Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Celebrating Faribault’s brewing history with Fleck’s Travaganza! August 19, 2022

The event promotional created by Jeff Jarvis of West Cedar Studio.

MY COMMUNITY WILL CELEBRATE a rich history of brewing this weekend at the Fleck’s Travaganza!, an event honoring Fleckenstein Brewery. The brewery, opened in 1856 and producing assorted beverages for 108 years (until 1964) in two locations along the Straight River bluffs in Faribault, has long garnered local interest.

A historical themed bench outside the RCHS summarizes the Fleckenstein family’s brewery history in Faribault. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

Cheers to Fleck’s beer. This photo is featured on a bench outside the RCHS. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

Even more history on a bench by the RCHS. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

The Rice County Historical Society (RCHS) features the brewery in its museum. Local historian Brian Schmidt collects Fleckenstein items and memorabilia. And the State Bank of Faribault displays a sizable collection of brewery items.

The 1946 Fleck’s delivery truck, pre-restoration, in the July 2016 Faribault Car Cruise Night. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo 2016)

But this weekend all eyes will focus on a restored 1946 Fleckenstein Brewery delivery truck. That truck will lead a parade of vehicles through Faribault (click on link for the route) beginning at 5:30 pm Friday at the RCHS. The parade follows major routes through town, including past my house on Willow Street, and ends along Central Avenue for the Faribault Car Cruise Night.

A building in Faribault’s downtown historic district bears the Fleckenstein name. I took this photo, featured several years ago on the cover of the Faribault tourism magazine, during the July 2016 Car Cruise Night. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo)

The beer delivery truck will also be parked along Central Avenue on Sunday morning during an invitation only RCHS event for volunteers.

A downtown Faribault mural featuring Fleck’s beer. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo)

The bank exhibit will be open Friday evening during the Car Cruise in the heart of historic downtown Faribault and also from 9 am – noon Saturday. Just across the street from the bank, a mural features the brewery.

This shows a section of the park, which includes a playground, picnic area and shelter and a river overlook. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo May 2022)

Saturday brings more events with the 10 am dedication of Fleckenstein Bluffs Park along the Straight River in downtown Faribault.

Faribault artist Rhody Yule created this oil painting of the Fleckenstein Brewery in 1976. The building, and the brewery, no longer exist. The 20-foot Fleck’s beer bottle on the right side of the painting sat near the brewery entrance. Children often had their pictures taken here when their parents took a brewery tour. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo January 2011)

At 1 pm, “Fleckenstein Brewery, a History” will be presented by collector and historian Schmidt at the RCHS. Special guest is Al Fleckenstein. Following that, at 3 pm, Schmidt leads a tour of the Fleckenstein Brewery ruins site on the campus of Shattuck-St. Mary’s School. Attendance is limited to 50 for the packaged, ticketed events with reservations via the RCHS highly-recommended. Cost for both is $20.

Stacked inside the RCHS Harvest and Heritage Halls are these crates from Fleckenstein Brewing. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2015)

If you want to take home a bit of memorabilia, a commemorative bottle of grape pop is available for $5. Specially-made by Spring Grove Beverages in southeastern Minnesota, the soda comes with an original Fleck’s grape pop cap attached. Proceeds from the soda sales benefit the historical society.

I found this Fleck’s beer bottle at LB Antiques in Jordan in February 2017. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo)

Now, the only thing missing—and this comes from someone who appreciates and enjoys craft beers—is Faribault-brewed craft beer. Perhaps some day…

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

16 Responses to “Celebrating Faribault’s brewing history with Fleck’s Travaganza!”

  1. beth Says:

    what a fun history and celebration! only a matter of time before fairbault has its own brew –

  2. I love to keep up on the craft beer scene and MN is gaining – there is a lot of brewery history in MN. The small community I live in I think is up to 8 or 9 craft breweries now and the next few communities north of us have about another 5 to 7. Cheers! – Happy Weekend – Enjoy 🙂

  3. Valerie Says:

    Sounds like an interesting weekend ahead.
    Will they walk out to the Fleckenstein site? The bike club did that last fall.

  4. Sandra Says:

    How fun is THIS?!! Are the 4 men pictured on the bench sons of the original 4? What a great drive route, east side of town has so much to offer. Eventually that river and those bluffs will provide more than the occasional flood. I still wonder about how utilities were provided to the bluff locations. Boots Fleckenstein was such a colorful character. The Heritage Commission video about the family is well done. Fun post!

  5. This looks like a fun weekend with a lot of great history behind it. I am not a beer lover but I can appreciate the history and heritage that will be on display. What a great thing for the community. Enjoy.

    • Unfortunately the Car Cruise was rained out this evening, although the Fleck’s beer truck and a few other vintage vehicles still did the cruise past our house. But not what we were hoping. That said, we are thankful for the much-needed rain.

  6. COLLEEN HONDL GENGLER Says:

    Fleck’s beer sounds so familiar! I think my dad drank it back in the 50’s and early 60’s. It’s interesting to read about the history and connection to Faribault. It is surprising that a city of that size doesn’t have a brewery. It’s too bad the earlier one closed. Hopefully, an opportunity will arise and someone will see the potential.

    • How interesting that you remember your dad drinking Fleck’s. For my dad, it was Schells out of New Ulm.

      It would be nice to have a brewery back in Faribault. But we do have 10,000 Drops Distillery, housed in an historic building and serving up good drinks. The distillery shares a connected building and patio with Corks & Pints, where F-Town Brewery was located.

  7. Judith Rowe Says:

    Audrey, I love your enthusiasm for local history, and for beer.! I like how nowadays, many small breweries are springing up, in your country and mine. I do miss the horse drawn drays though. They were used until the 90s in London, but only a handful of breweries keep them going now. That vintage truck is interesting too. Hope the rain won’t spoil the rest of your weekend.

    • Horse-drawn drays at breweries would certainly add to their appeal. Thanks for sharing that info.

      The weather here today as been mostly cloudy, opening to the occasional sun shine. Faribault is also hosting a state baseball tournament this weekend, so “good” weather would be welcome.


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