Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Memorable Geneva, Minnesota June 29, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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RECENTLY I STOPPED in Geneva. That would be in Minnesota, not Switzerland, population hovering around 555. Or, if you have a sense of humor, 100,000. Someone scrawled that number onto a sign marking entry to this Freeborn County community just off Interstate 35 north of Albert Lea.

My only knowledge of Geneva comes from radio spots and the personal endorsement (from my friend Howard) for George’s of Geneva. The restaurant is known for its prime and barbecued ribs. So when my husband and I pulled into town on our meandering way home from an overnight get-away to Clear Lake, Iowa, I was scouting for George’s.

But a few other sites caught my attention first…


Geneva, crayon fence


…like a crayon fence


Geneva, post office


and the post office.


Geneva, George's of Geneva


Then I nearly missed George’s. I was watching for an impressive building with bold signage. Instead, this dining place is housed in a rather unassuming low-slung white building with understated signage. I wish we’d taken time to step inside. But it was the middle of the afternoon and we weren’t hungry.


I'm pretty certain my husband was coveting one of these vintage pick-up trucks. Me too.

I’m pretty certain my husband was coveting one of these vintage pick-up trucks. Me too.

Set in the heart of southern Minnesota farmland, Geneva is definitively rural.

Set in the heart of southern Minnesota farmland, Geneva is definitively rural.

Refrigerators/freezers are corralled outside Sovenson's Appliance.

Refrigerators/freezers are corralled outside Sorenson’s Appliance.


We continued our brief tour, driving along several residential and commercial streets.


Geneva, fenced garden


Geneva gives an impression that residents care. Not all small towns show that, meaning yards are unkempt and properties have fallen into disrepair.


Geneva, bear on bench


I’ll also remember the quirky side of Geneva, beginning with that population notation and crayon fence and then a carnival-sized teddy bear spotted lounging on a bench.

As we turned north out of town toward Blooming Prairie, I knew I would remember Geneva.

TELL ME, WHAT WOULD visitors remember if they drove into your community for a brief tour? Just in and out, what would be their impressions, positive and/or negative? Does your town need to work on improving its image?

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


17 Responses to “Memorable Geneva, Minnesota”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    Sadly, our town has a “when they come, we (MIGHT) build it”. ‘Nuff said…….

  2. Almost Iowa Says:

    Did you notice the amount of business for such a small place? What little town can boast an appliance store like Sorenson’s or Geneva Meats, or the lumber yard…. It is a lengthy list for a town of its size and says something about the town’s spirit.

    By the way, are you going to the big July 4th celebration in Blooming Prairie?

    • I didn’t notice the lumber yard. But I did think that about the appliance store, how fortunate that Geneva supports one.

      I assume you are going to be in BP on the Fourth? What’s planned there? I have other plans for the day. Have you ever been to the Fourth of July celebration in North Morristown? Now that’s about as authentic rural Americana as celebrations come.

  3. Dan Traun Says:

    I absolutely appreciate and enjoy small town character. Love the crayon fence.

  4. Beth Ann Says:

    Love the crayon fence. 🙂 The teddy needed a little bit of a prop but fun to see something like that in a town. I think our town is working on improving things but it still has some work to do as far as the welcoming factor when you come into town on the main highway.

  5. That crayon fence is my favorite, with the old pickups a close second. If someone drove into my neighborhood, they might come across the guy about a block and a half away from us who has a Jolly Green Giant in his back yard. He puts a red scarf on it in the winter. And that yard has the most amazing garden for a Roseville residence – all kinds of vegetables. That’s my favorite neighborhood landmark. A block or two past him is my favorite purple house that is in a modern style unlike any other house in our neighborhood. It’s low and clean-lined and, not only is the house purple, but it is surrounded by amazing old lilac bushes that bloom a shade of purple pretty darn close to the color of the house.

  6. Don Says:

    The garden picture really brings out the pride of that properties owner and the crayon fence must be a real treat to see in all the whiteness of winter.

    George’s Super Club, I would enjoy trying them. Hummm the term “Supper club” is a term that I have only seen and heard of in the Midwest and nowhere else. Seeing and hearing that always reminds me of home.

    Ahh home, come the end of July wife and I will be road tripping through Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan and avoiding the interstate and 4 lane roads whenever possible, I look forward to exploring the rural communities like you do!

    Geneva, I’m willing to bet that there was not a stoplight to be found there!

    • I’m with you on that garden. It’s beautiful and this was in mid May. Imagine how stunning it is now well into the growing season.

      The crayon fence simply makes me smile.

      Supper clubs are from a bygone era, with a few still remaining. To me supper will always be the evening meal. But to all to many, it’s dinner. So I always have to clarify time of meal if I’m meeting someone or am invited somewhere. If they say “dinner,” they may mean supper and I will think noon meal.

      No stoplight in Geneva.

  7. Jackie Says:

    I noticed a few of the crayon had “broken tips”…so realistic, HA! That fence is sure to draw attention to those passing by! I guess for Rochester we are know for our world famous Mayo Clinic, we have a beautiful downtown, very pleasing to the eye. Also we have the Giant corn cob water tower on the southeast side….did you see that when you were here?

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