Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A favorite fall event in Minnesota: SeptOberfest in Wabasha September 26, 2018

I photograph festive Hill’s Hardware Hand nearly every time I’m in Wabasha. A photo I took of the hardware store several years ago hangs near the Our World hardware store exhibit (modeled after Hill’s) at the Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul.


WABASHA IN SOUTHEASTERN MINNESOTA ranks as a favorite fall day trip for me. I love everything about this community from its historic architecture to the river to the National Eagle Center to its annual celebration of autumn and much more.


Banners throughout the downtown add to the charm.


A riverside play area awaits kids in Wabasha’s version of “Zootopia.”


A creative way of measuring height in Zootopia.


Another look at Zootopia, packed with activities for the kids.


An elephant slide zips kids down the hill into riverside Zootopia.


This Mississippi River town, population around 2,500, knows how to promote itself with fall-themed activities, events and attractions for all ages. From a pumpkin derby to a straw maze, petting zoo, kids’ themed play area, seasonal boutiques, a German parade and lots more, activities abound during SeptOberfest.


Outside a salon, a pumpkin transforms into the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz.


Across from the Pumpkin Patch, an eye-catching street corner scene.


Pumpkins galore…these on a picnic table in the Pumpkin Patch.


Beyond that, I delight in the pumpkins, straw bales, scarecrows, shocks, German flags and other décor which add seasonal visual interest.


All over downtown are old buildings and harvest displays.


This all takes planning, hard work and time. I want the good folks of Wabasha to know I appreciate their efforts. They understand the value of bringing people into town, of growing as a fall destination, of promoting their community.


“Grumpy Old Men,” a film set in Wabasha in 1993, themes this year’s straw maze.


Gigantic sunflowers brighten the Pumpkin Patch.


Pumpkins transformed into characters from the movie “Trolls.”


Last year my eldest daughter, her husband and our then 1 1/2-year-old granddaughter joined us on a weekend afternoon to take in the kids’ activities. Izzy loved the riverside Zootopia play space, the straw maze and the Pumpkin Patch. This year Randy and I stopped in Wabasha on a late weekday afternoon. There were no crowds, only a few kids playing at Zootopia. The town was mostly shutting down for the day. But weekends you can expect crowds, though not overwhelming, with lots of families enjoying SeptOberfest.


There’s lots to do in the Pumpkin Patch, including playing tic-tac-toe.


If you’ve never been to Wabasha in the autumn, I’d encourage you to visit. There’s still lots happening in October. Click here to learn more. Also head down Minnesota State Highway 61 to LARK TOYS on the outskirts of nearby Kellogg for a spin on the handcarved carousel and a visit to the toy store and other attractions.


An overview of the Pumpkin Patch created under the bridge that connects Wabasha, Minnesota, to Nelson, Wisconsin.


For someone like me who appreciates small towns, especially river towns, and loves autumn, Wabasha offers an ideal one-day get-away.

TELL ME: Have you ever been to Wabasha’s SeptOberfest? Or tell me about another small town autumn celebration you’ve attended and enjoyed.

Check back for another post from Wabasha.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


18 Responses to “A favorite fall event in Minnesota: SeptOberfest in Wabasha”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    I reminder that post about Izzy and the Zootopia playground so when i saw this post I thought there might be some pics of her again. I do love a good autumn themed festival and this one looks like it would fit the bill. Thanks for sharing.

    • I don’t think we’ll be going this year with Izzy, although I’d certainly love to do so. Maybe next year, when there are two grandchildren. Izzy would love the Trolls pumpkins as she’s crazy about Poppy and all things Trolls.

  2. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    That sounds like a wonderful day trip from the Twin Cities! I might just have to meander down that way.

  3. Bella Says:

    Loved everything about it and wish I could go and see for myself . Really liked the candy corn corner display would certainly love it in my yard guess I will be satisfied with my pumpkin and scarecrow. .

  4. Almost Iowa Says:

    When taking a day trip to Wabasha, check out Reed’s Landing just a short bit north. My brother and I ate there after a long summer day kayaking on Buffalo Slough. Great beer, great food.

  5. Such CREATIVITY and Oh What FUN!!! We are thinking about doing a spin on Day of the Dead with a Florida Twist for our front yard display this year. Fall is probably tops in my books for all out decorating. Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  6. This looks like so much fun!

  7. valeriebollinger Says:

    I love those Mississippi river towns! Fun photos Audrey.

  8. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    I still love this idea. What a cute fun place for kids

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