Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A collection of creative creches showcased in Faribault December 12, 2017

SEVERAL YEARS AGO, in a holiday funk, I opted to minimize my decorating. I’d get a Christmas tree and maybe set out a few other festive items. Mostly, though, I didn’t care. And I figured no one else would care either.

How wrong that assumption.


The Nativity set handcrafted by my maternal grandfather.


When the grown kids returned home for Christmas, they noticed the absence of the Nativity scene handcrafted by their great grandpa. It went up every year during their childhoods. Tradition, so it seems, holds value based on the protests of my offspring.

I never made the mistake again. The barn sawed, nailed and painted by my grandfather and the plaster of Paris baby Jesus, his parents and ensemble always go on display now. They should, given the reason for Christmas.


A holiday banner flags a light post next to the Paradise Center for the Arts.




The memory of that faux pas surfaced when I stopped recently at the Paradise Center for the Arts in historic downtown Faribault. I wanted to see the current (through December 22) gallery exhibit, Kathleen Putrah’s Creche Exhibition.



The show features samples from the rural Faribault woman’s 150 Nativity sets collected around the world.



Additionally, a Christmas tree holds some 700 ornaments accumulated by Putrah.





It’s an impressive collection, especially the uniqueness of some pieces. Never before have I seen the Holy Family portrayed as apes, an interpretation I found odd.


A painting by Adele Beals presents the traditional interpretation of the Nativity.


I’m more of a traditionalist.





But that’s the thing about art. It opens the doors to creative interpretation, both to the artist and to the art appreciator.


FYI: The Paradise Center for the Arts, 321 Central Avenue North, is open from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday and until 8 p.m. Thursdays. The creche exhibit runs through December 22.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


16 Responses to “A collection of creative creches showcased in Faribault”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    This would definitely be on my list to visit if I was closer. I organized a nativity exhibit at one of our churches years ago and it was so fun to see what other people had. There are so many great options and I have a pretty impressive collection of my own. I agree that the ape one in this exhibit is a little odd. I don’t know quite how I feel about it to be honest. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jackie Says:

    It funny how the kids notice when things are missing. I’m not a fan of those monkeys…. a strange interpretation of the Holy family, one that shouldn’t be messed with.

  3. Valerie Says:

    Another fun event in Faribault. We are touring the Alexander Faribault House on Saturday. Thanks Audrey, for writing about these special events.

  4. Valerie Says:

    Yes, we did go to Shattuck on Saturday. We went with Trace & Becky. It was fun to tour the buildings and we stayed for the mini concert in the chapel. I’m sorry we missed seeing you there.

    • Shoot. How could we have missed you four? We went to the figure skating show, then grabbed cookies and hot chocolate at Morgan Refectory before leaving. I had wanted to attend the concert, too, but we ran out of time. We had to deliver fruit baskets before church at 5:30. Too much to do in one day.

  5. Don Says:

    My neighbor has decorated extensively for every holiday and their house is known far and wide as a place to drive by and see their decorations. That being said, tradition is so important that when my neighbor fell off a ladder and broke his hip the neighborhood turned out in force to help him decorate for Christmas. People brought food, a metal fire pit and wood, a person kept the fire going for all to keep warm and the police officer that lives in the neighborhood stopped by to help and then to give some excitement to the young kids helping, he turned on his lights and siren as he drove off. Yup traditions are important…………….

  6. Gunny Says:

    Traditions are VERY important. Some traditions mark the passage of time, other welcome newbies and pay respects to those who have departed. A lot of things fall into the traditions category. Every year I try to light up the daylights of my house. I had all that work. The lights are not for me and my children (grown now) will not be home this year. I do it for all the children that pass by. I can recall going out with my parents to drive neighborhoods to see how they decorated. A lot was awesome!. Merry Christmas to all, best wishes for a Happy New Year. God Bless each and everyone! (I better cut this short, I’m starting to sound like some character in one of those Christmas stories.

    • Oh, Gunny, thank you for the gift of holiday lights that you share with your community. What a wonderful thing to do in the spirit of Christmas.

      Ad most blessed and Merry Christmas to you, too! And it’s OK if you’re sounding like a character in a Christmas story. Nothing wrong with that.

  7. […] I learned out about a Crèche Exhibition from Audrey Helbling’s Minnesota Prairie Roots blog I knew I wanted to go see it this Christmas season. The exhibit features several of Kathleen […]

  8. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    I’m with you on the traditional nativity scenes. Apes is a little strange but they are Gods creatures too.

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