Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The holiday spirit comes to Faribault during Winterfest this week (end) November 28, 2018

This classic vintage pick-up truck decorated by Brushworks Signs rated as one of my favorite entries in last year’s Winterfest parade. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo December 2017.


MORE AND MORE, COMMUNITIES in greater Minnesota are discovering the value in creating holiday events that attract locals and visitors. That includes Faribault, which this week hosts Winterfest, an expansion of the long-running Hometown Holidays.

It’s a smart move on the part of host, Faribault Main Street. Anything that brings people into Faribault benefits tourism and businesses through exposure and sales. This marks the second year of Winterfest, highlighted last December by a Parade of Lights. This year fireworks precede the 5:30 p.m. Saturday parade along Central Avenue in our historic downtown.


Faribault’s version of the Polar Express. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo December 2017.


But before I expound on Saturday, there’s Thursday’s Hometown Holidays evening of family-oriented attractions and activities from 5 – 7:30 p.m. at Buckham Center. From greeting Santa and his reindeer to crafts, music, snacks, a holiday movie and more, families will find plenty to do. I wish my granddaughter lived closer. I’d take her.


Local merchants showcase the holiday spirit in window displays. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo December 2017.


A few blocks away in the heart of the business district, the holiday spirit prevails Thursday evening in a window decorating contest, horse-drawn wagon rides, ice carving, and caroling by Due North, a Minneapolis-based a cappella group. From 6 – 8 p.m. our local art center hosts the Paradise Center for the Arts Acoustic Gallery featuring music by Cannon River Currents and artisan gifts crafted by 20 regional artists at the Holly Days Sale. Downtown shops will be open, too.

That’s Thursday. Friday focuses on teens with open gym and swim, board games and other activities at the Faribault Community Center from 6 – 8 p.m.


Me, ringing bells for the Salvation Army outside Walmart. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


Then comes Saturday, a day so jam-packed with events that I wonder how I can possibly get to everything. I’m also ringing bells for the Salvation Army for two hours.


The table set for Christmas guests at the Alexander Faribault house. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo December 2017.


Saturday at 10 a.m., the Rice County Historical Society opens the doors to the home of our town founder for a French-Canadian Christmas at the Alexander Faribault House. That runs until 3 p.m. But if Saturday doesn’t work for you, the historic home will also be open on Friday from 4 – 7 p.m. It’s a fun way to learn about Faribault history in a festive setting.


The back of the parade as it heads north along Central Avenue in downtown Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo December 2017.


History will also be on display along Central Avenue at the Faribault Sno-Go Club Vintage Snowmobile Show from 1 – 4 p.m. Saturday. Then, as darkness settles, units start arriving for the 5:30 p.m. parade with the fireworks kick-off. A street dance follows from 6:30 – 10 p.m.

In between, you can take in Mick Sterling Presents “At Christmas,” a blended show of music and comedy opening at 7:30 p.m. at the Paradise Center for the Arts. Sunday brings another holiday show with the Paradise Children’s Theatre performing “The Nutcracker Prince” at 2 p.m. and again at 4 p.m.


Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2014.


That’s a lot happening in my community. And I’m sure there’s more, like the annual craft and bake sale and luncheon at Peace Lutheran Church on Saturday.


Crowds gather along historic Central Avenue as the sun sets before the 2017 Parade of Lights. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2017.


I’m grateful to all who are working so hard to bring the holiday spirit to Faribault through Winterfest and other events. Thank you.

TELL ME: Does your community host any big holiday events?

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


14 Responses to “The holiday spirit comes to Faribault during Winterfest this week (end)”

  1. I love small town festivals and events like the ones you are writing about. Brevard is the KING of festivals. Seriously. They have so many downtown it is difficult keeping track of them but the big Christmas tree lighting and Christmas Twilight Tour is this weekend and all the merchants are gearing up for it. It is a great way to support downtown and get into the spirit all at the same time.

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    Oh my!! The Christmas activity marathon begins in earnest this coming weekend…for sure. It’s all about choices and, I’m afraid, most of the time I choose too many!! But….this seems to be the time of year for “excesses” and the shear number of parades, craft events, etc, will satisfy everyone’s desires.
    My fave photo (above) is the vintage pick-up. Am seeing them on fabrics, post cards, pictures, metal/plastic toys/decorations, etc….mostly colored red (which is the appropriate color by MY estimation!! LOL!). Yes, the Season is upon us and my little “workshop” is in full swing!

  3. Bernadette Says:

    I will miss these activities by one weekend, but I do hope to see the big oak tree filled with lights near 35W. Someone sent me a video and it looks spectacular. I agree with you – the decorated pickup truck is a delightful creation.

    • Oh, yes, you MUST see that oak along 35 between Faribault and Medford. It’s spectacular.

      On December 8, Shattuck St. Mary’s School in Faribault hosts its annual campus Christmas Walk. It starts with a free holiday ice show at noon followed by treats and activities for kids in the dining hall. The campus is festively decorated and carolers sing, musicians perform. If you’ve never been to Shattuck, you should visit. The history, the architecture, impress.

  4. This reminds of what we called the “trucker’s parade” where I lived in Oregon. HUGE log trucks with monster sized logs and various other trucks would line their trucks with lights. It was so much fun! Great piece, Audrey! ❤

  5. Bella Says:

    Indeed your town is filled with the holiday spirit. All these planned activities bring the community together. Your dedication to your community is evident in many of your postings. Being a bell ringer is such an important volunteer job and rewarding to provide a service to your community. . . .

  6. Valerie Says:

    This looks like a fun event. I hope the weather cooperates. We may try to see the parade.

  7. Jackie Says:

    This sounds so fun Audrey, I would love to attend the winterfest, it sounds so fun, and full of things to do. But… things are busy for us this week and what seems like every week. Our spare time is spent getting Rick’s Dad’s house ready to put on the market, and a birthday party on Saturday. I am so looking forward to some down time soon…. maybe next year! Have fun!

    • Oh, Jackie, we’d love to have you at Winterfest in Faribault. But I understand. You have lots happening. Readying a house for the market is a major undertaking. I hope it’s going well. Enjoy the birthday party on Saturday.

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