NEITHER RAIN NOR…shall delay the painting of the former Sugardale barn along Interstate 35 north of the Northfield exit.
Late this morning, in the rain, a worker was touching up the “Thank You FARMERS” lettering now billboarded across this iconic Interstate side barn in southern Minnesota.
Only days ago I noticed the transformation from weathered red to a vivid blue, the blue of Wisconsin-based Culver’s. The restaurant chain has already painted four barns—two in Wisconsin, one in Illinois and another in Indiana—blue as part of its Thank You Farmers campaign. The blue barns symbolize gratitude for farmers who have made the company successful, according to Culver’s Director of Publications and Communications Paul Pitas.
Culver’s is also supporting the Future Farmers of America organization and accepting donations to the National FFA Foundation.
To thank farmers and to support future farmers is a good thing. I grew up doing chores and walking fields on a southwestern Minnesota dairy and crop farm. I understand the value of farmers.
I also understand the importance of the FFA organization. In the early 1970s, I broke the gender barrier and became the first girl to join the Wabasso High School FFA chapter. Decades later my niece, Hillary Kletscher, would lead that chapter as president. Just a few years ago, she served as the Minnesota FFA president.
Even with my strong rural background, or maybe because of it, I hold mixed feelings about Culver’s blue barns. I cannot get past the hue. A barn should be red. Or white. Or perhaps grey. But not an overpowering Culver’s blue.
Red marks tradition and for those of us with rural roots, tradition holds great value. Sources such as the Farmers Almanac reveal that, back in the day, many farmers sealed their barns with linseed oil (which is orange-hued) and sometimes added rust, which killed moss and fungi. Thus the red barns.
For years this barn along Interstate 35 has grabbed the attention of travelers with Sugardale Foods lettering painted on the face. Now that faded piece of local rural history has been covered with blue paint and the Thank You FARMERS message.
And the silo, well, now that’s Culver’s blue, too. Blue belongs on Harvestore, not cement stave, silos, in my opinion.
In time, this barn will likely become a beloved Interstate landmark. And memories of the weathered Sugardale barn will fade…
© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling