Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In Hayfield, Part III: Free squash at The Legion November 17, 2016

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ONE OF MY PHOTOGRAPHIC passions involves small towns. I love to day-trip to Minnesota communities with my husband and then explore. By explore, I mean park our vehicle along Main Street and then walk around downtown before also perusing city streets. I always find something quirky, something interesting, something truly small townish.

A snippet of downtown Hayfield looking from The Flying Monkey Saloon toward the post office and grain elevator.

A snippet of downtown Hayfield looking from Flying Monkey Saloon toward the post office and grain elevator.


Take a recent Saturday morning stop in Hayfield. Here’s how this community promotes itself online:

Welcome to Hayfield, MN, a sprawling community of 1,300 residents nestled on the corner of Highway 30 and 56 and is almost equal distances from Austin and Rochester in south-east Minnesota.

Hayfield is “close enough to Rochester, but just far enough away” and prides itself with a booming local economy with over 40 local businesses.





Well-crafted words can make any place sound inviting. Only a visit can distinguish between polished PR and reality. I’m happy to report that Hayfield truly is small town neighborly as evidenced at Rothie American Legion Post 330. There, on the back patio, I spotted a sign, Squash Free For the takeing (sic).




As I photographed the sign, a Legion member pulled up in his van; he’d just finished erecting a flagpole. He invited me to help myself to the hybrid squash grown by Charlie Williams of Brownsdale.




And so I grabbed one of the smallest orbs—not just squash, but a symbol of rural Minnesota and the generosity of those who live there.


This concludes my series of stories, and earlier posts (click here and then click here and, finally, click here), from Hayfield.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling