Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The creative side of a southern Minnesota farm show September 5, 2022

The Milk Shakes booth has a decidedly rural theme with Holstein cow art. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

AS A WRITER AND PHOTOGRAPHER, I view life through a creative lens. That means, even at a farm-themed event like the Rice County Steam and Gas Engines Show, I notice the artsy side.

Dancing in the music shed to the band Steam Machine Friday afternoon. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

I attended the show in rural Dundas on Friday. While most attendees focus on the field of tractors, the multiple ag-related demonstrations, the flea market and more, I also focus on creative details within the all of it. Like hand-lettered signage, handcrafted items, music, and, yes, even the couple dancing to bluegrass tunes performed by Steam Machine.

Flea market attendees try out a vendor’s yard chairs. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

The arts, whether literary, visual or performing, enhance our lives, bringing joy, comfort, diversion, entertainment, introspection and much more.

Cute crocheted animals by Kay Dudley. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

I value the talents of those who create. I create with words and with my camera. Put a paintbrush or crochet hook in my hand and I would be hard-pressed to make anything worthy of notice. But, gosh, do I admire creatives like Kay Dudley of Faribault who brought her crocheted animals to the flea market. Likewise, I admire the skill of the woodworker who built the sturdy yard chairs for sale.

Hand-embroidered linens. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

On the other end of the show grounds, I found more to appreciate in the 1912 farmhouse. Embroidered linens displayed in the kitchen caught my eye. I know how to embroider, although decades have passed since I picked up a needle, embroidery floss and a hoop to stitch a design into cloth. I really ought to resume that craft.

A vintage doll nestles in a quilt. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

In another room of the farmhouse, a doll laid upon a quilt, reminding me of my paternal grandmother who stitched endless quilts for her family, me included. I was quite the seamstress as a teen, sewing many of my clothes and dresses for Grandma, too. She could quilt, but she couldn’t make her own clothes. I always found that interesting. I haven’t touched my sewing machine in years.

An original painting of a country schoolhouse. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

I was especially interested in the original painting of a rural schoolhouse scene propped on a table in the farmhouse. The vintage art, scored at a Goodwill store for $5, is exactly the type of art I collect.

David Terry hand-carved a 1920 threshing scene displayed inside a large case in the music building. This is just a portion of his work. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

In my collection is a North Dakota threshing scene painted by my father-in-law and among my most treasured pieces of original art. So when I saw a hand-carved threshing scene displayed in the music building at the Rice County Steam and Gas Engines Show, I was reminded of Tom’s painting. I display it this time of year atop the entertainment center in my living room.

A handmade sign identifies the owner of a vintage John Deere tractor. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

Original paintings and other original art, including signs, always draw my appreciation. There’s just something about a handcrafted sign that makes me pause, take notice, remember. From signage on tractors to signage on buildings to signage among the food vendors, I noticed the creativity.

Loved this hand-drawn art posted by the food service window of El Tacazo Mexican Delights. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

Every piece of art I spotted added to my enjoyment of this southern Minnesota farm-themed show. Certainly I value the ag and history aspects of this event. But I value, too, the creativity.

An anvil-shaped sign fittingly marks the Blacksmith Shop where attendees can watch blacksmiths at work. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

FYI: Click here to read my first general overall post on the 2022 Rice County Steam and Gas Engines Show. And click here to read my second post highlighting tractors.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling