Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In Elysian: A memorable small town Minnesota summer celebration July 9, 2015

Vintage vehicles lined several blocks of Elysian's Main Street for the 21st annual Car, Motorcycle and Tractor Show on Sunday, July 5.

Vintage vehicles line several blocks of Elysian’s Main Street for the 21st annual Car, Motorcycle and Tractor Show on Sunday, July 5.

FOLKS IN SMALL TOWNS have a way of working together to create community events that are truly remarkable. It’s that sense of ownership, that strong connection to place, the importance of tradition and the love of community and family which, I think, prompt locals to continue year after year with time-honored celebrations like Elysian’s July Fourth weekend gathering.

Another view of the car show.

Another view of the car show.

Sunday afternoon we drove through this southeastern Minnesota lakeside town on our return to Faribault from southwestern Minnesota. I noticed the Car Show sign along Minnesota Highway 60 and people gathered. So we stopped. While the husband perused the vintage cars, the son and I watched the Kids’ Pedal Tractor Pull and checked out the Trail of History.

As we were leaving, Miss Elysian royalty were handing out Car Show trophies.

As we were leaving, Miss Elysian royalty were handing out Car Show trophies.

The holiday weekend celebration was winding down when we arrived. So we missed a lot. Yet, there was enough to see that I’m enticed to return next summer. Events actually began June 26 with royalty coronations and end this Saturday with two triathlons.

Farmers Friends 4-H Club advertised its root beer floats on a vintage chalkboard along the Trail of History, which the club sponsored.

Farme’rs Friends 4-H Club advertised its root beer floats on a vintage chalkboard along the Trail of History. When we ordered the floats, a woman scooped vanilla ice cream into red solo cups and handed us cans of root beer to make our own floats. How small town is that?

As we lounged with root beer floats on grass in the shade of trees lining the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail, I considered how fortunate I was to enjoy small town Minnesota on a stunning summer afternoon with two guys I love.

Sawing wood the old-fashioned way next to the Farmer's Friends 4-H Club tent.

Sawing wood the old-fashioned way next to the Farmer’s Friends 4-H Club tent.

Love this grassroots sign.

Love this grassroots sign posted in front of the food tent.

Old-fashioned games like a pop ring toss were available to play.

Old-fashioned games like a pop ring toss were available to play.

On the Trail of History, the Horner explained how items are crafted from horns/bones.

On the Trail of History, “the Horner” explained how items are crafted from horns/bones.

Another historian shared how plants can be used as natural remedies.

Another historian shared how plants can be used as natural remedies.

A fitting July Fourth weekend sign posted outside a Trail of History tent.

A fitting July Fourth weekend sign posted outside a Trail of History tent.

I absolutely love this aged building along Elysian's Main Street. These two cars were in the car show.

An aged garage along Elysian’s Main Street serves as the backdrop for cars in the Car Show.

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WHAT ABOUT YOU? Is there a community event you attend or volunteer with each year? What makes for a successful community celebration?

FYI: Click here to see my previous post about the Kids’ Pedal Tractor Pull in Elysian.

Β© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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21 Responses to “In Elysian: A memorable small town Minnesota summer celebration”

  1. Now that we have moved to another state we are on the lookout for these type of community events. Checked out some craft shows and farmers markets, but have not quite found one that has really drawn us in yet. Happy Exploring – Enjoy πŸ™‚

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    Small towns really do have it down when it comes to promoting special events like this. I love the opportunity to go to things like this as long as the crowds aren’t crazy big. As a matter of fact I am headed to Clear Lake tonight for Thursdays on Main which is another amazing event in the summer. Even get to hear a concert by the daughter of a blogger friend which will be a lot of fun.

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    WHAT ABOUT YOU? Is there a community event you attend or volunteer with each year?

    We attend the big July 4th celebration in Blooming Prairie. We have to because we have a very important role in the festivities. It goes like this:

    “Dudders, don’t cry. There will be more candy coming.”

    “Shelby…. don’t push Dudders out of the way. Let him pick up some candy.”

    “Dudder, don’t cry. We know you don’t like the candy they just threw, but more will be coming.”

    “Shelby… don’t push…”

  4. This looks like a lot of fun. I love attending history events. I don’t have a local event that I attend but we are planning to go to the Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant later this month.

  5. hotlyspiced Says:

    I love all the images and I would like to play the pop ring game – that crate of soft drinks looks really inviting. Did you see the comment on my blog from someone who replied to your comment regarding passionfruit? Passionfruit has always been in such abundance in my life that I’m struggling to believe it’s not available in the USA. What a shame – it’s as good as mangoes! xx


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