ON A JULY EVENING, as the descending sun shone along the tops of historic buildings in downtown Faribault, I paused to take in the scene before me.
Throngs of folks congregated around vehicles parked along Central Avenue during a monthly Friday Downtown Faribault Car Cruise Night.
Others visited in groups or stopped to purchase food from food trucks or from a downtown restaurant.
I felt the energy, the pulse of people moving, of togetherness. I observed the mingling of cultures, of ages. I sensed a spirit of community which comes in a gathering of people on a lovely summer evening in southern Minnesota. It felt good to be part of this scene.
I arrived close to 8 pm, nearing the end of an event which began hours earlier with a car cruise around area lakes. Yet, I still found plenty of cars, trucks and motorcycles to appreciate. Some old, others new.
My approach to Car Cruise Night is not defined by my interest in cars. Rather, it’s defined by art, by my photographic perspective. By my creativity.
I focus on details. Dice. Hood ornaments. Stickers. The gleam of wax-shined chrome. A Smurf. A patchwork quilt covering a truck seat. So much to take in.
I appreciate, too, the colors. Some bold. Others as dreamy as a Dreamsicle.
And then my eyes shift to the setting. Central Avenue, lined with aged buildings of extraordinary architecture, creates an historic feel, adding to the experience of Car Cruise Night. As I watched an open air vintage car head north along the avenue, it was easy to imagine bygone years.
At street level, I see long-time businesses like the Signature Bar & Grill and Burkhartzmeyer Shoes and many new businesses like Good Day Coffee, El Jefe, Cardboard Vault and more, including the many shops opened by immigrants who now call Faribault home. Today’s diversity of ownership reminds me of yesteryear, when immigrants settled here, opened shoe and furniture factories, brewed beer, ran general stores, set up barber chairs and much more in a town settling and growing.
Faribault remains a place of settlement and growth. And a place where, on a Friday evening, I glimpse history in buildings and vehicles. I see, too, the essence of community in this cohesive coming together on a lovely summer evening in July.
FYI: Faribault’s next car show is scheduled for 6-9 PM Friday, August 12, during the Blue Collar BBQ Festival at Teepee Tonka Park on the east side along the Straight River.
Please check back for more photos from the July 15 Car Cruise Night I attended in historic downtown Faribault.
© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling