concrete block addition was added at the rear of the church.

How wonderful that this remains a functioning church.

How wonderful that this remains a functioning church.

Apparently the structure still functions as a church with the Rev. Harvey Hallada leading 9 a.m. Sunday worship services.

Now sometimes photographers, like my friend Jackie who blogs at “Who Will Make Me Laugh,” find a church door open. Jackie appreciates old churches, barns and drives in the country as much as I do. So be sure to click here to read Jackie’s post showcasing Pilot Mound Lutheran Church in the Chatfield area. She found one gem of a church and several other wonderful old buildings and scenes while on a recent Saturday afternoon drive with her husband.

I’d encourage all of you to follow Jackie and another photo blogger, Dan over at Dan Traun Photography, if you enjoy viewing photographic results of a drive in the country or through the city (that would be Dan).

A side view of the church in Garden City, located 60-70 miles from my home.

A side view of the church in Garden City, located 60-70 miles from my home.

I’d encourage you also to find time in 2014 for country drives. There is much to be discovered nearby, in our own backyards, if only we will take the time to look.

FYI: These photos were taken in July during a brief stop in Garden City, south of Mankato along U.S. Highway 169. See posts from the past two days for additional images shot in Garden City.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling