Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Part III: A muddy mutt, not of the canine variety August 8, 2016

Car show, 78 message on trail truck

 

Get in. Sit down. Shut up and hang on!!!

 

Car show, 85 The Mutt close-up

 

The warning seems appropriate given the vehicle upon which the words are posted. I’d hang on, too, if I was strapped inside The Mutt.

 

Car show, 86 Shane's trail truck back of

 

Splattered with dried mud and sporting heavy duty traction tires and a framework of protective bars, Shane Hirschey’s custom made trail truck commands respect.

 

Car show, 83 Rochester Rough Riders decal

 

He’s clearly proud of this multi-pieced branded vehicle that takes him through muddy terrain as a member of the Rochester Rough Riders 4×4 Club.

Shane has participated in some of the events listed on the back of his club t-shirt.

Shane has participated in some of the events listed on the back of his club t-shirt.

On a recent Saturday, though, this 20-something drove The Mutt to a more pristine landscape—the parking lot of St. John’s United Church of Christ, Wheeling Township, for a Cruise-In Car Show. There I met this off-road enthusiast and talked to him about his truck.

 

Car show, 81 inside trail truck

 

I was most intrigued by the steering wheel propped between bucket seats rather than locked in place on the steering column. Since no key is needed to start the truck, Shane simply removes the steering wheel to keep The Mutt from being stolen.

After I got over that oddity, I commented on the mud layered inside and out. Shane quickly noted that he cleaned the truck before the show. Alright then.

 

Car show, 87 sign for Shane's truck

 

While this sort of motor vehicle sport holds no appeal to me, other than the photographic aspect, I recognize there’s strong interest among a certain sector. I wonder, did these off-road enthusiasts love splashing in mud puddles as kids?

BONUS PHOTO:

Not a mutt, but a rescue dog a woman brought to the car show.

Not a mutt, but a newly-adopted dog a woman brought to the car show.

FYI: Click here to read my first post from the St. John’s Cruise-In Car Show. And then click here to read my second post.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

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

 

The power of a boy & his Mercedes July 20, 2016

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Boy in his Mercedes, 70 close-up

 

HEADS SWIVELED AS THE FIRE engine red Mercedes turned onto Central Avenue.

 

Car Cruise Night, 71 boy in Mercedes

 

Behind the wheel, the young driver steered his luxury car around cones and navigated past rows of parked vehicles to the delight of an appreciative audience.

 

Boy in his Mercedes, 72 family following car

 

It was a sweet moment when the preschooler arrived at the July 15 Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night.

 

Boy in his Mercedes, 74 next to other cars

 

I was delighted to catch his arrival with my camera, to document this scene of cuteness, of family togetherness.

 

Boy in his Mercedes, 76 driving away

 

At a time when the world seems all too chaotic and violent, I found this scene reassuring.

 

Boy in his Mercedes, 78 father trailing car

 

On this Friday evening in Greater Minnesota, this little boy reminded me of the joys and goodness in everyday life. These are the moments I need to remember.

FYI: Check back tomorrow as I bring you one final post from the July 15 Car Cruise Night. Click here to read my first post in this three-part series.

© 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

 

Cruisin’ on Central on a Friday night in Faribault May 22, 2012

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Looking south on Central Avenue during the Faribault Car Cruise Night on Friday.

BY THE TIME my husband and I arrived at the first Faribault Car Cruise Night of the season around 9 p.m. Friday, the last remnants of daylight were morphing into a beautiful inky blue sky of darkness.

Illuminated business signs and lighted storefront windows and the flickering motion of a big screen television in a second floor apartment and the spotlight of streetlights provided enough light to view the few remaining vehicles and to snap a few photos.

Music rocked the 400 and 500 blocks of Central Avenue, and beyond, as we wandered.

Hanging out along Central Avenue during Faribault Car Cruise Night.

Love the colors: the green against blue.

While we’d missed most of the cars and most of the crowd and the poker walk, I didn’t particularly care. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate events like this and checking out all the classic cars and trucks. But on this night, my focus was on the deep, rich shades of that inky blue sky.

The dreamsicle car, Peachy, a 1955 Chevy.

Seriously, do you not love that peachy pastel Chevy contrasting with the blue sky?

The contrast of light and dark, of vivid lime green and creamy dreamsicle orange against that bold blue spoke to the artist in me.

Then, as I shot my final photos, headlights shone like beacons and red taillights blurred as, one by one, the last of the vintage antique and collectible cars slipped into the dark of a balmy and windy evening that felt more like summer than spring in Minnesota.

In a blur of taillights, a vintage car exits Central Avenue.

FYI: Faribault Car Cruise Night is held from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. on the third Friday of the month, May – September, in the 400 and 500 blocks of Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault. I’d advise arriving well before 9 p.m. if you’re more interested in the vehicles than in the darkening sky.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling