Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A photographer’s perspective on Faribault Car Cruise Night August 19, 2014

Two of the numerous vehicles parked in downtown Faribault Friday evening for the last Car Cruise Night of the season.

Two of the vehicles parked in downtown Faribault Friday evening for the last Car Cruise Night of the season.

AFTER ATTENDING NUMEROUS CAR SHOWS in recent years, including two back-to-back this past weekend, I sometimes wonder how I can possibly find anything new to photograph.

But I do.

I set my camera on the pavement for this low down perspective shot.

I set my camera on the pavement for this low down perspective shot.

Hanging out at Faribault Car Cruise Night.

Hanging out at Faribault Car Cruise Night.

Hood ornaments always draw my attention.

Hood ornaments always draw my attention.

It takes determination to seek out the details, the interesting perspectives, the light, the people and more. It helps to have an automotive machinist husband who knows cars inside and out.

Plenty of old vehicle lined a block of Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault.

Plenty of old vehicles lined a block of Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault.

I’ll never care about old cars quite like Randy, still yearning for the ’64 Chevy he drove decades ago as a young man. I’d love for my husband to own one again. But with other more pressing needs, a vintage vehicle remains on the dream list.

The "license plate" caught my eye.

The “license plate” and front of this Plymouth caught my eye.

Proud to be a Green Bay Packers fan.

Proud to be a Green Bay Packers fan.

The proud Packers fan who bought this car already painted green. Perfect for this Minnesotan with a daughter living in Milwaukee and encouraging her dad's Packers mania.

The proud Packers fan bought this car already painted green. Perfect for this Minnesotan with a daughter living in Milwaukee who encourages her dad’s Packers mania.

And so my spouse and I meander among the old-time vehicles, me with camera in hand examining details like hood ornaments and interiors and the shine of bumpers.

Lots of looking under the hood opportunities.

Lots of looking under the hood opportunities.

Randy noticed, and pointed out to me, the original car order from 1967 for a Satellite still owned by the original owner.

Randy noticed, and pointed out to me, the original car order from 1967 for a Satellite still owned by the original owner.

And then I noticed the mini Satellite in the back window.

And then I noticed the mini Satellite in the back window.

He’s more interested in what’s under the hood and whether everything is original.

See that metal rod sticking out behind the tire. I would have totally missed it except for my husband pointing out the wheel scraper that keeps the tire from hitting the curb.

See that metal rod sticking out behind the tire. I would have totally missed it except for my husband pointing out the curb scraper that keeps the tire from hitting the curb.

Remember how common these Phillips 76 balls once were on car antennas?

Remember how common these Phillips 76 balls once were on car antennas?

It’s a great system because he shows and shares information about vintage vehicles that I would not even consider or notice.

An absolutely beautiful work of art, in my opinion.

An absolutely beautiful work of art, in my opinion.

And maybe, just maybe, he has developed an appreciation for my artistic perspective.

A classic Ford Falcon.

A classic Ford Falcon.

HOW ABOUT YOU? What interests you in vintage vehicles?

Craig attracted plenty of attention when he flipped on the lights and sirens on his vintage ambulance.

Craig attracted plenty of attention when he flipped the lights and sirens on his vintage ambulance when leaving Faribault Car Cruise Night along Central Avenue.

What do you notice?

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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Appreciating the historic setting of Faribault’s Car Cruise Night July 21, 2016

the historic

Buildings on the National Register of Historic Places provide the backdrop for vintage vehicles during Faribault’s Car Cruise Night on July 15.

SO MUCH ABOUT FARIBAULT DOWNTOWN Car Cruise Nights appeals to me. Certainly the vehicles draw my interest from an artistic, photographic and historical perspective. The opportunity, too, to mingle and visit also appeals to me.

The University of Minnesota Gopher Motorsports team brought their global Formula SAE series race car to cruise night .

The University of Minnesota Gopher Motorsports team brought its global Formula SAE series race car to cruise night and parked it in the 300 block of Central Avenue’s historic district.

But one other aspect imprints upon me every single time I attend this monthly summer event. That’s the historic setting. Aged buildings in the 5 x 2 1/2 block Faribault Commercial Historic District provide a lovely backdrop to the many vintage vehicles that roll onto Central Avenue.

Lovely old buildings in the 300 block house places like a cheese shop and a cakery.

Lovely old buildings in the 300 block house places like a cheese shop and a cakery. My eldest daughter’s wedding reception was held several years ago in The Loft, a second floor event rental space in the Bachrach Building (with the arched windows).

As a photographer, I am always cognizant of light and background, of angle and perspective, of composition and subject. Thus, I notice the primarily brick buildings that rise stories above the street, casting deep shadows as dusk settles.

I appreciate the faded lettering on the former Security Bank building.

Details on buildings along the west side of the 300 block of Central Avenue.

Sometimes I just stand in the middle of Central and look upward toward the arched windows, the ornate roof lines, the fading letters that mark long ago businesses and wonder about yesteryear. I think about the tailors and harnessmakers, the shoemakers, the purveyors of dry goods, books and stationery…

Historic buildings reflected in a polished vehicle at Car Cruise Night.

Historic buildings reflected in a polished vehicle at Car Cruise Night.

I am grateful that my community had the foresight to preserve these stalwart buildings of the 1870s and 1880s rather than tear them down. I am grateful for the existence of the Faribault Heritage Preservation Commission. I appreciate my downtown.

A 1959 Edsel Village Wagon is parked in front of the Paradise Center for the Arts with its restored marquee.

A 1959 Edsel Village Wagon is parked in front of the Paradise Center for the Arts with its recreated marquee.

Faribault is uniquely geographically positioned off Interstate 35 within an hour of the Twin Cities metro to draw visitors. Minnesota State Highway 60 also passes right through the heart of town. I’m sensing that more people are finally discovering this place I’ve called home for some 30 years. Newer businesses like a cheese shop, brewery and cakerya thriving arts center; and more are bringing people into our historic downtown.

This emblem tops a trophy to be awarded August 19 at the Car Club Show Down.

This emblem tops a homemade over-sized trophy to be awarded August 19 at the Car Club Show Down.

I’d like to see, though, a shift in local attitudes. While many residents appreciate and value downtown Faribault, we need to grow more local pride. Events like Car Cruise Night and the upcoming Blue Collar BBQ & Arts Festival (on August 13) get residents involved and foster a sense of community.

pawn

The building behind the cars (230 Central) is listed on documents as the Masonic Building, built in 1875. Pawn Minnesota once housed Poirier Drug Store. In 1993, Warner Brothers filmed a scene in the drug store for the movie Grumpy Old Men starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon.

As someone who grew up 120 miles away to the west in a small town founded nearly 50 years after Faribault, I deeply appreciate Faribault’s historic downtown. My hometown of Vesta is devoid of old buildings, the one-block Main Street now mostly vacant lots. Faribault has dozens of places throughout the community on the National Register of Historic Places, including the 200 block of Central Avenue. Those historic buildings are an enviable asset.

Collector vehicles pop color and history into the

Collector vehicles pop color and history into Faribault’s downtown.

When I attend events like Car Cruise Night, I take notice of my surroundings. Not just the collector vehicles. But the historic setting that showcases them. And I realize how valuable this downtown is to this city.

BONUS PHOTOS:

The Drag-On's Car Club brings together local car enthusiasts.

The Faribault Drag-On’s Car Club, established in 1987, brings together local car enthusiasts. This sign was posted inside a vehicle at Car Cruise Night.

Pride reflected in the polished

Pride reflected in the polished finish of car and hood ornament.

This unique vehicle drew lots of interest at the July 15 Car Cruise Night.

This unique vehicle, parked in front of the Paradise Center for the Arts, drew lots of interest at the July 15 Car Cruise Night.

The sleek lines of a jetliner hood ornament drew my artistic attention.

The sleek lines of a jetliner hood ornament drew my artistic attention.

A multitude of messages in a vehicle window caused me to pause.

A multitude of messages in a vehicle window caused me to pause.

The Dodge Super Bee with the bee theme going on drew my interest.

The Dodge Super Bee with the bee theme going on drew my interest. This was parked in the 200 block of Faribault’s historic downtown Central Avenue.

Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Nights draw all ages and some dogs, too. I'd like to see some family-oriented events added, perhaps a scavenger hunt that focuses on the historic building exteriors.

Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Nights draw all ages and some dogs, too. I’d like to see family-oriented events added, perhaps a scavenger hunt that focuses on the historic buildings.

Some buildings in the historic commercial district

Some buildings in the historic commercial district have not yet been fully restored.

While photographing vehicles, I noticed the truck reflection in the storefront window of a hair salon.

While photographing vehicles, I noticed the truck reflection in the storefront window of a hair salon with this simple artsy display.

FYI: This concludes my three-part series on the July 15 Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night. Click here to see my first post and here to read my second in this series.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

For your entertainment: Two perspectives on Faribault’s Car Cruise Night July 24, 2012

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A Ford Model A drives into downtown Faribault on Central Avenue during the July 20 Faribault Car Cruise Night.

I NEVER THOUGHT I would find old cars and trucks interesting. Not in a million years.

But I’ve acquired, in recent years, an appreciation for the vehicles of yesterday displayed at local car shows. I credit my smart and talented automotive machinist husband, who is like a walking Wikipedia when it comes to knowledge of vehicles, for my interest. Randy finally convinced me to tag along once to a car show and that was it.

HIS VIEW: Not my color, not at all.  MY VIEW: The graceful curves of a swan hood ornament draw my eye to this street rod.

Our reasons, though, for appreciating these cars and trucks of the past differ. He’ll peer under the open hoods and such while I’m admiring hood ornaments and emblems, the curve and sweep of metal, paint colors and more.

HIS VIEW: Lotta teeth there.  MY VIEW: Can you see my reflections in the shiny, curvy bumper art on this car?

My interest springs from an artistic and photographic perspective. His is more mechanical and practical.

And as a bonus, if I overhear or discover a story or two at these shows, I value the displayed vehicles even more. Watch in upcoming days for several interesting stories from the July 20 Faribault Car Cruise Night. It was quite a night for stories, as you will read. Until then, enjoy these photos.

HIS VIEW: Let’s buy one, but not a yellow one.

MY VIEW: Look how the setting sun glints across the hood as I photograph those magnificent, detailed wheels.

HIS VIEW: That would be a nice old pickup to own.  MY VIEW: Loving the stylish sweep of the front end.

HIS VIEW: Why are you photographing that taillight?  MY VIEW: Just look at those shimmering reds, the honeycomb effect and that royal art.

HIS VIEW: A good cruisin’ car.  MY VIEW: It’s the stripes, the stripes, oh, yes, the stripes that lead my eye across the trunk and beyond.

HIS VIEW: I’d love to own that 1930s vintage Chevy truck.  MY VIEW: I know you would, dear. It is pretty sweet.

HIS VIEW: I didn’t know grasshoppers grew that big.  MY VIEW:  Thanks for making me laugh and bringing back memories, for me at least, of all those grasshoppers on the farm when I was growing up.

HIS VIEW: That’s the inside of a 1967 Chevy Impala Super Sport.  MY VIEW: Look at all those circles, circles, circles.

HIS VIEW: A good looking Pontiac Firebird.  MY VIEW: Art.

HIS VIEW: Insert key here.  MY VIEW: I’ve never noticed a rocket emblem before on a car (Oldsmobile Ninety Eight).

HIS VIEW: Check out the motor.  MY VIEW: One sweet Chevy.

HIS VIEW: Just the front of a Buick.  MY VIEW: Vertical lines on the front of the car and the building behind create a pattern.

MY VIEW and maybe HIS VIEW, too: Nice curves.

MY VIEW: A fancy, schmancy MG with a royal air. HIS VIEW: I never cared too much for British cars.

OUR VIEW: Lost in the 50s, 60s, 70s…on a Friday evening in downtown Faribault.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Second restored carnival car debuts in Faribault, birthplace of the Tilt-A-Whirl July 12, 2017

Signage and seating inside a restored Tilt-A-Whirl car installed in downtown Faribault in June 2015. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.

 

SEVERAL BLOCKS FROM MY FARIBAULT home, laborers once built the iconic Tilt-A-Whirl and lesser-known amusement rides. Occasionally I spotted oversized bears, dragons and other animal-themed spin rides aboard flatbed trailers exiting the Frog Town neighborhood, location of Sellner Manufacturing.

 

The Dizzy Dragon was once also made in Faribault. This ride and other versions of it are now built by Larson International, Inc. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

There Herbert Sellner, inventor of the Tilt-A-Whirl, opened his manufacturing company. From 1926 until its sale to a Texas company in 2011, the business made carnival rides.

 

The 1950s Tilt-A-Whirl car faces north toward Central Avenue. Here’s the beautiful back. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.

 

Often I wondered why Faribault didn’t promote the Tilt-A-Whirl. Next to the merry-go-round and the Ferris wheel, it’s likely the most recognized amusement ride spanning generations. The American made ride seemed a natural tourist draw to me. Today, thanks to the efforts of local businesswomen Tami Schluter (of the Historic Hutchinson House B & B) and Peggy Keilen (of Faribo Air Conditioning & Heating), there’s an increased awareness of the Tilt-A-Whirl’s origins in my southeastern Minnesota community.

 

A restored 1950s vintage Tilt-A-Whirl has been permanently installed by Burkhartzmeyer Shoes in historic downtown Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.

 

In August 2014, the pair unveiled a 1950s Tilt-A-Whirl prototype car restored by Rick’s Restoration of Las Vegas and placed next to Burkhartzmeyer Shoes in the heart of historic downtown Faribault.

 

The second car, before restoration. Photo courtesy of Tami Schluter.

 

On Thursday, the two will celebrate the refurbishing of another Tilt-A-Whirl car donated by local Harley’s Auto Salvage.

 

The restored car in place by the State Bank. Photo courtesy of Tami Schluter.

 

Dedication of that car will take place at noon in front of the State Bank of Faribault, 428 Central Avenue North.

 

Under Dwight Henning’s hands, a work in progress. Photo courtesy of Tami Schluter.

 

The reconstructed and primed car. Photo courtesy of Tami Schluter.

 

Nearly complete. Photo courtesy of Tami Schluter.

 

Unlike the first car, this car has been restored by former Sellner employees, Dwight Henning of Henning Fiberglass and Karen Bussert of Design Specialties. That involvement of a local craftsman and artist strengthens community pride and ownership, always a bonus with any project.

 

The first restored Tilt-A-Whirl car sits in downtown Faribault, outside a third-generation family shoe store. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.

 

There are already hints of a third Tilt-A-Whirl restoration project. The first restored car has proven a photo op tourist attraction down at the shoe store. I expect the car by the bank to also draw attention, probably more, though, from locals than visitors. This car is not restored to vintage, but rather painted/decorated in green, white and gold, the State Bank’s colors. Green and white are also the public school colors of the Faribault Falcons.

 

Historic info featured on the “table” of the latest restored Tilt-A-Whirl car. Photo courtesy of Tami Schluter.

 

Schluter and Keilen have worked tirelessly to bring these Tilt-A-Whirl cars to downtown Faribault. They’ve also gotten significant financial support and community backing. Still, it takes someone to initiate.

 

Karen Bussert creates Tilt-A-Whirl themed t-shirts like this one worn by Faribault native Janet Timmers at a Car Cruise Night. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

I see additional potential here to expand upon what these two have started. For now I envision a seasonal pop-up mini museum showcasing the Tilt-A-Whirl in an empty downtown storefront and/or perhaps a kiosk that includes Tilt-A-Whirl t-shirts. Maybe the local F-Town Brewing Company could craft a beer named after this iconic ride. And, if I’m going to brainstorm here, I may as well dream big. I’d love to see an operating Tilt-A-Whirl find a permanent home in our historic downtown.

TELL ME: How can my community further promote the Tilt-A-Whirl as a tourist attraction? I’d love to hear your ideas.

 

The Mural Society of Faribault created and placed the Tilt-A-Whirl mural on the side of Jim’s Auto & Tire in downtown Faribault, Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

FYI: The Rice County Historical Society includes a small exhibit on Sellner Manufacturing. And a downtown mural features the Tilt-A-Whirl.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

From car to military shows & more, there’s plenty to do in Rice County this weekend May 18, 2017

A scene from the July 2016 Car Cruise Night. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.

 

INTERESTED IN VINTAGE CARS, flea markets, running for charity, gardening, military history, or comedy? If you are, check out activities in Rice County this weekend.

 

The U’s solar car at the August Car Cruise Night last summer. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.

 

Kicking off the weekend is Faribault Car Cruise Night slated for 6 pm. – 9 p.m. Friday along Central Avenue in the heart of historic downtown Faribault. The University of Minnesota solar vehicle is a special draw to this first of the summer cruise event. The car shows are held on the third Friday of the month from May through August.

 

An absolutely beautiful work of hood ornament art, in my opinion. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2014.

 

I’m a Car Cruise Night enthusiast. It’s a perfect time to mill around the downtown—appreciating the vehicles, the historic architecture and the people who attend. With camera in hand, I always find something new to photograph. Often, I view the artistic angle of the vintage vehicles. That interests me way more than what’s under the hood.

 

A Minnesota souvenir, an example of what you might find at a flea market. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

 

Saturday morning brings the Rice County Historical Society spring flea market from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the RCHS, 1814 N.W. Second Avenue in Faribault. One of my favorite activities is poking through treasures. As a bonus, the county museum will be open at no charge.

 

The Drag-On’s Car Club graphics, photographed through the window of a vintage car. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Right next door, at the Rice County Fairgrounds, the Faribo Drag-On’s Car Club hosts its annual Car/Truck Show and Automotive Swap Meet from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturday. The show includes pedal car races for the kids.

 

Edited image from Color Dash.

 

Also along Second Avenue Northwest, but at Alexander Park, Rice County Habitat for Humanity will benefit from a Color Dash 5K  sponsored by the Faribault Future’s class. On-site packet pick-up is at 9 a.m. followed by the race at 10 a.m.

 

Hosta will be among the plants sold at the GROWS plant sale. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

If you’re a gardener, you’ll want to shop the Faribault GROWS Garden Club perennial plant sale from 8 a.m. – noon in the Faribault Senior Center parking lot along Division Street. Sale proceeds will go toward purchase of trees for city parks and flowers for Central Park.

 

This piece of military equipment was exhibited last September when the Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall came to Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.

 

Military history is the focus of the 8th annual Armed Forces Day—Military Timeline Weekend gathering at the Rice County Steam & Gas Engines grounds just south of Dundas/Northfield on Minnesota State Highway 3. I’ve never been to this event, which recently moved to the Rice County location. For military history buffs, this presents a unique opportunity to learn and to view living history as re-enactors role play noted military battles and more. The event opens at 10 a.m., closing at 5 p.m. on Saturday and at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

 

The Looney Lutherans. Photo credit, The Looney Lutherans website, media section.

 

Wrapping up the weekend is “The Looney Lutherans” music and comedy show at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Paradise Center for the Arts, 321 Central Avenue North in downtown Faribault. I expect this trio of actresses will work their magic on even the most stoic among us. I could use some laughter.

Before or after the show, check out the gallery exhibits, including one by 13-year-old Mohamed Abdi, a young artist already exhibiting a passion and strong talent in art.

There you go. All of this is happening right here. Not in the Twin Cities. But here, in greater Minnesota. Let’s embrace the opportunities in our backyard. Right here in Rice County. And, if you don’t live within county lines, we’d love to have you here exploring our part of Minnesota.

FYI: If you plan to attend any of the above events, please check Facebook pages and websites for any possible changes due to the rainy weather and also for detailed info. With the Paradise show, check on ticket availability in advance.

For more events happening in Rice County, visit the Faribault and Northfield tourism websites.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Promoting Faribault March 10, 2017

A snippet of Faribault’s just-published 2017 tourism guide cover shows Faribault’s signature angled name graphic overlaid on a photo taken along Central Avenue.

 

NEARLY 35 YEARS AGO, I moved to Faribault, relocating to this southeastern Minnesota city after my May 1982 marriage. My husband had the more secure job in an area with more employment opportunities.

I’ve grown to love this community and its people. I can go almost anywhere in town and run into a friend or acquaintance. While Faribault, with a population of around 23,000 still seems big to me in comparison to my rural southwestern Minnesota hometown of under 400, I feel here the closeness of a small town. Paths cross at events and in churches, schools, grocery stores, shops, restaurants, parks and more. That creates a sense of community.

Among events fostering community closeness is the monthly May – August Car Cruise Night along Central Avenue in our historic downtown. The well-kept aged buildings in Faribault’s central commercial district are among our strongest assets and provide an ideal backdrop for car enthusiasts to gather.

For a blogger like me, Car Cruise Night presents an abundance of photographic opportunities. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with new and creative ways to photograph the car show, showcased many times on Minnesota Prairie Roots.

 

My July 2016 Car Cruise Night photo is the cover of the 2017 Faribault tourism guide.

 

Now my car shoots have extended beyond this space to tourism. A photo I shot at the July 2016 Car Cruise Night graces the cover of the just-released 2017 Visit Faribault Minnesota tourism guide published by the Faribault Daily News in collaboration with the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. I am delighted and honored to have my work chosen by a committee for this placement.

In a single photo, potential visitors get a snapshot of Faribault. In the backdrop architecture, they see the history and the care Faribault has taken to preserve historic buildings. In the people and cars, they see a fun event. In the green Faribault banner and lush, hanging flower basket, they see community pride.

 

My original photo from the July 2016 Car Cruise Night. The left side of this photo is printed on page 22 of the tourism guide in the section titled “Explore historic downtown.” Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

But there’s more to this photo than seen in the vertical tourism guide cover. I shot the image in a horizontal format, my view stretching along nearly the entire length of the 200 block (west side) of Central Avenue. The 1884 Fleckenstein building, beautifully renovated and restored by Faribault-based Restoration Services, Inc., anchors the image on the right. But just look at all those buildings beyond. I cannot say enough about how lovely the historic architecture in downtown Faribault.

Of course, Faribault is about much more, so much more. I’ve also had the opportunity recently to pen pieces on River Bend Nature Center and the historic murals in our downtown for the tourism website. I’m proud to promote Faribault, pronounced fair-uh-boh. That would be French in a community that’s today culturally diverse.

#

TELL ME: What would you like to know about Faribault? Or, what do you know about Faribault? Or, what do you love about Faribault?

FYI: In addition to my cover photo, my Midway photo from the Rice County Fair is printed in an ad on page 20 and a photo I took of Twiehoff Gardens & Nursery is published on page 30.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Faribault Car Cruise season closes with impressive finale August 30, 2016

This cute little 1959 Metropolitan drew lots of attention as did its companion one several blocs away.

This cute little 1959 Metropolitan drew lots of attention as did its companion one several blocks away.

I COULD FEEL THE ENERGY, the vibe, the excitement on Friday evening in historic downtown Faribault.

This little guy was enthralled with the University of Minnesota's solar car.

This little guy was enthralled with the University of Minnesota’s solar car.

I could see the enthusiasm, the sense of community, the togetherness.

Another view of the U's solar car.

Another view of the U’s solar car.

And I heard the positive comments—the praise for Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night and the number of collector vehicles and people the event drew. Even I couldn’t believe the scene before me as my husband and I arrived downtown an hour after the cruise started.

The crowd and vehicles stretched for blocks along Faribault's Central Avenue for Car Cruise Night.

The crowd and vehicles stretched for blocks along Faribault’s Central Avenue for Car Cruise Night.

Rather than filling the typical 1 ½ to 2 city blocks, vehicles lined four blocks of Central Avenue from Fourth Street to the Buckham Center. And the crowd of car enthusiasts far outnumbered any I’ve ever seen at these monthly cruise nights. That says a lot for the organizer—Faribault Main Street—and others who are embracing this ever-growing gathering.

One of the most unusual vehicles included this one. There's hole in the hood that allows the motor part to extend through the hood and for the vehicle to be driven.

This unusual vehicle drew lots of interest. There’s hole in the hood that allows the inner workings to extend through the hood and for the vehicle to be driven.

While I initially planned to leave my camera at home, because I’ve photographed Cruise Night many times already, I knew I would regret doing so. It was the right decision to sling my Canon 20-D across my shoulder and document whatever caught my eye. That included many many vehicles I have not seen at past Car Cruise Nights. Here’s some of what I saw:

Another favorite of mine: a 1955 Chevy Nomad two-door wagon.

Another favorite of mine: a 1955 Chevy Nomad two-door wagon, left.

A buick

Collectible car owners crossed the border from Iowa to participate in the Friday Car Cruise Night. Here’s a beautiful 1955 Buick.

A 1977

Another Iowa car: a 1977 Olds Cutlass Supreme

My appreciation for vehicles, like this Ford Torino, extends to the details. Love this artsy front end.

My appreciation for vehicles, like this Ford Torino, extends to the details. Love this artsy front end.

This Chrysler LeBaron doesn't seen all that old to me. That tells me something. I like the plain canvas backdrop of building #117, which has always been a mystery to me.

This Chrysler LeBaron doesn’t seen all that old to me. What does that tell you about my age? I appreciate the plain canvas backdrop of building #117, which has always been a mystery to me.

When a particularly noisy souped up car roared down Central Avenue, this boy covered his ears. I did the same.

When a particularly noisy souped up car roared down Central Avenue, this boy covered his ears. I did the same after snapping this image.

That would be a Mercedes.

That would be a Mercedes.

This 1956 Pontiac features a Continental kit which allows the spare tire to be attached to the back.

This 1956 Pontiac features a Continental kit which allows the spare tire to be attached to the back.

I always people watch. I have no idea why this couple was lying on the sidewalk at the intersection of Central Avenue and Fourth Street.

I always people-watch. I have no idea why this couple was lying on the sidewalk at the intersection of Central Avenue and Fourth Street.

One of the most unusual cars: a 1959 Ford Skyliner with a folding trunk.

One of the most unusual cars: a 1959 Ford Skyliner with a retractable roof, truly an engineering feat.

Hood ornaments always interest me for their artsy beauty.

Hood ornaments always interest me for their artsy beauty.

Volkswagons always

Although I don’t find the Volkswagen a particularly comfortable car (I once rode in one all the way from Mankato to central Wisconsin and back), I appreciate their unique style and cuteness factor.

Look closely and you'll find plenty of humor at a car show.

Look closely and you’ll find plenty of humor at a car cruise.

That's a chopped Model A, left.

That’s a chopped Model A, left.

As day faded into darkness, I photographed these Fords parked outside on the Faribault's oldest family-run businesses, Burkhartzmeyer Shoes.

As day faded into darkness, I photographed these Fords parked outside one of Faribault’s oldest family-run businesses, Burkhartzmeyer Shoes.

It was a perfect August summer evening in Faribault with the sky tinted red as the sun set, here looking toward the historic Buckham Memorial Library.

It was a perfect August summer evening in Faribault with the sky tinted red as the sun set, here looking toward the historic Buckham Memorial Library and the community center.

I love the hue of this unidentified vintage car.

I love the hue of this unidentified vintage car.

Although certainly not old, this Dodge Challenger Hellcat drew lots of admirers as the headlights changed colors: red, green and purple.

Although certainly not old, this Dodge Challenger Hellcat drew lots of admirers as the headlights changed colors: red, green and purple.

FYI: The Faribo Drag Ons won the first-ever Car Club Showdown on Friday evening and received a gigantic homemade trophy. (I missed the presentation.)

Friday’s event closes the 2016 Car Cruise Night season in Faribault. The event resumes in the spring. And from all indications (I talked to a key organizer and got an inside track), next year promises even more new attractions to draw folks into downtown Faribault. And that is a good thing.

A special thanks to my automotive machinist/car enthusiast husband, Randy, for his help in identifying the vehicles featured in this post.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Cruisn’ onto Faribault’s Central Avenue on a summer evening July 19, 2016

A 1946 Fleck's

A 1946 Fleck’s delivery truck is showcased along Faribault’s Central Avenue at the July 15 Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night. Donated to the Rice County Historical Society, this Fleckenstein Brewery delivery truck is the only known one to still exist. Efforts are underway to restore the truck  with a gofundme site established to raise $35,000 for the project. Fleckenstein Brewery was in business in Faribault for 108 years.

HISTORY,

 

Car Cruise Night, 28 die in window

 

NOSTALGIA,

I've discovered that car collectors often possess a quirky sense of humor.

I’ve learned that car collectors often possess a quirky sense of humor.

HUMOR—all rolled into Faribault’s monthly Car Cruise Night on Friday evening in the heart of our historic downtown.

 

Car Cruise Night, 1 lime green Ford 4x4

 

Car Cruise Night, 71 boy in Mercedes

 

Car Cruise Night, 55 Pioneer collectible car

 

What an event. For three hours I meandered and perused the vehicles angled into parking spots along the 200 and 300 blocks of Central Avenue. Music blared. Cars roared and rumbled. And folks lingered car-side and curb-side to admire vehicles ranging from a polished lime green Ford F250 4×4 truck to a Pioneer collectible car to a mini Mercedes driven by a preschooler.

 

Car Cruise Night, 25 street scene downtown Faribault

 

The atmosphere was kicked back relaxing against a backdrop of lovely historic buildings on a perfect Minnesota summer evening.

 

Car Cruise Night, 81 skateboarders

 

Car Cruise Night, 85 hanging out

 

Car Cruise Night, 17 man passing through

 

Friends conversed. Car enthusiasts mingled. Teens skateboarded and biked through the crowd while families group-walked, men clustered to talk cars and a couple leaned in close to study an engine. Others simply went about their business downtown, seemingly oblivious.

 

Car Cruise Night, 113 Chrysler 300, 1965

 

I’ve been to many of these Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Nights, and never have I seen such a crowd. Participants included my friends Larry and Sheryl who arrived in their creamy pale yellow 1965 Chrysler 300, a car which recently took them on a road trip to the Ozarks of Missouri.

 

Car Cruise Night, 111 Chevy pick-up truck 1950

This truck, originally painted a dark green, belonged to Dean’s grandfather. It was then passed on to Dean’s dad, who painted it John Deere green. When Dean got the truck after his father’s death, he painted it black. Growing up, Dean learned to drive the pick-up in an alfalfa field. Although others have suggested that Dean soup this truck up, he intends to keep it as original as possible.

Across the street, Dean shared that he is the third generation owner of a 1950 Chevy pick-up, a truck he will some day pass on to his son. The truck means a lot to Dean, whose father died 26 years ago of a massive heart attack in his mid fifties.

 

Car Cruise Night, 36 Imperial

 

A block away, my friend Barb directed me to the classy 60s-something Chrysler Imperial she and husband Bob drove to the event.

 

Car Cruise Night, 45 in loving memory

 

If there’s one universal emotion among participants in Car Cruise Night, it’s pride. In every gleaming bumper, every personalized message, every vintage period accessory, I see the pride of those who own these vehicles.

 

Park stickers grace the window of a 1959 Edsel Village Wagon.

Park stickers grace the window of a 1959 Edsel Village Wagon.

 

Car Cruise Night, 64 red car

 

This one-of-a-kind ginormous trophy was unveiled

This one-of-a-kind ginormous trophy was unveiled at the Car Cruise. It will be awarded on August 19 to the car club with the 10 best cars during the Car Club Show Down.

Memories are polished in to these vehicles that are more than mere modes of transportation. These are Saturday night dates, family vacations, bumpy rides across alfalfa fields, first cars, trophy winners. These are stories of people and places and moments in life.

A show of humor on the back of a 1974 Ford Torino.

A humorous touch on the back of a 1974 Ford Torino.

Please check back for two more posts featuring images from the July 15 Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night organized by Faribault Main Street and supported by numerous sponsors.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

In downtown Faribault: Cars, a friendly competition and a sense of community July 14, 2016

I love love love this car. It helps that green is my favorite color.

Look at this beauty I photographed in June at the Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.

NOT THAT MANY YEARS AGO, you couldn’t have dragged me to a car cruise. I had no interest. Then something changed. I accompanied my husband, an automotive machinist by profession, to a car show. And while my interest is not the same as his, I found reasons to enjoy perusing the showcased vehicles.

Consider the Plymouth ship emblem on the Plymouth. Thoughts of immigrants, past and present, filtered through my mind. The emblem is, in many ways, symbolic of downtown Faribault. Many of our town's newest immigrants live above businesses along Central Avenue.

The Plymouth ship emblem on this Plymouth features art and history. Photographed at the June Car Cruise Night. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.

For me, the draw is all about photo ops, art, history, stories, the people and a sense of community.

A 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, parked along Central Avenue in downtown Faribault during the July 20 Faribault Car Cruise Night.

A 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, parked along Central Avenue during a previous Car Cruise. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

For Randy, it’s more about what’s under the hood and about the vintage vehicles. He’s my go-to guide for all things automotive.

In a month, 10 people will be awarded these Car Cruise t-shirts if their car club is chosen as a winner in the Car Club Show Down.

In a month, a car club will be awarded a trophy, 10 Car Cruise t-shirts (with the above logo) and bragging rights if chosen as  winner of the Car Club Show Down. To participate, car clubs must register with the Faribault Chamber of Commerce (phone 507.334.4381 or email chamber@faribaultmn.org) by July 29. Each competing club will feature its 10 best cars at the August 19 Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night. Image courtesy of Faribault Main Street.

This Friday evening Faribault Main Street, with the backing of nine local businesses and the local Faribo Drag-On’s (car club), hosts its monthly summer Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. on the 200 and 300 blocks of Central Avenue.

The Gopher Motorsports car and team. Photo from Gopher Motorsports Facebook page.

The Gopher Motorsports car and team. Photo from Gopher Motorsports Facebook page.

The event is growing in popularity as Faribault Main Street changes things up and adds new attractions. This Friday Gopher Motorsports, the University of Minnesota student Chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), team will appear with their global Formuala SAE Series race car. The U will return to Car Cruise Night on August 19 with its solar vehicle.

Parts from this engine block are being used to create a unique trophy.

Parts from this engine block are being used to create a unique trophy. Photo courtesy of Faribault Main Street.

But there’s more. Car Cruise organizers will also unveil a one-of-a-kind trophy to be awarded on August 19 to a single car club in a Car Club Show Down. The trophy, billed as “ridiculously huge,” features parts pulled from an engine block and more. That’s sure to draw interest as a friendly competition begins among car enthusiasts.

A local restaurant set up its food trailer along Central Avenue.

Bashers, a local restaurant, set up its food trailer along Central Avenue at the June Car Cruise. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.

Also new this year is the availability of food and beer from street vendors. Downtown restaurants, bars and a brewery have also always been an option for attendees.

A beautiful historic setting.

Central Avenue in downtown Faribault provides a lovely setting for Car Cruise Night, this one photographed in June. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.

I love what Car Cruise Night is doing for Faribault. It’s bringing folks together on a beautiful summer evening into the heart of our city. It’s building a sense of community, of closeness. It’s generating interest in our historic downtown. And it’s offering a venue for car enthusiasts to showcase their vehicles to those who are motorheads and those, like me, who are not.

My husband and I would love an old pick-up like this, restored, of course.

