Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Discovering the arts at an historic Minnesota ag show, Part IV September 12, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Farm art on a dish at the flea market.


AN EVENT FOCUSING on farming of bygone years might be the last place you would expect to experience the arts. But the biannual Rice County Steam & Gas Engines Show always showcases the arts through music, hands-on demos, flea market vendors and more. At least from my perspective.


The Czech Area Concertina Club performs.






This year I watched and listened as seasoned musicians eased concertinas in and out, in and out. A trio of kids twirled on the gravel floor of the music barn next to a John Deere tractor in an impromptu dance recital.



At the flea market, jars of golden honey showcased the culinary arts, beeswax candles the visual arts.







At the booth of Larry and Nicholas Ahrens, I found a gallery of garden art crafted from gas cans, shovels, railroad spikes, horseshoes, golf clubs and more. I admire the ingenuity of artists who can sculpt such art from what some might consider junk. This pair does it well.



Likewise handcrafted embroidered greeting cards from Boho Boutique and Gifts, New Prague, drew my interest for their uniqueness.











Often I see art in flea market merchandise displays—a cluster of angled rolling pins, a collage of toy farm wagons, three pieces of vintage 70s Sarah Coventry jewelry, a solo woodcarving and more.






On the back of a t-shirt.


As an appreciator of the graphic arts, I am drawn to letters and words in advertising, in comic books, machinery manuals and even on license plates.



To my surprise, I discovered the literary arts on a tree mural memorial in the words of Psalm 96:12. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy.



Beyond those words, outside on the grassy field punctuated by shade trees, I saw art, too, in the curves of tractor bodies, the spokes of a steering wheel, the jagged treads of a tire. This ag-focused event celebrates the arts with a decidedly rural twist.


Please check back for one more post in this five-part series.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


12 Responses to “Discovering the arts at an historic Minnesota ag show, Part IV”

  1. Jackie Says:

    I really like that gas can and shovel art. These kinds of events are always so fun to attend. looking forward to your continued posts on this subject. (Glad to see that you are back to your pictures taking, love all the photo’s)

  2. Almost Iowa Says:

    I saw art, too, in the curves of tractor bodies, the spokes of a steering wheel

    Yes, indeed. It took an industrial design artist to create those forms. It is an under appreciated talent, not only does it have to look good, it has to function well.

    Except for faucets…….there, form trumps function and though they are often strikingly beautiful – it takes hours to figure out how to get them to work.

  3. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    The many ways we can see beauty are certainly showcased here. Those concertinas are gorgeous! And I loved the gas can art – I think I need one of those jack o’lanterns. But that you offered art and beauty from so many sources people tend to overlook is a wonderful way of getting us to shift our perspective, which is something I truly appreciate.

  4. I love the old rolling pins! Some of that stuff is quite ingenious!

  5. Beth Ann Says:

    I just used one of those old rolling pins over the weekend when I made cinnamon rolls. The one I used was Chris’s grandma’s and it made many a pie crust and roll. Great shots of some wonderful art.

  6. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Great pictures! I love the rolling pin collection! I had to go back and give them another look before I left a comment.

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