Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The art of the holiday season in downtown Faribault December 11, 2019

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The Holly Days Sale at the Paradise Center for the Arts features a wide variety of handcrafted art like this glass Christmas tree.

 

WHENEVER I SHOP a holiday boutique, a craft fair, a farmers’ market, a local pop-up, a gallery, I’m impressed by the work of creatives. What talent.

 

A sandwich board outside the Paradise promotes two events there last Saturday.

 

I can relate. I understand their passion for the creative process. When I create with images and words, I become fully-engaged in crafting my art. I love what I do.

 

The Winter Wonderland Group Show currently graces a gallery at the Paradise Center for the Arts.

 

Can you imagine this world without art? I can’t. Not personally or otherwise.

 

A streetscape along Central Avenue shows the restored marquee at the historic Paradise and festive holiday decorations.

 

Sakatah Carvers sculpted this Rudolph ice art during last week’s Winterfest.

 

This mural based on an historic photo of skating on the Straight River hangs on the side of 10,000 Drops Distillery housed in an historic building just off Central Avenue in Faribault.

 

We are blessed here in Faribault to have a thriving arts community and a community which embraces these artists—whether knitters, sculptors, photographers, performers, even those farmers’ market vendors who craft homemade jams and sweet treats. They, too, are artists.

 

The artsy sign promoting a holiday market at 10,000 Drops and Corks & Pints last Saturday.

 

Last Saturday during Faribault’s Winterfest, I perused several creative-focused events with artists vending their wares. Pottery. Jewelry. Paintings. Photographs. Food. And much more.

 

Entrepreneurs Elizabeth and Sophie vending their slime.

 

I met two young sisters from New Prague, Elizabeth and Sophie, selling slime under their brand, Slimey.Unicorns. They’re an ambitious pair who attended a slime convention in Chicago before launching their line earlier this year and selling at farmers’ and other markets. They seem market-savvy with names like You’re a Minty One Mr. Grinch and Egg Nog tagged to mini pots of their homemade slime. I told them I expected to see them on “Shark Tank” some day pitching their product. They looked at me with blank looks.

 

The sisters’ slime.

 

No matter, I congratulated them on their success—the sisters made several sales while I waited to talk to them—and then moved on to view the works of other creatives.

 

This art marks a pop-up shop along Faribault’s Central Avenue.

 

I didn’t purchase anything while on my creative tour in historic downtown Faribault. But plenty of others did, supporting those who are passionate about art. Like me.

FYI: Vendors from the Faribault Winter Farmers’ Market will sell at their final market of 2019 from 1 – 4 p.m. Saturday, December 21, at the Keepsake Cidery Solstice Market in rural Dundas.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Celebrating winter, Minnesota style with vintage snowmobiles December 10, 2019

Snowmobiles parked along Central Avenue during the Faribo Sno-Go Club Vintage Snowmobile Show.

 

DECADES AGO, MY COUSIN Kevin roared across the field on his snowmobile with me seated behind, the cold rush of wind stinging my cheeks. About the same time period, my oldest brother also offered me a snowmobile ride, then abandoned me in the gravel pit on our farm. Not the nicest thing to do. But brothers, when they are teens, aren’t always kind to sisters.

 

Mrs. Minnesota United States Courtney Maxwell-Shey of St. Peter (and originally from Faribault, she said) poses next to a trail groomer.

 

Those are my limited snowmobile memories. I’ve never felt the urge since to ask for a snowmobile ride, not that I know anyone with a snow-traversing machine. But plenty of Minnesotans still snowmobile, often in groups, traveling along groomed trails and road ditches and across frozen lakes.

 

Chatting and checking out the snowmobiles.

 

I expect there’s a certain exhilaration in defying winter weather by embracing it. There’s a certain exhilaration, too, in racing across the snow, the power of a machine roaring beneath you. With the high-tech clothing on the market today, the experience is certainly much warmer than 40-plus years ago.

 

Warming up around the fire in low 30-degree temps and a brisk wind, next to the food and beverage tent.

 

This past Saturday, the Faribo Sno-Go Club, established in 1967, hosted a Vintage Snowmobile Show as part of Faribault’s Winterfest. Randy and I arrived well into the event to find only a minimal number of machines displayed, a bit of a disappointment. Still, we appreciated the effort. And I appreciated the trip back down memory lane.

 

Christmas ornaments add a dash of holiday flair to a snowmobile trail groomer.

 

TELL ME: Have you ever ridden on a snowmobile? If yes, I’d like to hear your memorable story.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

A community Christmas welcome at Shattuck-St. Mary’s December 9, 2019

 

THEY WAITED IN LINE to see Santa.

 

 

The kids.

 

 

The moms with new babies. For photos and conversations.

 

 

What a joy to stand aside and witness those magical moments Saturday afternoon at Shattuck-St. Mary’s during the private prep school’s annual Campus Christmas Walk. Each December I head to Faribault’s east side to take in this event which begins with a holiday figure skating show.

 

Families packed the crafting space set up in a new addition at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School on Saturday.

 

Family-oriented activities followed. Crafts and cookie decorating and all those Santa visits.

 

Musicians performed in the historic dining hall where guests also enjoyed cookies (including decorating of) and beverages.

 

And beautiful holiday music performed by students.

 

Holding the horses while riders board the wagon.

 

 

Off for a ride around campus.

 

And, outside Shumway Hall, horse-drawn wagon rides that circled guests around this historic campus.

 

Walking into a new addition at Shattuck, Randy noticed these words imprinted on the building: “It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well.”

 

What a gift this event is to all of us. Thank you, Shattuck-St. Mary’s School, for opening your campus and connecting with the greater Faribault community, for building Christmas memories. I am grateful.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Faribault celebrates winter & the holidays in a big way this weekend December 6, 2019

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A city of Faribault snowplow decked out in holiday lights for a past Winterfest parade. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAY SEASON and all things winter this weekend during the third annual Winterfest in my southeastern Minnesota community. Unlike last year, when a snowstorm resulted in a postponed Parade of Lights, the weather looks to be ideal for the event, already in to its second day.

I missed Thursday’s kick-off. The granddaughter’s angelic debut in her preschool Christmas program took precedence. But plenty of Winterfest activities continue today through Saturday.

 

The dining room set for the holidays during the Alexander Faribault House Christmas open house. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2017.

 

Today the Alexander Faribault House, historic home of our town founder, opens to showcase a French-Canadian Christmas from 4 – 7 p.m. and then again on Saturday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. And, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, “Peter Pan” opens at the Paradise Center for the Arts for a weekend run that also continues into next week.

 

Skaters from a past holiday ice show at Shattuck. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Saturday brings a day packed with events appealing to a broad range of ages and interests. Shattuck-St. Mary’s School on Faribault’s east side hosts its annual Campus Christmas Walk beginning with a figure skating holiday ice show at noon. Family-geared activities follow at the historic upper campus from 1 – 3 p.m. with cookies and crafts, visits with Santa and horse-drawn sleigh rides.

 

Musicians perform at a previous Faribault Winter Farmers’ Market. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

 

Meanwhile in our historic downtown, the Faribault Winter Farmers’ Market runs from 1 – 4 p.m. at the Paradise Center for the Arts. At the same time, the Faribault Sno Go Club hosts a Vintage Snowmobile Show along Central Avenue.

 

Artisan gifts like this Christmas ornament are available for purchase at Fleur de Lis Gallery along Central Avenue. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

A block off Central, 10,000 Drops Distillery opens its space to 40-plus local craft vendors for the annual Holiday Craft Market. The downtown business district offers plenty of other home-grown shopping options.

 

A previous Winterfest ice sculpture. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

While you’re exploring, be sure to check out the ice sculpture by Sakatah Carvers located at the corner of Minnesota State Highway 60/Fourth Street and Central Avenue.

 

Fireworks from a previous Winterfest. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Capping the three days of Winterfest are fireworks at 5:30 p.m. (launched from the American Legion) followed by the Holiday Parade of Lights at about 5:45 p.m. Just a note that taller buildings along Central Avenue can block the view of fireworks. A street dance from 6:30 – 10 p.m. ends Winterfest. Organizers promise heaters spaced around the area to keep dancers warm.

So there you go. Lots to do this weekend in my southeastern Minnesota community.

TELL ME: How are you embracing the holiday season this weekend?

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Thoughts in the light of recent news headlines December 4, 2019

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Artwork created by Gracie for a student art show at the Paradise Center for the Arts, Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots edited file photo March 2018.

 

LIFE CAN BE TOUGH sometimes, really tough.

Five dead in a Minneapolis high-rise fire last week.

Four dead, including two young brothers and their mother, in an act of domestic violence in south Minneapolis just days ago.

Nine killed in an airplane crash in South Dakota.

The headlines and media reports can overwhelm.

Yesterday, a 16-year-old boy was taken into custody in my community after reportedly sending threatening texts to two students that he was “thinking about shooting up the school.” Faribault High School. A similar, but worse, scenario played out in violence in two eastern Wisconsin schools in recent days.

I wish the world was free of meanness, violence, hatred and tragedies. But it isn’t and never will be. Yet we have the power within our homes, our neighborhoods, our communities, our circle of family and friends, yes, within our hearts to individually treat others with kindness, compassion, empathy and respect. And that is a start.

THOUGHTS?

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Mixed message December 3, 2019

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AS A WORDSMITH, I’m especially drawn to signage, including this one spotted Sunday afternoon along Division Street in downtown Northfield.

I laughed given the falling snow, the snow banked on the front of the pick-up truck parked curbside and the mixed message sent.

Cacti are not warm and fuzzy, although the environment in which they grow is warm, even hot. I suppose that was the idea—to get us Minnesotans thinking about warmer places like Little Joy Coffee with its hot brew.

While the words and art seem especially mismatched to me, I noticed, photographed and remembered them. Thus, marketing accomplished.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Post Thanksgiving gratitude December 2, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 11:13 AM
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HOW WAS YOUR THANKSGIVING?

The question has been repeated to me many times in past days. My response? It was wonderful. Wonderful to have all three of my adult children here for the first Thanksgiving in probably 10 years. My mama’s heart overflowed with joy.

Simply being together made me happy. We talked and laughed as we gathered around a table enjoying an abundant and delicious meal. I especially appreciate that my girls prepare and bring foods, thus easing the workload of hosting.

 

The scene in historic downtown Faribault on Thanksgiving weekend. A pre-Thanksgiving storm dropped about eight inches of snow here.

 

After dinner, everyone (except me and almost 11-month-old Isaac) bundled into winter gear and headed up the street to slide down the hill at Wapacuta Park. It’s the same place my kids went sledding while growing up. I’m happy to see the winter tradition continue now with the next generation. If you’re going to live in Minnesota, you may as well get outside and enjoy the snow. (Remind me in a month or two that I wrote this.) Family reported back that my 3 ½-year-old granddaughter, Isabelle, loved sliding—her first time out.

 

I set out an assortment of colorful chalk.

 

With that tradition continuing, I also attempted to start a new one, with minimal success. I pulled a vintage chalkboard from a closet and asked everyone to add things for which they were thankful. Not everyone did. I initiated the list and took a bit of ribbing for writing texting. I explained that, because texting is the primary way we communicate when apart, I am grateful for this technology.

 

The gratitude list…

 

I loved my granddaughter’s additions, vocalized to my eldest daughter, who chalked them onto the board. My dolly, Grandma and Grandpa, Mommy, Ms. C…

But it was my second daughter who later came up with the singular word that made me laugh aloud. CHEESE. What can I say? She lives in Wisconsin.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling