Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

About July 15, 2009

WRITER AUDREY KLETSCHER HELBLING grew up in a Little House on the Prairie. Really.

Her tiny childhood home outside of Vesta didn’t have a bathroom or, for a long time, a telephone. On the family’s dairy farm, Audrey walked beans, picked rock, fed calves and cows, and scooped manure.

When she wasn’t in the barn, Audrey played in the grove with her five siblings. Or she biked across the flat open land of spacious skies and stunning sunsets in southwestern Minnesota.

Her writing career began at the Wabasso High School newspaper, The Rabbit Tracks. That led her to pursue a mass communications degree and a writing career. Fresh out of college, Audrey worked as a newspaper reporter and photographer for The Gaylord Hub, where she was fondly called “the cub from The Hub.”

Eventually, Audrey joined the staffs of other weekly and daily newspapers in Minnesota. She also established permanent residence in Faribault with her husband, Randy, where she has lived in the same house since 1984.

After taking time off to raise her three children (she’s an empty nester now and a grandma), Audrey returned to writing. Her work has since been published in poetry anthologies, devotionals, two books, magazines, newspapers, on billboards, on signs along recreational trails and in greeting cards. She is also passionate about blogging and photography.

When she isn’t writing, Audrey loves to read and has achieved a childhood dream of living near a library, only blocks from her house. Her hometown still doesn’t have a public library. But thanks to the efforts of Audrey, several Vesta residents and the co-founder of the Little Free Library, Vesta now has a LFL. The library was established in July 2012 outside the community cafe, where the manager has filled the cafe with shelves full of donated books.

Audrey also enjoys photography, reading, tending flower gardens, touring small towns and rural areas, and shopping at rummage sales and thrift stores.

YOU MAY CONTACT Audrey at this email address: audrey at mnprairieroots.com

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED in purchasing photos featured on Minnesota Prairie Roots, or other photos (Audrey has an extensive file), please email: audrey at mnprairieroots.com   Her photos have been purchased, for example, by an ad agency, a New York-based charity, individuals, an author, magazines, newspapers, tourism groups, a gamer, a website developer and more.

Audrey also has experience in proofreading and editing. If you have a project which requires proofing and/or editing, contact her for more information and a quote. Audrey brings a passion for the written word, language, grammar, quality writing and more to projects she undertakes.

AUDREY’S WRITING CAREER includes the following:

  • Worked as a newspaper reporter and photographer for The Gaylord Hub; The Sleepy Eye Herald-Dispatch; The Free Press, Mankato; The People’s Press, Owatonna; and The Northfield News.
  • Freelance articles published in The Land magazine; The Lutheran Witness; The Lutheran Digest; The Secret Place, Devotions for Daily Worship; Midwest Mix Magazine; and Minnesota Parent (online).
  • Southern Minnesota Correspondent for Minnesota Moments magazine. Work with the magazine included writing, photography, editing and proofreading.
  • Stories published in the following books: God Answers Prayers Military Edition: True Stories from People Who Serve and Those Who Love Them; Penned from the Heart, Volume XII; and Hidden History of the Minnesota River Valley.
  • Poetry published in Poetic Strokes, A Regional Anthology of Poetry from Southeastern Minnesota, Volumes 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7; The Talking Stick, Forgotten Roads, Volume Nineteen (received honorable mention for “Hit-and-Run” poem); The Lutheran Digest (fall 2004 issue); Minnesota Moments (May/June 2009); The Talking Stick, Black & White, Volume 20; Lake Region Review, 2011; The Talking Stick, Nightfall, Volume 21 (one of 130 pieces published out of 278 submissions); Lake Region Review, Two, 2012 (one of 34 pieces published out of 430 submissions); and It’s All One Water (one of 28 pieces published out of 110 submissions).
  • Greeting card verses published by Warner Press, Gallant Greetings and DaySpring.
  • Blogged for Midwest Mix Magazine and Minnesota Moments magazine.
  • Blog posts featured twice on “Freshly Pressed” on the WordPress.com homepage (one of 11 posts selected world-wide from among 315,261 new blog posts published on July 7, 2010, and one of 11 from among 834,622 new blogs posts published world-wide on June 12, 2012); MinnPost’s “Minnesota Blog Cabin;” Minnesota Public Radio’s “News Cut” column by Bob Collins and MPR’s Minnesota Today “Blog Box.”
  • Other: Linked to on Minnesota Twins player Joe Mauer’s official Web site for post on his Kemp’s ice cream commercial.
  • Spring 2011 winner of the Roadside Poetry Project. Poem posted on four billboards in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
  • Highlighted in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio’s Bob Collins in an article published in the March 2011 issue of Minnesota Monthly magazine. Collins referenced only two Minnesota blogs, Minnesota Prairie Roots and Minnesota Brown, in citing sources he reads daily to write his “News Cut” column.
  • Creative nonfiction published in The Talking Stick, Black & White, Volume 20.
  • Iron Range writer Aaron J. Brown, author of the Minnesota Brown blog, wrote this in a January 11, 2012, post: “MN Prairie Roots, rich with photographs, history and modern perspective about southern Minnesota, is probably the best ‘place’ blog in the state.”
  • Photo honors include: first place in the scenery division of the 2003 National Mutual Benefit photo contest; placed in several River Bend Nature Center, Faribault, photo contests with image featured in RBNC 2007 calendar; winner in Thrivent Financial for Lutherans 2011 photo contest with image featured on Thrivent’s calendar; cover photo for Minnesota Moments’ 2011 fall issue; and cover on a music composition book, Four Organ Preludes Based on Common Hymn Tunes by Curtis Lanoue.
  • Three poems included in “The Image and the Word 2012” gallery exhibit at the Emy Frentz Arts Guild, Mankato. Poems also included in 2013 and 2014.
  • Poem, “Her Treasure,” selected for inclusion in “Poet-Artist Collaboration XI” at Crossings at Carnegie in Zumbrota. Twenty-six of 180 submitted poems were chosen for this exhibit which pairs poetry with art.
  • Poem, “Quotes from a survivor,” selected for publication on The Minneapolis StarTribune website and in the August 4, 2012, Variety (print) section in commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the 35W bridge collapse. Readers were invited to submit 35-word poems related to the bridge collapse. Here’s the link: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/164792906.html?refer=y
  • Poem, “Her Treasure,” featured on Northern Community Radio’s “The Beat.” Click here to hear producer Steve Downing read my poem selected for airing on this poetry program.
  • Earned honorable mention in fiction competition with “The Final Chapter,” a short story publishing in The Talking Stick 22. St. Paul author John Reimringer judged the fiction finalists, selecting the top three winners. Twenty-five short stories will publish in the anthology along with 29 creative nonfiction pieces and 87 poems.  Audrey’s poem, “The Farmer’s Song,” was also chosen for publication in TS 22. 
  • Two poems selected for publication on signs as part of the first-ever Mankato Poetry Walk and Ride (2013). “Off to Mankato to ‘get and education'” and “The thrill of vertical” were selected from among about 120 submissions during this competition. Doris Stengel, past president of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, and Peter Stein, League of Minnesota Poets youth chairperson, selected the 27 winning poems during blind judging. The poetry signs will be placed along recreational trails in Mankato and North Mankato during the summer of 2013.
  • Poem, “Lilacs,” selected as a Work of Merit by the poetry committee in the 2013 Northwoods Art & Book Festival in Hackensack, Minnesota. Fest sponsored by the Northwoods Arts Council.
  • “An essay of barn photos & memories” blog post selected for WordPress’ Freshly Pressed on November 30, 2013. WordPress editors daily choose eight posts, from among more than a half million WordPress blogs world-wide, for this honor. Here’s what editor Ben Huberman said about the “barn” post: “You struck a delicate and moving balance in this piece between letting the photos you took speak for themselves, and sharing with your readers the memories and emotions they invoke in you. It’s a lovely, well-executed post that deserves a wider audience.” This marks the third time Minnesota Prairie Roots blog posts have been Freshly Pressed.
  • Poem, “Lilacs,” selected for inclusion in Poet Artist Collaboration XIII at Crossings at Carnegie in Zumbrota, Minnesota. Of more than 200 submitted poems, only 26 were selected for this project. Juried artists create artwork inspired by the selected poems. Paired poetry and art are showcased in the gallery during National Poetry Month in April, and into May, with poets and artists honored at a public reception in May.
  • “The Farmer’s Wife, Circa 1960” selected for publication in Poetic Strokes 2014, a regional poetry anthology published by Southeastern Libraries Cooperating. Twenty-three poems were chosen from 196 submissions.
  • Poem, “Bandwagon,” chosen as a winner in the 2014 Mankato Poetry Walk and Ride and posted at Lion’s Park in Mankato.
  • “Hope of the Farmer” picked as a Work of Merit in the 2014 Northwoods Arts Council Art & Book Fair poetry competition.
  • “Sunday Afternoon at the Auction Barn” awarded second place (and published) in The Talking Stick, Volume 23, Symmetry, poetry contest.
  • Named the Best Local Blog/Blogger in Southern Minnesota in 2014 by the regional arts/entertainment/lifestyle magazine Southern Minnesota Scene. The award came via online nominations followed by online voting.
  • Photo, “Fourth of July BINGO Callers,” awarded first place in the People category of National Mutual Benefit’s 2014 Photo Contest.
  • Poems, “Class Reunion” and “Wednesday Night Bingo at the Legion,” selected for publication in Poetic Strokes, A Regional Anthology of Poetry from Southeastern Minnesota published by Southeastern Libraries Cooperating in 2015.
  • “The Final Amen” awarded honorable mention in creative nonfiction and published in Undercurrents, The Talking Stick, Volume 24, published in 2015. Audrey’s poem, “Centerfolds,” was also published in volume 24.
  • Poems, “Confessions in a Grocery Store Parking Lot,” and “Prairie Garden Memories,” published in Voices: Past & Present, The Talking Stick, Volume 25, in 2016.
  • Stories and photos published in the 2016 and 2017 Clear Lake, Iowa, tourism guides.
  • Earned honorable mention for “A Dinner Date at the Lakeview Drive Inn” photo in a 2015 contest sponsored by National Mutual Benefit.
  • Faribault Car Cruise Night photo published on the cover of the 2017 Faribault Visitors’ Guide.
  • Stories published on the Visit Faribault website.
  • Poem, “The Farmer’s Song,” selected for inclusion in an artsong project by David Kassler of Rochester. Kassler composed music for the poem and six others performed by a chamber choir at two concerts in Rochester in March 2017.
  • Poem, “Cornfield Memories” awarded honorable mention in the 2017 Mankato Poetry Walk & Ride competition. Poem posted on a sign along a recreational trail in Mankato.
  • “Water Stories from a Minnesota Prairie Perspective” selected as the nonfiction winner in a “We are water” writing contest sponsored by Plum Creek Initiative and Minnesota League of Minnesota Voters in 2017. Story to be published in River Valley Woman.
  • Poem, “Ode to my Farm Wife Mother” selected for inclusion in the 2017 Oakwood Literary Journal published by South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D.
  • Short story, “Art Obsession,” awarded honorable mention and published in August 2017 in Fine Lines, The Talking Stick, Volume 26. One other short story, two works of creative nonfiction and a poem also selected for publication in this anthology of Minnesota writing by The Jackpine Writers’ Bloc.
  • Three photos published in bestselling author Marta McDowell’s book, The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder–The Frontier Landscapes That Inspired The Little House Books. Published by Timber Press in 2017.
  • Photo of Hill’s Hardware Hank in Wabasha included in the Our World hardware store exhibit at the Minnesota Children’s Museum, St. Paul.
  • Photo included in an exhibit at the National WW II Museum in New Orleans.
  • Photo included in a 2017 temporary Laura Ingalls Wilder exhibit at the American Writers Museum in Chicago.

117 Responses to “About”

  1. Dorothy Bowman Says:

    Great. I think this will work! I’ll keep watching for your writings. Love To My Little Princess!!!!

    • Todd Bol Says:

      I am a co-founder of Little Free Library and we will supply builders official signs that enable them to be part of our team and to get on our Google maps section. This way they can tell their story and become an official Little Free Library and put their story on our web site. I can be reached at tbol@littlefreelibrary.org. We are always interested in supporting a well planned contest to provide Little Free Libraries in communities. Please call me at 715-338-2223 if you are interested.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Thanks, Todd, for the additional insights and contact info. Readers, I’m connecting with Todd soon and will pass along more information to you here about the Free Little Library. Be sure to check out the website for details on supporting and/or starting a Little Free Library.

  2. Dawn Kast Says:

    Hi Audrey,
    Thank you for the great coverage of the Park Rapids “Art Leap”. We had lots of enthusiastic visitors! Numbers were up at most studios this year.

    Maybe you had a little something to do with that. Thank you.

    Your site is very classy and well written. Good graphics and easy to read.

    I am going to pass on your address to the Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council (PRLAAC) members at our next meeting.

    Keep up the good work.


    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Dawn–I appreciate your kind words regarding my blog and especially your spreading the word about Minnesota Prairie Roots. Above all, I am having a great deal of fun writing and taking photos. Also, I’m glad to hear that the Park Rapids Art Leap had a great turn-out!

  3. Sara Says:

    Hi Audrey!
    I am loving your blog! I wish I could find time to write more and get into what you are doing! One of my majors is English Education so I feel like I’m always writing about books and things I don’t really want to write about. Oh well, everyone pays their dues!
    Your stories and the Minnesota Moments magazine always continue to brighten my mood and day!
    -Sara Borchert

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Sara, and for reading both Minnesota Prairie Roots and Minnesota Moments. I love writing. What else can I say?

      Readers, check out Sara’s photography at Maple Woods Photography. This woman’s got talent and her passion for photography shows.

      Besides that, when you view Sara’s images, you’ll see the work of royalty. Sara is the current Rice County Fair Queen. And I can’t think of anyone more deserving. Sara is sweet, kind, outgoing, generous…, well, all the qualities befitting royalty.

  4. Julie Says:

    Love the positive perspective in your writing! It’s refreshing after dealing and dealing and dealing some more! It’s a llllllllooooonnnnnnnnnggggggggg winter!

    Keep it up!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you so much, Julie. I appreciate your kind comment. I guess if we’re going to psychologically survive a long, snowy Minnesota winter, we have to be positive and see the humor in it all. I don’t always (like yesterday after shoveling snow), but I try.

      This morning I had to pull the shade in my east-facing home office window because the sun is shining in my eyes. Can you imagine? Sunshine! Yeah!

      Stay warm and safe on the prairie and thank you for reading Minnesota Prairie Roots.

  5. Hello Audrey, from a fellow writer/hobby-photographer in Lakeville with deep ties to Minnesota’s prairie. Just saw your blog about the shoe art. Unfortunately I don’t have anything that fits that criteria, but looked around your site to learn a bit more about you.

    The name ‘prairie roots’ caught my attention because this week I’ve been playing around with the title for my article (Call of the Prairie / Cries on the Prairie) which is based on an actual tragic event that happened back in 1870 with a neighboring family to my great-grandparents near Parkers Praire.

    Who knows, maybe our paths will cross one of these days!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Barbara, thanks for stopping by Minnesota Prairie Roots. I’m always happy to have new readers.

      I just checked out your Web site and am impressed by your writing credentials. Clearly, we share a passion for writing.

      The “prairie” story you have written certainly sounds intriguing. Let me know when and where it publishes. Anything related to the Minnesota prairie always interests me.

  6. Joanie Says:

    Your beautiful pictures of peonies remind me of my own garden memories! I too write for Minnesota Moments, “Meet your neighbors” segment, Joanie Buettgen(http://joanie19.wordpress.com)

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Joanie, thanks for visiting Minnesota Prairie Roots and taking the time to comment. Welcome to Minnesota Moments also. Glad to have you on board.

  7. Madi Says:

    Hi Audrey!! I just commented on your MinnPost article about your daughter moving to Buenos Aires! Thank you for supporting her. I moved from Maryland to Buenos Aires 3 years ago (I swear I’ll go back!!) and it’s been just beautiful. I’d love to be available to you and your daughter should she need anything.
    I run a travelers concierge service called http://www.baculturalconcierge.com that helps families, low mobility travelers, students and expats arrange their stay in Buenos Aires so please feel free to use me as a resource. I just found out we are recommended in the newest Lonely Planet Argentina edition too!

    Also! I wanted to share with you a great biz called SendLoveBA. It’s a parents best friend – making amazing care packages locally in Buenos Aires so parents can avoid international shipping costs and surprising their student/child with FRESH BAKED comfort foods like carrot cake, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, home made chicken soup, bagels and more. You can customize their package and SendLoveBA creates it and delivers it to their door at the date and time that works for them. Payment is easy online or by check to the Maryland office. This is perfect for Birthdays abroad too!

    I hope to be in touch!!


    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Madi, thanks for commenting on the MinnPost site and also here. I checked out both of your Web sites and am impressed by what you offer to travelers in Buenos Aires and those of us back home in the states.

      When my daughter previously lived in Argentina, she told me not to send packages because of the cost and the fact that she would need to travel to the airport to pick up packages. That you offer an option is a great idea.

      I can tell that you, like my daughter, love BA. She’s settled in there now, renting space in a beautiful old home and beginning her internship.

      As for me, I’m doing fine. Most days I simply pretend that she is still at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, instead of thousands of miles away in Argentina.

      I appreciate your offer of support to both of us and I will forward your contact info to her.

  8. Tanja Fiene Says:

    Hi Audrey,

    during my “work” as genealogist I found your blog and I am soooo happy!
    Your g-g-g-grandfather Hans Georg Christian Fiene (father-in-law of Karl Bode) is my g-g-g-grandfather too!
    I found the pictures on your blog about some Bode`s, their reunion and graves.
    Some of our “Fiene” ancestors are buried at the Immanuel Cemetery Courtland too. Do you have pictures about their graves too?
    Do you know the Bode-book from Lois Bode?
    Do you know something about the Fiene family?
    I have so many questions… It is so great to find you here!
    Please write back… looking forward hearing from you!!!

    Many greetings from Germany
    Tanja Fiene

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Tanja, thank you so much for connecting with me. I don’t know all that much about my family history, so I am going to e-mail you with contact info for my Aunt Dorothy, the family genealogist. I just called her and she is very excited to communicate with you about the Fiene family.

      I am familiar with the red Bode book; my mom has a copy. I’ll look through my photos from the Bode family reunion to see what images I have from the cemetery at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Courtland.

  9. sparrow1969 Says:

    Greetings Audrey,

    I ran across your blog from another blog I read, Old And In The Way. I’ve really enjoyed reading what you have written thus far, and look forward to reading on in the future.

    Waving hello from Minot, ND!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Well, sparrow1969, welcome to Minnesota Prairie Roots all the way from Minot. I’m glad you stopped by and have enjoyed my posts.

      By the way, I have family in Minot. A brother-in-law, sister-in-law and two nephews. And, you’ll like this: my husband was born in Mandan and lived on a North Dakota farm until he was about six. Then the family packed up and moved east to Minnesota.

  10. Sank Says:

    Hi Audrey, I’ve been reading some “back issues” on Minnesota Prairie Roots and I just wanted to take a minute and tell you what a fantastic writer you are. Really well written stuff.

    Thats is, back to the regular deal.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you so much, Sank. I’ve always loved language and the written word. Writing is my passion and Minnesota Prairie Roots offers me ample opportunity to write. Please also check out Minnesota Moments sometime. If you like what you read here, I promise you will also like that magazine, for which I am the Southern Minnesota Correspondent. Stop at a Barnes & Noble in the metro for a copy or check out the website at minnesotamoments.com.

  11. MaryTreacy Says:

    Audrey – You probably don’t remember me, but I certainly remember you well. I was once Mary Birmingham, librarian at Bethany, adviser to the college newspaper. As I recall you and I both got in deep trouble re. that publication….I was writing a piece for my blog re. the Dakota Reconciliation, the Ride and Dakota 38 when I came across your excellent blog. I love it! You are doing – and have done – great work. If you send me a USPS address I’ll drop you a note re life as it continues to unfold over the decades. Meanwhile, you’ll find my totally random blog posts at wordpress (of course) http://marytreacy.wordpress.com.

    Now back to my Christmas Eve reflections on the tragedy that occurred on the site you and I both saw every day from the heights of BLC….M

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Mary, thanks for reconnecting w/ me after all these decades. I honestly don’t recall that controversial article I wrote for the Bethany Lutheran College student newspaper. But I appreciate hearing that I stirred up some debate given most people don’t consider me the type of person to cause trouble. Of course, when I worked as a newspaper reporter, I wasn’t liked by everyone, which is a good thing when you’re a reporter. People didn’t always like being quoted, especially those attending public meetings.

      Anyway, thanks, Mary, for stopping by and subscribing to Minnesota Prairie Roots.

  12. Ervin J. and Carol Fahrenholtz Says:

    I check your web site every day. It’s the greatest page of our time . I’ve set it on to friends all over the country.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words regarding Minnesota Prairie Roots. My passion is writing and I love sharing stories and thoughts, and photos, on my blog. I appreciate your spreading the word about my work to your connections across the country.

      Yesterday the Rochester Post-Bulletin gave Minnesota Prairie Roots a plug, adding to the list of other Minnesota media outlets that have praised or picked up my posts– Minnesota Public Radio (News Cut and Blog Box) and MinnPost (Minnesota Blog Cabin).

      I am so grateful for the support, especially from my readers.

  13. kaylee Wolenetz Says:

    I was not sure where to contact you, so I’m not sure if this is an appropriate space. I am getting married in September to Joakim, who happens to be a resident of Norway. Originally the plan is to get married at the Hjemkomst center, in Moorhead, MN. Where they have the Stave church replica. Originally we were going to have a very small ceremony and a very large reception. While I was on google looking for Lutheran or rural Norwegian churches in Minnesota your work came up. I was wondering if you knew of any churches, preserved, vacant, or anything that would allow weddings that we are not members of. If you could help at all that would be wonderful.


    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Valley Grove Lutheran Church between Northfield and Nerstrand in Rice County would be the perfect setting for a September wedding. Many couples get married in the 1894 white clapboard church which is opened only on special occasions. It’s well-preserved and beautiful in its simplicity.

      Right across the churchyard sits an 1862 stone church, which bridal couples use as a reception hall. I don’t recall if it has a kitchen. Bathroom facilities, as I remember, are porta-potties.

      That said, this is an absolutely gorgeous setting in the autumn with prairie surrounding the wooded church grounds and groves of trees (including nearby Nerstrand Big Woods State Park) as a colorful backdrop.

      There’s plenty of room to set up a tent, if needed and allowed.

      Visit this website: valleygrovemn.com

      Also check out by blog posts about Valley Grove by typing “Valley Grove Church” into the search engine. This will give you a good feel, via words and photos, of this location.

      One final note: I would suggest checking into this church soon as it’s busy in the fall with weddings.

  14. Ervin J. Fahrenholtz Says:

    You article today is enlightening and I agree.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I’m not so sure how others will perceive what I concluded form the results of The Faribault Daily News opinion poll and my observations of attitudes toward minorities in our community. But I think it’s honest, even if we don’t like to admit it.

  15. […] area residents, check out “Flood updates from southern Minnesota” on Minnesota Prairie Roots by Audrey Kletscher Helbling Hammond’s damaged city hall is closed and has been moved to St. John’s Lutheran […]

  16. Meghan Says:

    I love your pictures you took of old barns along the road! So I just have to ask as I am having difficultly finding the “perfect” place for a price I can afford…My fiancé and I are getting married next summer and we both consider ourselves old souls and feel like a barn situated on a meadow or prairie is the atmosphere we are going for for our day….any suggestions on where we could look or who we could get in contact with who would be willing to talk to us? Thank you!! 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Meghan, I’m sorry, but I don’t know of any barns specifically that host weddings and/or wedding receptions. Readers, any suggestions?

  17. Sheila Morris Says:

    Loved your writing about Janesville, MN. You must attend their Hee-Haw Show next time it’s scheduled. It’s so much fun. This town is full of musical and comic talent! The best B & B around is Fenelon Place located two blocks north of Hwy 14 on Mott. And I’ve been in the attic with the little doll in the window . . .

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Glad you enjoyed my little photo tour of Janesville. I have more images to post sometime.

      That Hee-Haw Show sounds like a must-attend. When and where is it held?

      I’ll need to look for that B & B also.

      And as for the doll in the attic window, can you spill the beans about the truth behind the doll’s placement there? Or might you finagle an invitation for me to speak with the homeowner? I thought about knocking on the door when we were there, but…

  18. Jana Bouma Says:

    I was delighted to come across your entry about the Mankato sidewalk poetry project. I’m a member of the Southern MN Poets Society, which coordinated that project. We’re a diverse group of poets–from novices to successfully published poets–who meet in Mankato for programs about poetry and for readings. I would be delighted to add you to our e-mailing list for our monthly newsletter!

  19. Thank you so much from everyone at Ingebretsens’ for your wonderful blog post on our store in Stockholm, Wisconsin! Your photography glowed; it was just exceptional.

    If you have a chance, please join us at our Minneapolis store on November 26 from noon to 4. It is our 90th anniversary celebration and we will be having lots of cake (a whole cake buffet, actually) and a puppet show. We’d love to see your there. http://www.ingebretsens.com/events/anniversary-events.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you for your most kind words regarding my photos. The lighting and setting were ideal for some pretty sweet shots.

      My husband and I totally enjoyed Stockholm, but simply did not allow enough time to explore every shop we wished we could have. That means a return trip sometime. I have at least one other post coming from Stockholm.

      Thank you for the invitation to attend your anniversary celebration. But my second daughter will be home from eastern Wisconsin that weekend and my time will be spent with her. I hope you have a delightful celebration.

  20. too funny… was directed to your website via Ingebretson’s FB post today and thought your photos reminded me so much of my childhood. Of course they did… when I read your “about” I discovered we grew up only seven miles from each other (Lucan) and I too wrote for Rabbit Tracks at one time in my life 🙂 I recognized your maiden name right away.

    you do a wonderful job of capturing out-state Minnesota. Thanks for doing it justice!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you. I try to do my best in representing “outstate” Minnesota, and sometimes Wisconsin.

      I recognize the Plaetz name, certainly. What year did you graduate from WHS? I’m a 1974 grad. Dare I write that? It seems so long ago.

  21. Sara Koepke Says:

    Hi Audrey! I’m writing an article on prairie churches and I was wondering if you know of any organization in MN that does preserve churches that are vanishing from the rural landscape. I look forward to your response! Also, I love your blog!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Sara, I don’t know of a specific organization that focuses on saving prairie churches here in Minnesota. It seems to me that this is an effort of individual congregations. In southeastern Minnesota, near my Faribault home, there are several examples of country churches which have been preserved thanks to the formation of preservation groups:

      Valley Grove near Nerstrand
      Christdala Evangelical Swedish Lutheran Church near Millersburg
      Trondjem Lutheran Church near Lonsdale

      I’ve featured all on my blog and all have websites with contact information if you wish to follow-up with any of these.

      Readers, do you know of a single Minnesota organization dedicated to preserving prairie churches in our state? If so, submit a comment.

      Sara, you might also contact photographer Doug Ohman, who published the book Churches of Minnesota.

  22. Jana Bouma Says:

    I don’t know of a preservation organization, but I do know that the LeSueur County Pioneer Power association recently moved an old church to their grounds. I don’t know which church it is.

  23. Kathy Farmer Says:

    Hello Audrey – I found your blog looking for the image of a milk weed pod bursting. There were many returned in my search, but yours was great. I am on the board of a small non-profit in Belle Plaine and I would love to include your photo in our newsletter, with your permission. We would be happy to give you a tag line credit. Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks, Kathy. It’s always interesting how readers find my blog. Welcome to Minnesota Prairie Roots.

      I’ve e-mailed you regarding photo usage. Thanks for inquiring.

  24. […] Audrey from Minnesota Prairie Roots passionately loves the little towns that surround her and takes her camera along.  She is a writer. She is always informative and kind. She is another one who is unstintingly generous with her helpful comments. […]

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you so much, C. I am honored to have received this blogging award from you.

      Readers, please check out “The Kitchens Garden” for the excellent storytelling and photos from rural Illinois.

  25. Brad Gimmestad Says:


    Have been regulary checking into your website since the Vesta/Belview tornado. I am a native of Belview..now live near Atlanta, GA. Wanted to let you know that the city of Belview is holding a city celebration to honor all that helped in the recovery from the tornado. It is going to be in the Odean hall on July 1st. Check out details at http://www.belview.org in the Belview Bulletin section. The Parkview Nursing Home has just re-opened. The small-town integrety is remarkable..I know this is nothing new to you! The town is having a 125th celebration in September. I think you know Lori Ryder. A great asset to the town.

    Brad Gimmestad

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Brad, thanks for tipping me off to this celebration in Belview. I knew the community was celebrating its 125th this year, but was unaware of details. This small Minnesota town continues to impress me.

  26. Terri Birnbaum Says:

    HI Audrey,

    I’d love to publish one of your photos with a story I’m working on. Is that possible?

  27. Matt Steele Says:

    I like the photography and writing on the blog. Do you ever photograph weddings? if so, shoot me an email.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you, Matt. Yes, I’ve shot four or five weddings, all for family. But I’m not interested in photographing weddings beyond that scope. Thank you for asking, though.

  28. Earle Kyle Says:

    Love your story and pictures on the Oak Center General Store. I pass by it often driving up from Rochester to take pictures at lake City. Now I know what it looks like inside that place.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      By all means, stop at the Oak Center General Store. I just could not believe this treasure of a place. I’d like to return and rephotograph it as I was going through a phase where I photographed scenes off-kilter. Don’t like that so much any more. Plus, there’s lots more to photograph. Thanks for stopping by Minnesota Prairie Roots.

  29. Earle Kyle Says:

    I definitely will stop in to look around the next time I’m up that way. Your pictures of the place reminds me of the stories my dad would tell of his dad’s general store in Claiborne, Alabama.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I’m always happy to remind readers of something delightful, in your instance, your dad’s stories.

  30. jmattocks7@gmail.com Says:

    Hi, my name is Jeremy from St. Peter, MN. I recently found a spear head near New Ulm in a stream that leads into the Cottonwood River. It appears to be very old and I believe it is pretty significant. It is tapered to a point, has striations and what appears to be a blood stain on it. I wanna find out more about it and pass it on to someone in the area I found it if possible. I was wondering if anyone could tell me where I could get it checked out?

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      My first thought would be to take the spear head to the Brown County Historical Society in New Ulm. But I don’t know if they would look at it. Readers, any suggestions for Jeremy?

  31. Hi Audrey, I enjoyed your article about Lake City since I know Steve Swan and his connection with natural pearls from Pepin Lake. I was surprised to learn you are from Vesta as I am from Echo. I now live in Muscatine, Iowa, which you also mentioned in your article. Small world. I also liked your article about the Sioux war of 1862. (My cousin owns the farm near the monument in Sioux Agency county and my childhood home is near there.) I’ve added a tidbit of your Lake City article with links to it on my website which is about natural pearls. I hope that is acceptable with you. See: http://www.karipearls.com/natural-pearl-jewelry-in-lake-city-minnesota.html
    God bless! Kari (Ose) Anderson

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Kari, what a small world indeed. I expect you know some of my relatives who live in the Echo area, namely the Borning and Meier families. Do you still have family in the area and/or get back occasionally?

      I’m fine with you including a snippet of my Lake City story on your website and linking to the original post. Thank you for checking that it is OK with me. I appreciate that.

      • Hi Audrey, Both Eileen and Bev were in my class. I will be going back and forth quite a bit starting soon and into the fall. Maybe we could meet up. That would be nice.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Ah, Bev is my first cousin. I don’t know Eileen.

        Maybe I should have a meet-and-greet party. Quite a number of my readers would like to meet me. Glad to hear that you get back to the home area.

  32. Hi, Let me know if you plan that and maybe I could come. Thanks.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      My husband just laughed when I mentioned a meet-and-greet. He didn’t know I was serious. Someday maybe…

  33. Erin Says:

    I LOVE your blog, Audrey! I think we have a lot in common as far as photography, admiration for Amish (my husband would say fascination), and exploring MN. I’ve been told by many of my friends and family that I should start a blog about our travels, but I have really no idea how to begin. I’m not sure if writing is a strength of mine either but I do love to share our experiences with others. Any tips would be helpful. Keep up the great blog!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Erin, thank you for your kind words. Blogging, if you want to do it and do it well, requires much time and effort. For me, blogging is an extension of my background as a professional writer. I have a journalism degree with experience in the field, both in writing and photography.

      Blogging has become my passion, one which I would like to monetize. I have the readership and attention of noted Minnesota media outlets (MPR and MinnPost), but not the technical knowledge to move onto the next step.

      First and foremost, blog because you love it. I do.

      My tech savvy son helped me set up my blog and taught me the basic tech stuff. (He is away at college now and thus not available to help his mother.) Then I ran with it, slowly building my readership base, all the while staying true to myself and my roots and who I am as a person and writer. That approach seems to work.

      If you are passionate and honest, can write well and showcase your writing via equally good images, you can succeed in blog land.

      If you’d like, I can email you personally if you have additional questions.

  34. How you began life is the way I want to live out the rest of mine – far from the madding crowd. I’m looking forward to following your blog from now on. Regards Danny

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Welcome to Minnesota Prairie Roots, Danny. Happy to have you as a follower.

      I do miss the place of my youth, the prairie. Living along a busy street as I do now in a city of 23,000 just adds to that longing to return to the quiet of the country.

  35. […] About Audrey Kletscher Helbling  […]

  36. John Says:

    i recently discovered your blog and signed up to recieve updates. responded to the welcome message but wonder if that goes back to you. do you have an email address? i saw your coverage- and obvious devotion-to minn lutheran churches and want to invite you to see some of our beautiful catholic churches.
    the ones i have in mind are near dubuque, iowa.

    i live on a farm in southwest wi near the illinois state line. like your coverage of rural minn.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      John, I’m happy to have you as a reader of Minnesota Prairie Roots. Welcome. I’ve photographed Catholic churches, too, although certainly not as many as Lutheran. I’ve found there to be few Catholic country churches in Minnesota.

      You can find my email address by on my “About” page. Click on the upper right hand corner of my home page.

      I love Wisconsin and have really gotten to know the state better since our second daughter went to college in La Crosse and and had lived and worked in Appleton for the past three years.

  37. Seth Corder Says:

    I stumbled across your blog posts on a couple obituaries you read recently. One of which was my Father’s, Barry Eugene Corder. I wanted to thank you for your words and appreciation for the obit humor. It has been a very difficult time for us children, but knowing that even after his life hear on this earth had expired he was able to leave a positive impression on others, warms my soul and encourages me. May God Bless You!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you, Seth. It seems to me, after reading your comment, that you possess the same positive attitude that your father did. There is no greater honor for a parent than to see a child live a life of faith and gratitude. You and your family have my most heartfelt sympathies. Please know that you touched many lives by writing that obit in the way it was penned.

  38. dee bjork Says:

    Audrey, you do such a beautiful job with your writing. We wondered who did those beautiful floral arrangement outside of the Bachrach. I should have been a cop!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Dear Police Officer Dee,

      Thank you so much. I love to write, love to share my discoveries with readers.

      Yes, my fabulous and talented floral designer sister, Lanae Feser of Waseca Floral, created those beautiful florals in the urns outside the Bachrach building. I see they are already beginning to look faded. But that is to be expected given the exposure to the elements. It’s amazing, isn’t it, how something like the “right” floral design can enhance and beautify an already lovely historic building.

  39. Doris Says:

    We want to order subscriptions to Minnesota Prairie Roots. How do we do that?

  40. emeraldwake Says:

    Great blog,i am really happy i find you, not easy here on wordpress 🙂 Regards from Poland

  41. Mark Says:

    I enjoy your blog because I lived in southern Minnesota, in Faribault County for 18 years. I miss the people, the country, the old churches and the Red Jacket Trail in Mankato. I’ve been here 5 years now , your page gives me a taste of home. Does your family ever bike on those trails like the RJT or Sakatah hills?

    • Mark, it’s always delightful to hear from readers like you who appreciate Minnesota Prairie Roots because it takes you back “home” to Minnesota. I consider that quite a compliment. Thank you.

      Faribault is located in Rice County, as you note, along the Sakatah Singing Hills recreational trail. Decades ago, my husband and I rented a cabin along the trail and we would bike and walk a segment of it. But I haven’t since. I hope you still get back to Minnesota for the occasional visit. I cannot imagine living anywhere but here, except maybe in winter.

  42. Terry Says:

    Nice to meet you today at the Schoolhouse mall!

  43. Geri Says:

    so so glad I found this site! it is amazing! I love the Amish lifestyle and always want to learn more. This site is incredible!

  44. Lucas Says:

    I just happened to came across this link https://mnprairieroots.com/tag/rhody-yule/ while searching for info on one of my uncles. I really enjoyed the photos of Rhody’s paintings and the tidbits about his life. Rhody was my great uncle, brother to my grand father Roger Yule. I am the eldest son of Dennis Yule who was the youngest son of Roger. I never lived in MN so I do not know much about the history out there, other then the few things I have heard. I remember visiting Rhody in about 1987 I was about 11 yrs old. He made my dad a sign for our house that said “The Dennis’ Yules”. I knew Rhody’s sister Harriet painted but I did not Rhody did. Anyway thank you for the info on Rhody

    • You are welcome, Lucas. Rhody was an absolute treasure. I knew him only a few years, but the short time I knew him was a blessing. He was gentle of spirit and kind, so kind. Humble. A man of faith. And he loved to paint. He worked as a sign painter in the Faribault area. But, after hours, he painted for his joy.

  45. Amy Rea Says:

    Hey Audrey, wondered if you’re planning on attending the Crossings at Carnegie Poet-Artist Collaboration in a couple of weeks. I have a poem there! It would be fun to meet you.

  46. Kristine Hunter Says:

    Hi Audrey – I have an antique newspaper printing press and stamps available. I would love to see it put to good use. Do you know of anyone that would be interested in purchasing this?

  47. Hello Audrey,

    We met at this year’s Faribault International Festival, and you took a nice photo of me which you featured on this blog. Today, I decided to visit this blog again and read the “About” page. Your story of growing up in a rural home–including scooping manure–reminded me of my own childhood in southern Tanzania. The similarities are striking. The range of your activities and accomplishments is truly remarkable. I look forward to meeting you again at the Faribault International Festival or any other venue, now that I have a good sense of who you are. Thanks, and best wishes.

  48. scottphillipsotop Says:

    Hello I would like to know how to contact you to see if I can get permission to use a couple of your photos (with attribution of course) from your post on the Veseli hoe down? I am translating an article on the history of the town from 1886 right now. Thank you, Scott

  49. […] those who enter our town from any direction a “Minnesota Nice” welcome. My friend Audrey over at Minnesota Prairie Roots visited Albert Lea in October and has wonderful insight to share […]

  50. bigsursoap Says:

    Thanks so much for your wonderful blog. I would like to be in touch with Pam & Dan Larson who make the poplar crayons. Do you have contact info for them so that I may purchase some of these neat crayons? Thank you! ( :

  51. Dinah Sandlot Says:

    interest in origin of the Stevens-Nelson Paper company

    • An insert in the paper sample book I purchased at the estate sale lists the following address for The Stevens-Nelson Paper Corporation:
      109 East Thirty-First Street, New York 16, N.Y.
      Murray Hill 5-6170

      Cable address: JAPAPCO New York

      What’s your specific interest in this company?

  52. Wendy Says:

    Thank you so much for doing this. I grew up near Webster, but now live near Los Angeles and seeing your photos gave me warm fuzzies of the area I lived.

  53. Ruth Says:

    Wow, Audrey. Today I went to read your “about” page and your accomplishments are many. Just making time to get to know you better as I enjoy your posts and writing. All my houseguests/ family have gone back home so my house is quiet today. Time to catch up on blog reading.

  54. Maureen Gunderson Says:

    Thank you so much for for all the fun things you are posting on Montgomery and your article in Southern MN Scene. I am on the board of the Arts and Heritage Center and we have had so much fun with our Edward Curtis Exhibit! The attendance has been awesome in part thanks to you.
    My husband and I have lived in Montgomery for 42 years and raised our kids here. Montgomery is a hidden secret I think except for Kolacky weekend but this is a great place for kids to grow up . It’s also a great road trip with all we have…. thanks for noticing and sharing!
    Maureen Gunderson
    The Arts and Heritage Center and the City of Montgomery Thanks you!

    • Maureen, thank you for taking the time to stop by with your appreciation of my work. I love Montgomery and have more photos and stories yet to share. I am thankful my story in Scene and my posts helped draw more visitors to your Edward Curtis photography exhibit. What a gem to host in your small town.

      I agree that Montgomery makes for a great road trip. I appreciate all you and other members of your community do to welcome visitors like me. I delight in sharing small towns like yours with others. Keep up the good work. You have an incredible community.

  55. Scott Maas Says:

    Hi,my name is scott alan maas,great grandson of Carl e Noble, I just wanted to thank you for your written piece on that of my Great grandfather’s historic building and well,basically,his office (so to speak),if you have a fondness for more history,try and find out about his first marriage and who she was and who or whom and how our family was able to have a new and fresh start in the united states,she his first wife, from what my grandmother claudette told me,is of Armenian descent,her father was abducted by the Turkish army,he was a well established surgeon and the generals told him that they would send his children and wife to the united states to start fresh and begin a new life for them all if he helped with the doctoring of the Turkish army soldiers on the front lines,we know pretty much how the outcome of trying to take over Armenia, had come to be and Armenia still stands strong as a country to be wreckoned with,so I would find it interesting what information you could possibly unearth,and it was the war where turkey was using genocide.

  56. Brenda Rosin Says:

    Thanks for sharing the religious stained glass art from various churches I have not visited! As you know my home church also has some beautiful stained glass art restored by Sleepy Eye Stained Glass and Mike Mason. We have a couple small pieces crafted by a member that came from some of the leftover windows when the new church was built. We also have a rather unique piece of stained glass in the sunroom we built onto our home about 7 years ago. It is a 6 ft diameter backlit stained glass pheasant that was originally made for a carpenters union to put in the entry of their offices in the Cities. It was made by a union carpenter that lived near Cambria & who also dabbled in stained glass during his time off in the winter along with the help of Mike Mason. When he moved to the cities to be closer to his family we saw the auction bill and 6 ft stained glass pheasant caught my eye!! We went to the open house and checked it out! We ended up buying it for a small fraction of what he was paid to make it! It now hangs above the fireplace in the sunroom and we enjoy lighting it up! I can send you a picture – but the easiest way for me is by text if you want to send me your number. I think you’ll enjoy seeing it!
    Brenda (Hulke) Rosin

  57. Rhonda Says:

    I just saw the latest blog and was pleasantly surprised to see pictures of my husband and grandson. They are Tractor Crazy! (Rice co steam and gas power show). Great pictures

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