Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In Hayfield, Part I: Snapshots of a Minnesota farming community November 14, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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I pulled this logo from The City of Hayfield, Minnesota, website.

I pulled this logo from The City of Hayfield, Minnesota, website.


HAYFIELD. EVEN THE NAME sounds rural. Hay. Field.




This Dodge County farming community of around 1,300 reminds me of my hometown, Vesta, a much smaller town of around 330 on the southwestern Minnesota prairie.




Both are rooted in agriculture, most visually evident in the local grain elevators.




But it was the discovery of seemingly abandoned vintage grain wagons in Hayfield that drew my primary personal interest. I remember such wagons brimming with corn and soybeans. I remember hiding inside these empty cavities as my siblings and I played out the 1960s TV westerns we watched. Such memories.

Today I am drawn to explore small towns because they connect me to my past, to the place and the people that shaped me.




There’s something about a rural community that weaves people together through the commonality of living in the same intimate space. Lives crisscross in school hallways, in post offices, inside churches, at the bank, outside the grain elevator…in grocery stores (if a small town still has one, and Hayfield does).




Most often, but not always, community pride runs strong. I see that in volunteer fire departments; in local Legions that, despite dwindling membership, remain open; in annual community festivals; and Friday night steak fries. Bingo, too.




And, especially, in the schools, if a small town is still fortunate enough to have its own school. And Hayfield does.

TELL ME: How do you define a small town and do you have a favorite?

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling