Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Oddities at the Rice County Steam & Gas Engines Show, Part III September 8, 2017

Rows and rows of vintage tractors are a main attraction at the Rice County Steam & Gas Engines Show.


WHEN I’M OUT and about with my camera whether at an event or simply exploring a small town or other setting, I often seek out the off-the-wall, the unusual, the humorous. The Rice County Steam & Gas Engines Show in rural Dundas offers all three. I appreciate the creativity and humor displayed there. In these troubling and difficult times, we need diversions. We need laughter.

So I targeted seven scenes that grabbed my photographic attention in the categories of odd, funny, weird and, most certainly, creative. Take a look.



At the flea market, I noticed a fake bloody hand positioned next to vintage saws. Randy suggested we buy the appendage to gift to my sister at her annual Halloween-themed autumn soup party. The hand, the vendor said, was not for sale. His sister staged it next to the saws as a marketing gimmick. I’d like to meet his sister and introduce her to mine.





Then there’s Mike, who brought his 1930 Model A to the show. Typically one expects shiny restored cars showcased by proud owners. The Northfield man’s vintage Ford, though, is riddled with bullet holes. On purpose. After paying $800 for the car, Mike was advised that the decrepit Ford was not worth the $30K he would spend to properly refurbish it. Not to be discouraged, Mike and a friend shot up the Model A then created a story about Jesse James III killing two bank tellers while robbing a southern Missouri bank in 1932. The car was his get-away vehicle. Now the bullet-riddled Ford and the accompanying legend garner more interest than if Mike had spent all that money restoring his car.



Parked next to the Model A was yet another original—a customized Ford Courier pick-up transformed into a double-headed car by the crafty Andy’s Auto Body of Webster. That turned a few heads, including mine. And made me laugh.



Not everyone was laughing at the toy John Deere tractor George Pinc placed inside a jar atop his Farmall tractor. He got a less than courteous comment from a show attendee. George didn’t care. He’s not a loyal-to-one-brand type of guy. But he assuredly is a man with a sense of humor.



I don’t know the story behind the horns clamped to the top of another tractor. But the add-on caused me to smile.



And then, as I walked between rows of tractors, I noticed a boy (I think Mike’s son) on a banana seat bike towing a cooler. Again, I just had to smile at the ingenuity. Got a problem? Solve it.



Finally, there’s the water bottle. By itself, tucked in the crook of a tree, it means nothing. But there’s a story. I watched a guy stretch and place the bottle in the vee. Before he entered a porta potty. How smart is that? Got a problem? Solve it.

Sometimes in life you have to think and act beyond the expected and laugh. Just laugh.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


12 Responses to “Oddities at the Rice County Steam & Gas Engines Show, Part III”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Great pictures and stories and solutions to problems in this post today, Audrey. Thanks for the smiles.

  2. What To Expect When... Says:

    I can’t decide which entry I like the best, the detached hand next to the saws, the bullet-ridden Model A, or the tractor with the horns and flags.

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    For fun?

    Are you headed to the Defeat of Jesse James Days this weekend? If you are, say hi to Mark and Simeon at the Craft Brew and Distillery booth. 🙂

    I might be up there myself.

    • I usually steer clear of the massive crowds at DJJD. We have some events happening locally (flea market at the Rice County Historical Society, Family Day at the Faribault Farmer’s Market and a car show at Winjum’s) that present less crowded options. It should be a beautiful weekend to be outdoors.

  4. Littlesundog Says:

    I loved the story behind the bullet-ridden Model A. I have done this myself (in a way). I got tired of people asking me about a 3 inch scar on my upper back. Truthfully, I had a growth removed years ago that just kept getting bigger. It was harmless, but had begun to attach to the shoulder blade, so I had it removed. During the summer months I am always amazed at how many people ask what happened.Over the years I have had more thane a little fun with it and told people I was stabbed when I first moved here. It is a rough town after all, so the story is totally believable… well, it would be if I could keep a straight face every time I go to tell it! So do people believe the Model A story, or does Mike tell on himself?

  5. Valerie Says:

    Fun posting Audrey!

  6. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Great pictures! I love the old Model A

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