Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Vote for Minnesota Prairie Roots as the best blog in southern Minnesota August 1, 2014

southern minnesota scene best of logoTHE NOMINATIONS ARE IN, dear readers, for the “Best of Southern Minnesota 2014,” sponsored by the regional arts and entertainment magazine Southern Minnesota Scene.

And, ta-da, Minnesota Prairie Roots/Audrey Kletscher Helbling is among nominees for best blog/blogger, along with Dennis Vogen and Anhedonic Headphones/Kevin Krein.

I am honored. Truly. To those of you who nominated me, thank you.

Now, you have one month, until 11:59 p.m. September 1, to vote.

Click here to cast your ballot for Minnesota Prairie Roots and nominations in more than 150 other categories of “best ofs” in southern Minnesota. You need only register your name and email (there’s a promise not to sell your information).

You will find the blog/blogger ballot in the miscellaneous category, near the bottom of the page.

If you are reading this post, you likely are already among the nearly 1,000 Minnesota Prairie Roots subscribers. You know that I write from the heart about places I go, people I meet, everyday life, area events, my native prairie, the arts, small towns, poetry and so much more.

Writing and photography are my passions.

I love Minnesota. I love sharing stories and photos from rural Minnesota. It’s as simple as that. I give this place, and you, a voice through my words and images.

If you are so inclined, please share this “vote for Minnesota Prairie Roots” request via good old-fashioned word-of-mouth or on Facebook and/or Twitter. I’m not on either social media outlet. I know. I’m among the last hold-outs, just like the last one to get a cell phone several years ago. My husband and I still get our TV reception from a roof-top antenna.

But that’s me—the woman who hangs her laundry on the line, finds the scent of freshly-mown alfalfa intoxicating and writes with a passion.

Again, click here to vote.

Thank you for your support, but most of all, for reading Minnesota Prairie Roots.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


In Mankato: Bringing poetry to the public in parks & along trails

WHEN WE FINALLY DETOURED our way around all the road construction to Lions Park in Mankato, we wondered how we would find my poem selected for the 2014 Mankato Poetry Walk and Ride.

“It’s probably right there, by the garbage,” my husband suggested when I noted a sign post nearby.

There's my poetry sign, by the garbage can.

There’s my poetry sign, by the garbage can.

And he was right. “Bandwagon,” my 14 line poem based on the long-running, locally-produced television show by the same name, is posted next to a paved trail, by a garbage can, at the park’s north entry in a quiet residential neighborhood not all that far from Minnesota State University Mankato.

My poem, "Bandwagon."

My poem, “Bandwagon.”

On this Saturday morning, not a soul stirred as my husband punched (507) 403-4038 into his cell phone and then, when prompted, 428, to listen to me read my poem as part of the “Mankato on the Move” audio tour.

A recreational trail winds past my poetry sign in Lions Park North.

A recreational trail winds past my poetry sign in Lions Park.

This marks the second time my writing has been selected for the Mankato Poetry Walk and Ride, a second year project of the Southern Minnesota Poets Society designed to bring poetry to the public via signs placed in parks and along recreational trails.

I love the concept, the unassuming way in which these poems have been integrated into the community. This exposes poetry in a creative setting—outside the walls of a library, bookstore, educational institution or coffee shop. And for those of us who write poetry, it’s just one more opportunity to showcase our writing and appreciate the creative talents of other poets.

Me by my poetry sign.

Me by my poetry sign.

When I penned “Bandwagon,” I tapped into my memories of watching Bandwagon, a show which debuted in November 1960 on Mankato television station KEYC-TV. The program featured, and still features, audience members dancing to the music of old-time bands. It is one of the longest running, locally-produced entertainment programs in Minnesota television. The show is taped at 6:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month at the Kato Entertainment Center and then aired the following four weekends.

I haven’t seen Bandwagon in four decades, not since I left the farm where my father drove his John Deere to the hay bunk and my mom may, or may not, have swayed her hips to “Cherry Pickers Polka.” All poets are allowed some poetic license.

John Deere tractors galore lined up at the 2009 Rice County Steam & Gas Engine Show. Santa will likely arrived on a newer model John Deere at this week's SEMA Equipment holiday open houses.

John Deere, an original sponsor of Bandwagon. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Back in the day, I knew the show as The John Deere Bandwagon, given its sponsorship by the farm implement company.

The Ray Sands Band played at the 2011 Germanfest.

The Ray Sands Band plays at a church celebration. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo used for illustration purposes only.

I can still hear MC Chuck Pasek introducing the bands and musical selections. And I can still see those couples twirling across the dance floor…

FYI: For more information about the Mankato Poetry Walk and Ride, including locations of the 2014 poetry boards, click here.

Please check back for another post featuring the writing of 12-year-old Hannah Leraas whose poem was selected in a youth division and is posted in Mankato’s Sibley Park. I’ve mentored Hannah.

The Mankato Poetry Walk and Ride is sponsored by Mayo Clinic Health System, Creative Ad Solutions Inc., Voyageur Web and the cities of Mankato and North Mankato.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if other communities, like my community of Faribault with an extensive park and trails system, would start a poetry walk and ride?

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling