Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Reconnecting at the flea market, farmers’ market & food fair May 18, 2021

The scene in the Rice County Historical Society parking lot Saturday morning as vendors sold wares at the spring flea market. The market extended behind the building and onto the fairgrounds with an estimated 75 sellers. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo.

MORE THAN A YEAR into the pandemic and we all needed this—an outdoor event to bring us together, to reclaim our collective sense of community, to reconnect with friends we haven’t seen in way too long.

One of my favorite discoveries at the flea market was the chicken art created by J & M Crafted Creations of Prior Lake. That would be wood artist Jim and painter Mary Jo. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo.
At the market, cheese from Shepherd’s Way Farms, rural Nerstrand. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo.
The Local Plate proved a popular dining option. The truck sources locally to create its menu offerings. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo.

The combo Rice County Historical Society’s Spring Flea Market, Cannon Valley Farmers’ Market and Fair Food Truck Days accomplished all of those objectives in one place, the Rice County Fairgrounds, on one day, Saturday.

Vendors spread across the museum grounds/fairgrounds, including outside the historic school and church. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo.
This dad’s smile says it all. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo.
The event drew a diverse crowd. People seemed happy just to be out. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo.

This event marked our re-entry into community life, now that Randy and I are fully vaccine-protected. It felt good, oh, so good, to experience a sense of normalcy again. And even though crowds were large and most attendees were unmasked, we felt comfortable given our vaccination status and the outdoor setting.

Among the flea market treasures, Pyrex. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo.
After photographing this yarn, I asked for a business card. Noting the name, Dresow Family Farm, I inquired. Turns out the husband half of this farm team hails from my home area and graduated from Wabasso High School, my alma mater. Even though I’ve never met Kevin “Silo” Dresow, we reminisced and even broke into the school song, “On Wabasso…” To meet a fellow Rabbit (our school mascot) made my day. I graduated with Silo’s brother Keith. Small world. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo.
Fair food aplenty… Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo.

For a May day in Minnesota, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Sunshine. Blue skies. Warmth. Absolutely ideal for outdoor vending of treasures, selling of locally-grown/raised/made goods and indulging in fair food.

Even this vendor’s dog looks happy. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo.
A pick-up bed of treasures. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo.
From First Draft Farms, what happy hues. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo.

What made this gathering unique, though, was the overwhelming feeling of optimism. I sensed it. Felt it. Experienced it. An undercurrent of joyfulness.

Parking was at a premium. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo.

I know events like this don’t happen without a lot of behind-the-scenes effort and hard work. So to all the volunteers, vendors, farmers and others who planned, showed up, set up, sold, engaged in conversation, welcomed us back to experience community, thank you. I needed this day. We needed this day. Saturday’s event reaffirmed for me just how much I value interacting with others. And just how much I’ve missed those connections.

Please check back for more photos from this event.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

14 Responses to “Reconnecting at the flea market, farmers’ market & food fair”

  1. OMG – love the camper turned into food truck – oh so cool! It makes me get the feels when I see people gathering again (breaking out of the bubble slowly). I love the wood art too – who cannot hang some Americana and then add in some roosters and chickens and if there is a pig one I am sold. Happy Exploring – Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

    • I didn’t notice any pig art. Lots of chickens, though. And, yes, that food truck is pretty incredible, including the food. It was a 15-minute wait to get our buffalo turkey bites and salad. But well worth it to eat local.

  2. This looks like so much fun! I know people are feeling so joyful to participate in anything that resembles our “normal” life!

  3. Wow, this is a large flea market! Does it happen weekly?

    • Jackie, the Rice County Historical Society’s flea markets occur twice a year. One in the spring and the other in the fall. This is the largest the market has ever been. I attribute that to the weather and to people wanting to be out and about after this past pandemic year. The addition of the farmers’ market and the food trucks made this an even better event.

  4. Valerie Says:

    Sounds like a fun place to be on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.And feeling almost back to “normal.”

  5. Norma Says:

    Love, love, love this!!!!

  6. Looks like a wonderful time. I think you found me some natural dyed yarn to purchase the next time I am home.😊


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