SMALL TOWN MINNESOTA. What is it about our rural communities that holds my heart? Surely, my upbringing on a crop and dairy farm in the southwestern region of our state influences how I feel about rural places.
But it’s more than that. I see in these communities, like Montgomery in Le Sueur County, a distinct character, a connection of people, an appreciation for the quieter life afforded to those who live in this ag-based area.
I’ve written about and photographed Montgomery many times. Each visit I notice the details that define this self-proclaimed Kolacky Capital of the World with its strong Czech heritage. Kolacky are a fruit-filled (sometimes poppyseed, too) Czech pastry, available at the century-plus-old Franke’s Bakery and elsewhere.
When I walk along First Street, the main street through the downtown business district, I always notice the historic buildings.
And the home-grown businesses, including multiple meat markets.
And, like many small towns, multiple bars. Montgomery also has a craft brewery, Montgomery Brewing.
But I also notice the signage that is distinctly Montgomery. Like the best place to buy Jell-O shots (the Monty Bar).
Or the lunch-time Sloppy Joe special at the Happy Hour Bar & Grill.
It is this type of signage that reveals much about a town and its people. When I spot the event space, Rustic Farmer on Main, and later sit there at a patio table to enjoy a custard-filled sweet treat from Franke’s, I think on that name. Rustic Farmer. It fits this rural community.
That center houses a small gift shop and heritage displays, including Kolacky Days celebration buttons. Photographer Sarah Dolejs designed a 513-piece jigsaw puzzle featuring a photo of a button collection. The puzzle is available in local businesses and online. Recently, organizers of this year’s virtual Kolacky Days held a “Jigsaw Puzzle Competition from Your Kitchen Table” to see who could assemble the puzzle the fastest. The winning time was 67 minutes by Team Sherman. They beat out Anything but Prune (a reference to prune kolacky) by a mere minute. The Poppyseed Posse (another reference to kolacky) and the Laughing Polka Ladies didn’t even come close to winning.
I love those creative names. They reveal a sense of humor, a sense of pride, a sense of appreciation for heritage and all that defines this town. This Montgomery, Minnesota.
Please check back as I continue my series of posts from Montgomery. Upcoming posts will feature the community’s redone mural and a downtown coffee shop.
© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling