Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Minnesota Prairie Roots needs your nomination July 11, 2015

Best of Southern MN 2015 logo

ONCE AGAIN, I INVITE YOU to nominate Minnesota Prairie Roots as the best local blog in southern Minnesota, this time for 2015. But nominate my blog only if you consider me worthy of the honor bestowed by SouthernMinn Scene, a regional arts/entertainment/lifestyle magazine.


Minnesota Prairie Roots has been voted the best in southern Minnesota.

Minnesota Prairie Roots was voted the best local blog in southern Minnesota in 2014.


Last year, because of your support, my blog was chosen as the best in southern Minnesota. Thank you.

To nominate Minnesota Prairie Roots, click here to reach the miscellaneous section of the ballot and scroll to the bottom. You are allowed one nomination per category per email address. You can vote for lots of other southern Minnesota favorites, too. Nomination deadline is July 31.

Top nominees will then move on to the official ballot with voting beginning August 3.

Thank you for your consideration and for reading Minnesota Prairie Roots. I am grateful.


Looking for the best of the best in Southern Minnesota June 24, 2014

southern minnesota scene best of logoWHAT DO YOU LOVE about Southern Minnesota?

Now Southern Minn Scene, a regional arts publication/entertainment guide, is once again opening up nominations for the best restaurants, bars, music, theater, art, sports/outdoors, retail/services and miscellaneous offerings in our area of the state for 2014.

Who has the best fish fry or catering or BBQ in Southern Minnesota?

Where can you find the best Bloody Marys or happy hour?

Which music festival is a must-attend?

Who’s the best visual artist?

What would you rate as the best campground, sledding hill (yeah, I know, who wants to think winter) or bait/tackle shop?

What’s your go-to antique store?

And, finally, in the miscellaneous category, you can nominate “best ofs” like the best farmer’s market, best place to watch people and best blog/blogger (ahem, maybe Minnesota Prairie Roots).

From now through July 27, you can submit your choices. The top three to five nominees in each category will then be announced as finalists around August 1. Thereafter you will have until Labor Day to vote for the winner.

Simple and fun. And a great way to honor all the great people and places and things of Southern Minnesota.

Click here to begin the process of nominating your favorites in Southern Minnesota.


I’ve gained Freshly Pressed status on WordPress for the second time June 12, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:44 PM
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WordPress likes me. Or at least this online content management system and host site for Minnesota Prairie Roots likes my writing and photography enough to once again feature my work in Freshly Pressed. My writing was last highlighted on the WordPress homepage in July of 2010.

The photo from my Soap Box Derby post featured on the WordPress homepage in Freshly Pressed on Tuesday.

Today my post, “Testing the track during a Soap Box Derby trial run in Faribault,” was selected as one of the 11 best WordPress blog posts in the world. The whole big wide world, folks.

Yes, I am thrilled to have my post on the WordPress home page, chosen from among 834,622 new posts written by 401,667 bloggers. Those stats were as of 2:15 p.m. Tuesday when I took this screen shot:

A screen shot of the Tuesday, June 12, 2012, Freshly Pressed on the WordPress homepage. My post is featured in the bottom center.

“These (Freshly Pressed) posts represent how WordPress can be used to entertain, enlighten or inspire,” WordPress Weblog writer Joy Victory wrote in an April 28, 2010, post, “Five Ways to Get Featured in Freshly Pressed.” (Click here to read her post in its entirety.)

“It’s all about the content,” she says before listing five ways a WordPress blogger can increase his/her chance of making the homepage in Freshly Pressed:

  • Write unique content that’s free of bad stuff.
  • Include images or other visuals.
  • Add tags.
  • Aim for typo-free content.
  • Cap off your post with a compelling headline.

Check. Check. Check. Check. Check.

If you’ve followed Minnesota Prairie Roots for any length of time, you know that I adhere to all of those guidelines. But I’d like to add one more—write with passion.

When a writer writes for the pure joy of writing and takes photos for the pure joy of taking photos, it shows.

So what does making Freshly Pressed mean for me as a blogger? It equals a substantial increase in traffic to my site, recognition among my blogging peers, more subscribers and a confidence boost.

I don’t know the odds of making Freshly Pressed. I’ll leave that to the math whizzes out there to determine. I may be good with words, but I’m certainly not good with numbers.

Of one thing I’m certain, though. It feels good, absolutely fabulous in fact, to realize that my writing and photography are resonating with readers and that my posts (at least two of them) have been chosen as among the best in the world.

Moland Lutheran Church, a Norwegian Lutheran church south of Kenyon in Steele County, the subject of my post which was Freshly Pressed in July 2010.

FYI: To read the post “In praise of preserving country churches,” which was Freshly Pressed in July 2010, click here. Click here to see the post I wrote then about being Freshly Pressed.

To read “Testing the Track during a Soap Box Derby trial run in Faribault,” click here.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Minnesota Prairie Roots’ top 10 posts for 2010 December 31, 2010

WHAT WERE THE MOST-VIEWED Minnesota Prairie Roots posts during 2010?

Surprisingly, three of the posts which are in the top five this year were also in the top five last year.

But I’m going to keep you in suspense about those posts as we count down, beginning with the 10th most-viewed post in 2010.

10) “Inspired by Dr. Seuss: My sister’s fat cat,” a Dr. Seuss-type poem published along with three photos of my sister’s cat came in at number 10 with 392 views.

My sister's fat cat, Sable.

9) Whenever I write about old churches, I’m almost guaranteed that my readership that day will soar. So I was not surprised to learn that “Inside the 1894 Valley Grove Church” ranks as my ninth most popular post for 2010 with 411 views. In this story, I take readers inside the historic hilltop country church near Nerstrand.

Simplistic Norwegian style inside the 1894 Valley Grove Church, as viewed from the balcony.

8.) I have no idea why “Saturday ‘steals’ (deals)” held so much interest for Minnesota Prairie Roots readers. Maybe the 447 viewers who clicked on this story are avid garage-salers, just like me, looking for a deal.

The "new" Toshiba TV my husband got for free at a church rummage sale.

7) Like churches, barns bring lots of readers to Minnesota Prairie Roots. In “I love old barns,” I show readers the barn where I labored as a child—feeding cows, scooping manure, bedding straw and more. This post got 484 views.

The early 1950s barn on the Redwood County dairy farm where I grew up is no longer used.

6) When floods ravaged southern Minnesota this fall, I was there, photographing the disaster and interviewing survivors. My “Flooding in Faribault” post (among numerous flood stories) got 519 views.

A roadway arrow on flooded Second Avenue N.W. by the Faribault Foods office directs motorists into North Alexander Park.

5) “Henna tattoos and body art by a “gypsy woman,” which was the fourth most popular in 2009, fell a notch to fifth place in 2010. I still cannot figure out why this story about a henna tattoo artist at the Kenyon Rose Fest has drawn so much interest, with 530 views in 2010.

Henna art at the Kenyon Rose Fest

4) “An autumn drive in Rice County, Minnesota” attracted 549 views as I took readers on a Sunday afternoon drive through the countryside. Local tourism officials, take note. I’ve done my share to draw attention to the Faribault area.

A corn field ripens against a back drop of trees.

3) “Preserving the past at Immanuel, Courtland, MN.,” which was the most- read post last year, slipped to third in 2010 with 623 views. In this story, I take readers inside the home congregation of my maternal forefathers.

A view of Immanuel from the church balcony.

2) The second-place ranking of  “In praise of preserving country churches” does not surprise me as this post was featured on the homepage of WordPress.com on July 10. The Freshly Presssed selection garnered a record number of blog visitors, 1,052, on a single day. This post had 1,304 views in 2010.

An altar painting was transported to Moland Lutheran Church south of Kenyon by horse-drawn wagon from Faribault in 1893.

1) Finally. Number uno, the most viewed post during 2010 was written on November 5, 2009, following a presentation at Faribault High School. “Rachel’s Challenge: Start a chain reaction of kindness,” about the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, got 1,702 views. Last year, this was also one of my most popular stories, coming in at number five.

Rachel Scott, who died at Columbine, and the inspiration for Rachel's Challenge.

I wish I could explain the reasons behind the top 10 rankings. Some I can. I’ve noticed that certain topics—like churches and barns—really interest readers. But henna tattoos and fat cats? Figure that out.

IF YOU MISSED ANY of these most-viewed posts, click on the highlighted titles/words, which will link you to the stories.

DISCLAIMER: These are unscientific results given I simply pulled stats from my administrative page but did not factor in how long, for example, a post has been on Minnesota Prairie Roots. That can skew numbers. However, I am confident the above summary is fairly accurate.

CHECK BACK FOR MY PERSONAL favorite posts of the year.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling