Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Beyond the Big Woods on Nerstrand’s Main Street July 28, 2016

Driving westbound into Nerstrand, Minnesota.

Driving westbound into Nerstrand, Minnesota.

WITH A POPULATION of only 253, you might expect Nerstrand to be a quiet small town with, as some could surmise, not a lot going for it. But that would be an inaccurate assessment.

A farm site just east of Nerstrand.

A farm site just east of Nerstrand.

Just north of Nerstand, country gravel roads run through the hilly terrain.

North of Nerstand, country gravel roads run through hilly terrain.

I photographed this truck in a field drive west of Nerstrand.

I photographed this parked truck just outside of Nerstrand to the west.

This farming community in eastern Rice County is known for many things including the local ag equipment dealer, Isaacson Implement; the highly-touted Nerstrand Elementary School; nearby Nerstrand Big Woods State Park; and Nerstrand Meats and Catering.

Nerstrand Meats.

Nerstrand Meats is a popular stop in this small southeastern Minnesota community.

This sign marks the meat market.

This sign marks the meat market.

In business for 125 years...

In business for 125 years…

On a recent Saturday, while on the 2016 Eat Local Farm Tour, my husband and I stopped in Nerstrand to purchase meat at the family-owned meat market open since 1890. While Randy ducked into the shop, I snapped a few exterior photos before joining him in the small storefront space that smells of smoked meats, the market’s specialty.

A small section of the fresh meat counter.

A small section of the fresh meat counter.

Randy chose smoked chops, Nerstrand weiners and a half pound of dried beef. He’s the big meat eater in our house. I could live on fruits and vegetables.

Notices in a storefront window half a block from the meat market. So typical of a small town.

Notices in a storefront window half a block from the meat market. So typical of a small town.

While the clerk packaged his purchases, I headed out the door to see the rest of this several-block downtown. That tour didn’t take long.

Another view of Nerstrand Meats.

Another view of Nerstrand Meats. How convenient and necessary the ice machine.

Yet, I left this small town knowing Nerstrand is a destination for many—whether in need of farm equipment, in need of an education, in need of a get-away or in need of fresh smoked meats.

The fire hall and city hall sit next to Nerstrand Meats.

The fire hall and city hall sit next to Nerstrand Meats.

TELL ME: What small town have you discovered that offers unexpected reasons to visit?

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Advertisements
 

24 Responses to “Beyond the Big Woods on Nerstrand’s Main Street”

  1. Dan Traun Says:

    This is it. I drive here specifically for Nerstrand Meats. Their pepper jack meet stix are the best I’ve encountered in my travels. All of their meat is exquisite.

  2. Valerie Says:

    Big Woods State Park is a favorite of mine. And we shop at Nerstrand Meats…and would make a special trip there for their hams.

  3. Loving your captures of small town living 🙂 I miss the meat markets. I actually live in a small community (36,000 pop.) within a much bigger area (2.8 million pop.). We are loving our new hood, especially exploring and adventuring around – we mainly bike into the main drag and hang out (have 5 small towns on the bike trail with plenty of food and craft breweries). Happy Day – Enjoy!

  4. I love a small town that is still running and kept up.

  5. Don Says:

    Humm excuse my ignorance, but what is “Kona Ice” as it is listed in the sign in the window? The only Kona I know is a town in Hawaii.

    Looks like a great small town, I will have to look at a map and find where it is and thus add to my list of places to stop during an upcoming road trip! I enjoy stopping at places that have been in business (Nerstrand Meats) for that many years, it shows they are doing something right!

  6. Don Says:

    Snow cone says it all to me now I know!

    Fantastic! No Stoplights! But I will still stop for the town!

  7. hotlyspiced Says:

    The butcher-shop looks really interesting. I can’t imagine living in a town of so few people! Some of your images reminded me of the early scenes in the movie about Johnny Cash. It looks like a very serene and peaceful part of the world xx

  8. Beth Ann Says:

    The butcher shop looks amazing. I would definitely stop there. I am still looking for that type of place in Brevard. A restaurant opened up a small butcher shop on the side but it is very limited as to what they offer and it is not consistent. There is nothing like a small town butcher shop in my humble opinion. Great find, Audrey.

  9. chlost Says:

    It’s interesting that butcher shops seem to be a cornerstone for other small towns as well. Nicollet has Schmidt Meat Market, which I understand is wonderful. Thielen Meats in Pierz, McDonald’s Meats in Clear Lake, are also supposed to be excellent. I know of people who visit those towns especially for the meat markets there.
    Then there is the Vegan Butcher shop in the Twin Cities. We have it all in Minnesota!

  10. Debi Maxson Says:

    My husband and I are living in Gainesville, Missouri population 773…..the population was about 600 when we came here. Mostly rural and altogether secluded with generations of families dating back to the Civil War. One grocery, two banks, two convenience stores(owned by same family), five churches, an all volunteer-all donation library, two law offices, and a town square with the courthouse smack dab in the middle. … …HOME


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s