Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Car show perspectives from downtown Faribault July 20, 2022

Randy tells me the unpainted condition is intentional, that this is “a thing.” (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

EVERY TIME I ATTEND a car show, like the Downtown Faribault Car Cruise Night last Friday evening, I discover new details that draw me in for a closer look. Often that means peering inside a vehicle. And often that means asking my automotive machinist husband for information. He’s knowledgeable about anything vehicle-related from under the hood to exterior to interior.

A beautiful vintage car interior. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

Because of Randy, I attended my first car show many years ago. Mostly I tagged along, expecting to be bored. But I wasn’t as I viewed the displayed cars and trucks through a creative, rather than an automotive, lens. That’s still my perspective.

Old and new vehicles parked outside Janna’s Market Grill, formerly Bernie’s Restaurant. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

Randy sees the whole of a vehicle, verbalizing how he wishes he still had his 64 Chevy, his first car. His mind is like a data bank of information on vehicle makes, models, years, original or not. It’s nice to have an automotive tour guide of sorts while meandering at a car show.

Dice are a popular adornment on vintage cars. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
Photographed through a car window, a footprint gas pedal. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
On the hood of a Cobra. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

My enthusiasm heightens when I spot something like a purple die atop a door lock or a footprint-shaped gas pedal. Randy noted some cars also had mini footprint dimmer switches. Who knew? Not me. And when I saw a Cobra emblem, he told me of their rarity.

The car show features a mix of vintage and newer vehicles. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

I appreciate his insights as we wind among the vehicles along three blocks of Faribault’s Central Avenue (we skipped the fourth block) on a lovely mid-July evening in southern Minnesota.

On the former bank building to the left, a ghost sign remains. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

Aged buildings flank the avenue, rising high, shadowing the street. I appreciate the architecture of these mostly well-kept buildings in this Historic District. I spot a ghost sign on the Security Bank building.

In the 300 block of Central Avenue, a sports car parks in front of the Paradise Center for the Arts. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
In the window of Good Day Coffee. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
Amazing how this windshield opens. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

At the Paradise Center for the Arts, marquee lights are visible in the dusk of day. Directly across the street, the neon of a Coffee sign glows in the window of Good Day Coffee. At 210 Central Avenue, two lights hang above double red doors. I notice them when Randy points to the open windshield of a car. Or maybe it was a truck. I don’t recall. But I’ve never seen anything like that—windshield hinging open.

I heeded this message, exercising extra caution while skirting this car. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
A car with a name, Tootie. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
I always spot interesting stickers on vehicle windows. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

Such nuances delight me, hold my interest, draw me to look closely. I notice stickers, license plates, messages to keep my hands off.

A mini model tops a car roof. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
Custom detailing on a Chevy. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
Sports cars join in the Car Cruise. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

Attending a car show is about so much more than looking at and admiring vehicles. It’s about viewing the whole from hood to trunk and everything in between, inside and out. It’s about appreciating those who own these vehicles and are willing to share them with the public. It’s about art and history, memories and stories, and if you have a personal tour guide like me, an opportunity to learn.

Cars evolve. So do communities. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

And it’s about community. A coming together. Appreciating each other and this place, Faribault. Sometimes I don’t think long-time residents value our city enough. We need to pause, look up, look around, reflect. See the beauty in the historic buildings and in the people who live here. Respect and celebrate those who call downtown home. Faribault is evolving, growing, changing. Just like the cars at Car Cruise Night.

FYI: Please click here to read my first post on the July 15 Car Cruise Night in Faribault. And please check back for one final post in this three-part series.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Cars, community & history come together along Central in downtown Faribault July 19, 2022

A lovely lavender car drew my interest against a backdrop of historic buildings in downtown Faribault. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

ON A JULY EVENING, as the descending sun shone along the tops of historic buildings in downtown Faribault, I paused to take in the scene before me.

Although signage indicated only registered vehicles could park along Central, other vehicles were parked there. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
Checking out the vehicles parked along four blocks of Central Avenue. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo July 2022)

Vehicles outside the Signature Bar & Grill, a popular downtown dining and drinking spot. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

Throngs of folks congregated around vehicles parked along Central Avenue during a monthly Friday Downtown Faribault Car Cruise Night.

Among the street-side food vendors, El Jefe, outside its downtown restaurant. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

Others visited in groups or stopped to purchase food from food trucks or from a downtown restaurant.

Faribault’s Car Cruise Nights continue to draw crowds to Central Avenue. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

I felt the energy, the pulse of people moving, of togetherness. I observed the mingling of cultures, of ages. I sensed a spirit of community which comes in a gathering of people on a lovely summer evening in southern Minnesota. It felt good to be part of this scene.

Vehicles began leaving as the car show wound down. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

I arrived close to 8 pm, nearing the end of an event which began hours earlier with a car cruise around area lakes. Yet, I still found plenty of cars, trucks and motorcycles to appreciate. Some old, others new.

I consider hood ornaments, whether original or added, to be works of art. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

My approach to Car Cruise Night is not defined by my interest in cars. Rather, it’s defined by art, by my photographic perspective. By my creativity.

I always peer inside vehicles to see what unusual things I’ll discover, here a Smurf theme. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
I always see lots of dice dangling inside vehicles. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
A quilt covers a seat in an old truck. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

I focus on details. Dice. Hood ornaments. Stickers. The gleam of wax-shined chrome. A Smurf. A patchwork quilt covering a truck seat. So much to take in.

A bold, jewel-toned truck drew my eye. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
Like a Dreamsicle. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

I appreciate, too, the colors. Some bold. Others as dreamy as a Dreamsicle.

Faribault’s downtown historic district is one of the largest in Minnesota. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
Banners identifying Faribault’s Historic District include a vintage photo. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
Flashback to yesteryear in this vintage vehicle. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

And then my eyes shift to the setting. Central Avenue, lined with aged buildings of extraordinary architecture, creates an historic feel, adding to the experience of Car Cruise Night. As I watched an open air vintage car head north along the avenue, it was easy to imagine bygone years.

Not all vehicles are old. These sports cars were part of the cruise, parked near Cardboard Vault. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

At street level, I see long-time businesses like the Signature Bar & Grill and Burkhartzmeyer Shoes and many new businesses like Good Day Coffee, El Jefe, Cardboard Vault and more, including the many shops opened by immigrants who now call Faribault home. Today’s diversity of ownership reminds me of yesteryear, when immigrants settled here, opened shoe and furniture factories, brewed beer, ran general stores, set up barber chairs and much more in a town settling and growing.

An historic building is reflected on the shiny chrome of a motorcycle parked along Central for Car Cruise Night. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

Faribault remains a place of settlement and growth. And a place where, on a Friday evening, I glimpse history in buildings and vehicles. I see, too, the essence of community in this cohesive coming together on a lovely summer evening in July.

FYI: Faribault’s next car show is scheduled for 6-9 PM Friday, August 12, during the Blue Collar BBQ Festival at Teepee Tonka Park on the east side along the Straight River.

Please check back for more photos from the July 15 Car Cruise Night I attended in historic downtown Faribault.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Take a (story) walk along Central in Faribault September 2, 2020


A page from Eric Carle’s book, From Head to Toe, photographed inside a StoryWalk display case.


“I can do it!” What an empowering statement, especially for young children. Those four words refrain in an installment of pages from the children’s picture book, From Head to Toe, now posted on street corners in the heart of historic downtown Faribault.


Posted next to Burkhartzmeyer Shoes and looking down a side street off Central.


I love this latest addition to my community as part of a StoryWalk® CENTRAL project coordinated locally by Buckham Memorial Library. The idea is rooted in Vermont and seems to be a trend right now in the library world. River Bend Nature Center in Faribault and the public library in neighboring Northfield are hosting similar story walks.


Looking north on Central Avenue, you can see one of the StoryWalk pages posted next to an historic-themed bench.


Last week one evening, Randy and I walked Central Avenue with our four-year-old granddaughter, viewing the colorful story crafted by noted author and illustrator Eric Carle. He is perhaps best-known for his children’s picture book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I’ve long been a fan of Carle’s creativity. He understands how to connect with the littlest of people through colorful illustrations and simple, repetitive and engaging language.


Historic Central Avenue provides the backdrop for StoryWalk CENTRAL.


Bold colors and strong shapes define Carle’s art.


The book engages.


It took Isabelle a bit to get into From Head to Toe. But when she observed Grandma and Grandpa wriggling their hips like crocodiles, bending their necks like giraffes and stomping their feet like elephants, she joined in. Carle’s book calls for the reader and listener to actively participate in the book by doing the actions associated with each animal. It’s a great way to get kids up and moving. Adults, too.


The thoughts behind StoryWalk.


And that, according to information posted on one of the 12 signs, is part of the motivation behind the interactive StoryWalk® concept. The book “combines early literacy learning, family engagement and physical activity.” And promotes brain growth and physical health through exercise.


The animals lead the action.


The book also highlights diversity in the different ethnicities of the children and in the different animals Carle has created in his story. I especially appreciate that in our diverse community of Faribault. Buckham Memorial Library Director Delane James echoes my thoughts, praising From Head to Toe as a book that “resonates with everybody in the community…anyone can enjoy it no matter who they are.” And that means even those who can’t read or whose native language is one other than English. Like me, she calls Carle’s book “empowering.”

There are plans for more, and longer, book installations, all funded by a federal grant and coordinated with multiple city departments, James says. She noted the joint efforts of library, economic development, engineering and public works staff in getting the first StoryWalk® CENTRAL in place. From Head to Toe will remain posted for several months. This will be an ongoing and evolving public art and literacy project with five years worth of books included in the funding. The library buys multiple copies of the featured books, then removes and laminates the pages for posting in the weather-proof display cases.


The 12th, and final, story board is located outside the entry to Buckham Memorial Library. This is looking north toward Central Avenue. The final board is designed to get kids and others inside the library, although the library is currently open by appointment only.


I appreciate, in this time of a global pandemic, a safe activity I can do with my granddaughter when she’s visiting. Only after we arrived home did Izzy share, “That’s Isaac’s favorite book.” That means we’ll be back on Central with her 20-month-old brother, wriggling our hips, bending our necks, stomping our feet and repeating, “I can do it!”


© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Walk, sit & then study Faribault’s history via educational benches August 1, 2020


“Faribault supports the military” themes a recently-installed bench.


SEVERAL DAYS AGO, I featured historic-themed benches recently installed in historic downtown Faribault. Well, more have been added to Central Avenue. And some I missed during my first walking tour. More are yet to come.

All 12-plus (I’ve lost count) highlight important aspects of my community’s history in images and words.


Alexander Faribault and the fur trade focus a bench on the north end of Central Avenue.


This depiction of Alexander Faribault trading with a Dakota trading partner stands in Faribault’s Heritage Park near the Straight River and site of Faribault’s trading post. Faribault artist Ivan Whillock created this sculpture which sits atop a fountain known as the Bea Duncan Memorial Fountain. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


The home of town founder Alexander Faribault, located just a block off Central Avenue. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2017.


One bench focuses on town founder, Alexander Faribault, and the local fur trade he began with the Dakota peoples. He was of French-Canadian and Dakota heritage. One of his fur trading posts eventually became the site for the town of Faribault.


Focus on downtown.


This mural on the corner of Minnesota State Highway 60 (Fourth Street) and Second Avenue, welcomes people to our historic downtown. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


A 1950s scene along Faribault’s Central Avenue is shown in this mural in our downtown district. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


Another bench shines a light on the core business area with Downtown: The Place to Be.


An historic photo of students and staff at the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind backs one bench.


Honoring a teacher and leader at the school for the blind.


Another bench highlights the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf.


Across the river on the east side of Faribault, sit the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind and the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf, schools still in operation and each getting their own benches along Central Avenue.


WASP Pilot Liz Strohfus, after whom the Faribault airport is named.


Finally, Faribault’s support of the military themes another bench that showcases WASP Pilot Liz Strohfus and Brigadier General Lewis Beebe, a veteran of WWI and WWII, a POW and more of notoriety.


The bench honoring the school for the deaf sits on the north end of Central Avenue.


There’s a lot of historic information to take in on these benches, a project coordinated by the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism and Faribault Main Street and supported by local businesses. My posts only summarize what you will discover on these locally-crafted park style benches that now enhance our downtown.


Here you see the fleur de lis symbol.


No detail is too small. On the bench ends, the branding symbol of Faribault—the fleur de lis—has been incorporated into the iron work. Depicting a lily, the symbol honors Faribault’s French roots.


Markers like this tag historic buildings throughout downtown Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


There’s so much to learn about my southeastern Minnesota community from these benches. I invite you to walk along Central Avenue, sit for a spell, shop, admire the historic buildings, enjoy the many historic murals in the downtown core. Faribault truly is an historic gem. In so many ways.


© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Honoring Faribault’s history in a functional, public way July 28, 2020

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This shows a portion of Central Avenue, in Faribault’s historic downtown. Historic-themed benches now grace street corners.


MY COMMUNITY OF FARIBAULT is proud of its rich history, reflected most noticeably in our downtown historic district of primarily well-kept aged buildings. It is one of the aspects I most love and appreciate about this southeastern Minnesota city where I’ve lived since 1982.


This bench, on the south end of Central Avenue, is themed “Central Avenue, Heart of the City.”



The Central Avenue focused bench features a photo of a parade welcoming home WW I veterans.


Now another dimension has been added to the downtown with the street corner placement of park style cast iron benches that feature stories and photos on local history. Functional, educational and lovely.


A bench on the corner of Central and Minnesota State Highway 60/Fourth Street highlights government in Faribault, the county seat of Rice County, Minnesota.


Diagonally across the street, a bench focuses on milling in Faribault.


A close-up on the milling bench shows a flour mill that once operated here.


Sunday morning Randy and I walked along Central Avenue, pausing at each bench to read the brief text and view the accompanying images.


The Tilt-A-Whirl amusement ride was invented in Faribault and themes one bench. Two refurbished vintage Tilt-A-Whirls located downtown also provide photo ops for locals and visitors.


Details on the Sellner Manufacturing/Tilt-A-Whirl bench.


The restored Tilt-A-Whirl and themed bench are located by Burkhartzmeyer Shoes, a third-general family-owned shoe store, which includes a repair shop.


A project of the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism and Faribault Main Street, the business-sponsored benches provide a quick lesson in Faribault’s history. I was curious to see what topics would be highlighted. None surprised me.


Peony farms are an important part of Faribault’s history.


Likewise, Farmer Seed & Nursery, a long-standing business icon now closed, focuses a bench.


The “Famous People of Faribault” themed bench includes Heisman Trophy winner Bruce Smith, Red Jackson and Marlo Brandon (who attended Shattuck-St. Mary’s School). The local athletic field is named after Smith.


From milling to manufacturing (of the Tilt-A-Whirl), from education to floriculture, from famous people to noted buildings and much more, Faribault’s history is well-covered. I noted, though, that the fur trade, brewing history and Women’s Air Force Service Pilot Liz Wall Strohfus (after whom our airport is named) missing. But benches are in the works for those.


A broader view of Central Avenue, where the benches are located. This one is of Bishop Henry Whipple and Shattuck-St. Mary’s School.


This bench honors Bishop Whipple, important in founding Shattuck-St. Mary’s School and construction of The Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour.


Thomas and Anna Buckham gifted a library to the city.


For anyone new to or visiting Faribault or even those who grew up here or have lived here for a long time (like me), I’d recommend a stroll along several blocks of Central Avenue to view these 12 benches. History is such an important part of a community in defining its identity. Past and present link. And sometimes it’s good to review that history, to understand and appreciate a place.


The restored Security State Bank clock is also an important part of Faribault’s preservation efforts.


This local graciously moved so we could look at the WPA bench.


Works Progress Administration projects in Faribault highlight this bench. Those include noted local landmarks like the Faribault waterworks, the viaduct and the Rice County Courthouse.


Parents, grandparents, educators, take the kids downtown Faribault for a walk and a quick history lesson. Along the way, notice businesses and how diverse our community.


Faribault’s newest mural, left, honors Bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple. The one to the right features the Faribault Pet Parade and was placed on the Central Park Bandshell several years ago. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


This banner hangs in downtown Faribault as part of a branding campaign defining areas of our city. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


Buckham Memorial Library. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


Reflect on the stories you read on these benches and perhaps plan additional side trips to take in places highlighted. Also seek out the many historically-themed murals in our downtown core.


The talented artisans bench honors Grace McKinstry,internationally-known portrait painter, and woodcarvers Ivan Whillock and Marvin Kaisersatt.


Quarrying of limestone was once a major industry in Faribault and is evidenced in the many historic limestone buildings..


The WPA bench sits outside the local pawn shop.


I am grateful to those in our community who continue to preserve and showcase Faribault’s past. This bench project is just another example of how history is valued locally. History is, and always will be, an important part of our identity.


Several benches are currently unadorned, awaiting final art.


And today, the people who live and work here continue to write history for future generations as Faribault grows and changes.



  • Local and regional businesses crafted the benches, including Jeff Jarvis of West Cedar Studio, Morristown, leading the art work; MRG Tool & Die, Faribault, crafting the steel seats; Mercury Minnesota, Faribault, painting and assembling, Alliant Castings, Winona, creating the bench ends; and Sakatah Carvers, Signs and Creations, Faribault, ordering and applying the decals.
  • The bench end design is based on a set of antique bench ends.
  • Faribault’s identifying brand symbol, the fleur de lis, is custom reverse engineered into the bench ends.
  • A ribbon cutting and history walk around the benches is planned once the project is completed.

Facts source: Kelly Nygaard, Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Updated at 7:40 am July 29, 2020


In the spirit of the holiday, I’m grateful for local businesses December 20, 2019

Urns filled with greenery add a holiday flair to the historic Bachrach building in downtown Faribault.


IF YOU’RE OLD SCHOOL—and that would be me—you appreciate homegrown brick-and-mortar businesses. These are the places that make our communities unique, the places that offer excellent customer service, the places that connect us as people, the places that boost our local economies.


Faribault Print Shop offers lots of options and promotes shopping local with the I GET IT! in Faribault campaign.


I can walk into the local hardware store to a greeting of “What can I help you find?” I can walk into a local third-generation family shoe store, be greeted by name, get my feet measured, shoes fitted. I can walk into a local gallery and chat it up with other creatives. People I know by name.


The only Grinch you will find in downtown Faribault is this painted one.


I love this about my community of Faribault. The interaction between business owners and customers. The feeling that I matter, as an individual as much as a potential customer.


In its window display this December, Heartman Insurance honors the Olympia Cafe, once housed in the firm’s building.


Historic buildings line Central Avenue in Faribault.


I love, too, the historic buildings that define our downtown and the care most property owners take in maintaining those structures.


At the Cheese Cave, windows promote the cheese sold inside, including bleu cheeses made and aged in Faribault.


Keepers Antique Shop always does an exceptional job with window displays, any time of the year.


On the antique shop door.


I love how, this time of year, businesses spread holiday cheer through creative window displays, encouraged by an annual competition.


An assortment of art in the front window of The Upper East Side Gallery.


Not everything here is perfect, of course. Nowhere is. There are vacant eyesore storefronts, negative attitudes still about immigrants who call downtown home (although that seems to be improving), perceived problems with parking…



But, overall, Faribault frames a positive image in a place I’ve called home for 37 years.

FYI: For another shop local option, check out the Solstice Market from 1 – 4 p.m. Saturday, December 21, at Keepsake Cidery, rural Dundas. Styled after outdoor European markets, the event will feature bonfires, grilling and 20-plus vendors from the Cannon Valley region vending their wares/food/creations inside a heated tent. The cidery is open from noon – 8 p.m.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Appreciating the art & architecture of a business block in historic downtown Faribault August 31, 2018

A side view of an artsy window display at Fleur de Lis Gallery.


STOREFRONT WINDOWS ARE LIKE A CANVAS, a creative space that can cause passersby to pause, then perhaps step inside a business. Or at a minimum, to value the visual efforts of a shopkeeper.


A full front view of that Fleur de Lis window art.


Historic buildings reflect in the front window of Ruf Acres Market, one of Faribault’s newest businesses. Ruf Acres won the 2017 Downtown Faribault Business Challenge to launch new businesses.


A colorful flier promotes Pawn MN.


During a brief walk in the 200 block of Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault on a recent Sunday afternoon, I discovered visual delights in window displays, splashes of color, wordage, architecture and more.


Nona has created this eye-catching Wash Day window displace at Keepers Antiques.


I appreciate the efforts of local shopkeepers to create window art that enhances our downtown.


In the window of Ruf Acres Market, egg cartons promote eggs from Graise Farm in rural Faribault.


Mallory of Grit & Grace uses a Rolling Stones quote to draw people into her new Faribault shop of merchandise and much more.


At The Upper East Side, Suzanne offers guests the option of painting totes and more. Love this artsy Faribault tote made at the sip and paint shop.


I appreciate those who value and promote local.


Ruf Acres signage highlights historic Faribault.


Markers like this tag historic buildings throughout downtown Faribault.


Historic architecture reflected in the window of a van.


I appreciate, too, those who long ago decided our historic buildings were worth saving. “You have a beautiful downtown,” a woman from Jackson noted to me as she and her friend explored Central Avenue while I shot photos. I welcomed them, invited them to return when shops are open.



I appreciate also the energy and enthusiasm of shopkeepers like Jessica at Fleur de Lis Gallery and Suzanne at The Upper East Side. Both possess a passion for art that adds to the growing art presence in my community.



A close-up of that Wash Day window display at Keepers Antiques with historic buildings reflected in the glass.


Fette Electronics is a long-time business in downtown Faribault.


From the Paradise Center for the Arts to local shops to new public art installations to historic murals, this southeastern Minnesota city is stretching its creativity and emerging as a place for the arts. For that I am grateful.


A section of the 200 block of Central Avenue in the business district of historic downtown Faribault.


It is through the lens of art—whether visual, literary or performing—that we see beauty in a place. And today that place is Faribault.


FYI: Check back for a close-up look at The Upper East Side, a paint and sip business and more.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


From Faribault: I’ve had it with winter April 15, 2018

Buckham Memorial Library in Faribault, photographed late Sunday afternoon as snow continued to fall in my southern Minnesota community. The storm began on Friday.


TO SAY THAT I’VE had it with winter in Minnesota would be an understatement. This weekend’s forever snowfall, which pushed us into the snowiest April on record, did it for me. I’ve officially had it with this endless cold and snow.


Light snow fell all day Sunday in Faribault as traffic drives here along Minnesota State Highway 60 in the downtown area.


I offer no apologies for my negative attitude. Because of this storm, I missed my granddaughter’s second birthday party. And, yes, that was enough to make me cry.


Thoughts of spring flash as I pass Farmer Seed and Nursery late Sunday afternoon. Spring planting seems a long ways off with about 14 inches of new snow on the ground.


How did I deal? I baked chocolate chip cookies and ate dark chocolate chips by the handfuls straight from the bag.


Mountains of snow edge parking lots at the Faribo West Mall.


That was after shoveling snow for the second time in less than 24 hours. Heavy, wet snow that took considerable heft to lift from the end of the driveway. Shoveling that left my back aching. It takes hours of effort to remove 12 – 14 inches of snow. Randy ran the snowblower. But there’s still a lot of shovel work. While I was shoveling snow, I should have been at Izzy’s birthday party, watching her open gifts and blow out two candles.


A side street just off Central Avenue in downtown Faribault remains partially snow covered.


Yes, I’m crabby. Maybe by tomorrow I’ll feel better.


The south end of Central Avenue as snow continues to fall late Sunday afternoon.


Maybe tomorrow the snow will stop and the sun will shine…before our next predicted snowfall arrives on Wednesday.


© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Another option for shopping local: the Faribault Winter Farmer’s Market December 15, 2016

Bluebird Cakery in historic downtown Faribault is decorated for the holidays.

Bluebird Cakery in historic downtown Faribault is decorated for the holidays.

UPDATE, 1:50 PM Friday: Because of the winter storm, the Faribault Winter Farmers’ Market will be closed on Saturday. Instead, the market will be open from noon to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, December 21.

LOCALLY-GROWN/MADE has been trending for awhile. Know what you’re buying. Know the source. Know the farmer, the craftsman, the artisan.

Downtown Faribault last Saturday afternoon, here looking south on Central Avenue.

Downtown Faribault last Saturday afternoon, here looking south on Central Avenue.

This time of year, especially, we’re encouraged to shop local.


In my community of Faribault, it’s easy to buy local, direct from the hands of those who raised or grew or crafted. And nowhere is that more grassroots possible than at the Faribault Winter Farmers’ Market.

The musicians' list of holiday songs and music.

The musicians’ list of holiday songs and music.

New to Faribault’s holiday shopping scene, the market fills the cozy lobby of the Paradise Center for the Arts, 321 Central Avenue, in our historic downtown. Vendors offer jams, breads, cupcakes, horseradish, apples, maple syrup, beef, soap and more. I dropped by last Saturday afternoon to check out the winter market, recognizing sellers from the summer market in Central Park.




The mood was festive with a duo performing holiday tunes in a side meeting room/mini gallery. In the main gallery and in the gift shop, local art was available for purchase as part of the arts center’s Holly Days.




With the market winding down for the day, vendors had time to visit and personally promote their offerings. I sampled mango jelly on a saltine cracker. Randy sampled apples and bought a bulging bag of juicy Pzazz, an open-pollinated Honeycrisp cross. We love this apple, unheard of by us until the purchase from Apple Creek Orchard. We talked horseradish making with another vendor.




Earlier that day we shopped local across the street at our favorite cheese shop, The Cheese Cave. There Randy bought a wheel of St. Pete’s Select blue cheese and a chunk of a special edition Smoked St. Mary’s Grass-Fed Gouda, both made and aged in Faribault caves.


Faribault's Central Avenue from Fourth Street south.

Faribault’s Central Avenue from Fourth Street south.


I am fortunate to live in a community where local is valued, where good folks tend and harvest crops, where the bounty of the earth and of hands is shared at the farmers’ market and beyond.

TELL ME: What can you find that is locally-grown/made in your community?

FYI: The Faribault Winter Farmers’ Market is open this Saturday, December 17, from 1 – 4 p.m.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbing


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