Photographed at the June Downtown Faribault Car Cruise Night. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.

FYI: Car enthusiasts will have another opportunity to view cars, trucks and tractors during the first-ever Cruise-In Car Show set for 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, at St. John’s United Church of Christ, Wheeling Township. The country church is located at 19086 Jacobs Avenue, rural Faribault. Watch for more information in a future post.

Additionally, on August 26, the North Iowa Vintage Auto Club is traveling from Iowa for a weekend of exploring Faribault.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

In Faribault: More than a car cruise on Central June 21, 2016

Aged buildings, most restored, define Faribault's Central Avenue.

Aged buildings, most restored, define Faribault’s Central Avenue.

FRIDAY EVENING, AS I STROLLED along the 200 and 300 blocks of Central Avenue, I considered how lovely the downtown in this place I call home.

My husband and I would love an old pick-up like this, restored, of course.

My husband and I would love an old pick-up like this, restored, of course.

Perhaps it was the slant of sunlight upon historic buildings or the conversations with friends or this gathering of car enthusiasts which prompted such a contemplative mood. It really doesn’t matter.

A beautiful historic setting.

A beautiful historic setting.

What matters is that events like Car Cruise Night bring people together on a beautiful summer evening in the heart of an equally beautiful downtown. Faribault’s Central Avenue, with its historic buildings rising up, provides a lovely backdrop for the vintage and other vehicles showcased on the third Friday evening of the month, May through September.

A local restaurant set up its food trailer along Central Avenue.

A local restaurant, Bashers Sports Bar & Grill, pulled a food trailer onto Central Avenue.

The addition of food trucks this year and downtown eateries vending outdoors encourages folks to linger and to talk, to be neighborly, to claim community pride.

Consider the Plymouth ship emblem on the Plymouth. Thoughts of immigrants, past and present, filtered through my mind. The emblem is, in many ways, symbolic of downtown Faribault. Many of our town's newest immigrants live above businesses along Central Avenue.

Consider the Plymouth ship emblem. Thoughts of immigrants, past and present, filtered through my mind. The emblem is, in many ways, symbolic of downtown Faribault. Many of our town’s newest immigrants live above businesses along Central Avenue. In the background is the historic marquee of the Paradise Center for the Arts.

I appreciate signage both in English and Spanish.

I appreciated signage both in English and Spanish.

American pride inside a vehicle.

American pride inside a collector car.

We are a diverse community. As diverse as the vehicles angled to curbs on Car Cruise Night. I’m sensing more and more that we are growing more welcoming of one another. And that is a good thing.

One of Faribault's newest businesses, Bluebird Cakery, held a cupcake eating contest. I missed it as I was unaware.

One of Faribault’s newest businesses, Bluebird Cakery, held a cupcake eating contest. I missed it as I was unaware of the event.

It’s a good thing, too, that Faribault seems to be working harder to bring people into the heart of downtown. We’re no Stillwater or Red Wing or Wabasha, all southern Minnesota communities that draw lots of visitors to their historic downtowns. But we’re moving that direction—one Car Cruise Night, one brewery, one cupcake shop, one coffee and chocolate shop, one cheese shop, one arts center, one shoe store, one BBQ and arts fest…at a time.

BONUS PHOTOS:

I love love love this car. It helps that green is my favorite color.

I love love love this car. The color and style.

For awhile I watched this little guy follow the double center lines along Central. Oh, to find joy in such a simple action.

For awhile I watched this free-spirited little guy follow the double center lines along Central. Oh, to find joy in such a simple activity.

Details matter when you're a car collector. This Belvedere manual was laying on the dash.

Details matter when you’re a car collector. This Belvedere manual was lying on the dash.

I was naturally drawn to this car because, as a teen, my bedroom was painted lime green. I still love that vibrant hue.

I was naturally drawn to this car because, as a teen, my bedroom was painted lime green. I still love that vibrant hue.

Elvis was not in the house, but in the car.

Elvis was not in the house, but in the car.

A vintage Plymouth cruises onto Central.

A vintage Plymouth cruises onto Central. To the left, The Signature Bar & Grill vends food.

These snappy sports cars drew lots of admirers, including...

These snappy sports cars drew lots of admirers, including…

...this boy so intent on photographing the sports cars that he didn't notice me photographing him.

…this boy so intent on photographing the sports cars that he didn’t notice me photographing him. Car Cruise Night draws enthusiasts of all ages.

A graceful looking Bel Air Chevy.

A lovely Bel Air Chevy.

I always admire the shiny bumpers and the reflections therein.

I always appreciate the shiny bumpers polished to perfection and the reflections therein.

Probably the most unsual vehicle on display: the German Luftschutz motorcycle. I need to hear the story behind this.

Probably the most unusual vehicle on display: the German Luftschutz motorcycle. I need to hear how (and why) the owner acquired this bike.

So graceful, these sailing ships, a hood ornament on a Plymouth.

So graceful, this sailing ships hood ornament on a Plymouth.

The art on the hood of the Pontiac impresses.

The Pontiac hood art always impresses.

FYI: The next Faribault Car Cruise Night is set for 6 – 9 p.m. on Friday, July 15.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling