Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A quick stop in the Minnesota German city of New Ulm August 3, 2017

Domeier’s German Store, snugged into a residential neighborhood for decades, is a must-see German import shop in New Ulm.


NESTLED IN THE MINNESOTA RIVER Valley, New Ulm has long been one of my favorite Minnesota communities. I love not only the sweep and rise of the valley and hills, but also the vibe of this definitively German city.


Nutcrackers peer out a window at Domeier’s.


My maternal family roots run deep in this region. Drop the surname Bode at the Guten Tag Haus in downtown New Ulm and a look of familiarity flashes across a clerk’s face. She knows the name. My ancestors settled just to the east in the farmland surrounding nearby Courtland.

Last weekend en route to a wedding in southwestern Minnesota, Randy and I scheduled time in New Ulm to peruse a thrift store and two German gift shops. I was looking for ethnic items for an upcoming Helbling family reunion. We’re having an Oktoberfest theme to celebrate my in-laws’ heritage. The mini German flags I needed as accents for bouquets of flowers in steins were elusive given the community’s recent Bavarian Blast. I found one at a price I was willing to pay. I need six.


The thrift shop Oktoberfest bier mug from Bismarck is perfect given the Helblings settled (and still mostly live) in that region of North Dakota. I found the last remaining 99-cent cotton German flag at the Guten Tag Haus.


Still, we scored, among other items, two bier mugs at the MVAC Thrift Store, German chocolate mice at Domeier’s German Store and that coveted German flag at the Guten Tag Haus, some at Crazy Days bargain prices. Success.


A snippet view of German Park.


This monument in German Park honors those who suffered in the US-Dakota War of 1862 which was centered in southwestern Minnesota.


Nearby a whimsical sculpture reminds visitors to keep the park clean.


In between shopping, Randy and I stopped for a picnic lunch and a respite at the beautiful German Park a block from New Ulm’s main drag. Here a fountain centers lovely gardens and pieces of art.

Whenever I’m in New Ulm, I feel comfortably at home. Sure, my ancestral roots are in this region. But it’s more than that. This southwestern Minnesota community works hard to preserve and present its German heritage in a welcoming way. I love that about New Ulm.


FYI: Click here to read a 2015 photo rich post I published on beautiful German Park.

Ā© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


18 Responses to “A quick stop in the Minnesota German city of New Ulm”

  1. Washe Koda Says:

    Glad you are healed! I enjoy Minnesota stuff. Am from Anoka yrs ago šŸ™‚

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    Love that sculpture. What a cute little guy to remind folks to keep the park clean.

  3. This is Beautiful! Makes me want to go!

  4. Almost Iowa Says:

    Last month on a trip to New Ulm, we visited the nearby Fort Ridgely State Park.

    It is an interesting place – and by reading some of the placards at the fort, I learned that the majority of the soldiers there were immigrants, mostly from Ireland and Germany and that the desertion rate was close to 20%.

    During the battle of Fort Ridgely, the commanding officer was a 19 year old Lieutenant who had only been in the army for six months.

  5. I’ve heard Minnesota being called the land of blonde hair and blue eyes, don’t think that’s quite fair. I recall New Ulm being the home of Old Time
    Music and the Six Fat Dutchmen. Great little town.

  6. Littlesundog Says:

    Any time I hear “New Ulm” I am reminded of one of my very favorite movies, “New In Town”. Whenever I am homesick for Nebraska, I watch that movie… it reminds me greatly of the north country winter weather and the ways of the people of the upper Midwest. I hope to visit there one day, especially after reading this post and seeing so many interesting comments.

  7. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Now that looks like a fun place to visit. It haven’t researched my German background at all.

  8. Gunny Says:

    Love it! I enjoy German food to the max. I got inlaws and outlaws in New Ulm. Next time I’m up, I will be sure to pay a visit. My GGGG Aunt was over north of Yankton on the James River in present day North Dakota when the Sioux Uprising went down. My Uncle got called up for the militia. After everyone got back, Aunt Dorothea and the rest of those pioneering women stated flatly that they were going back to Albert Lea! It took the next generation in 1880 to move into the Dakotas.

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