Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another view of the U's solar car.

Another view of the U’s solar car.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A buick

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

A 1977

Another Iowa car: a 1977 Olds Cutlass Supreme

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

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

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

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

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

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

That would be a Mercedes.

That would be a Mercedes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hood ornaments always interest me for their artsy beauty.

Hood ornaments always interest me for their artsy beauty.

Volkswagons always

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

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

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

That's a chopped Model A, left.

That’s a chopped Model A, left.

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

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

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

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

I love the hue of this unidentified vintage car.

I love the hue of this unidentified vintage car.

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

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

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

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

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

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

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

 

Art, history and community meld at Faribault car cruise-in August 22, 2011

I CAN’T DIFFERENTIATE a Ford from a Chevy. But I can distinguish a Mustang from a Cadillac.

You needn’t know cars, however, to appreciate a car cruise-in like the one I attended Friday evening in the 400 block of Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault. The monthly cruises are new to my community and, if I’m correct, Friday’s show marked the first this summer that hasn’t been rained out.

Downtown Faribault Car Cruise Night, looking southeast on Central Avenue.

Just several of the many vintage vehicles, these parked by a Mexican store and bakery.

For me, a car cruise-in is all about art, history, community and having a good time. However, for my automotive machinist husband, the one who got me interested in these shows, it would be mostly about the cars or trucks. He’s my go-to guy whenever I question the make, model or year of any vehicle on display, which is often.

While he’s more interested in what’s under the hood or in the overall design, I appreciate the hood ornaments, wheel covers, taillights, the curve of metal—the details that, to me, represent, mini artscapes.

I switched this photo to black-and-white to show off the hood ornament, a work of art.

A 1948 Dodge sported this artsy license plate.

Call this art, or humor, Ron Lehnen posed this "Halloween Rat" under the hood of his 1970 Chevrolet pick-up truck with the "rat motor."

On Friday, in Faribault, I also appreciated the art of neon lights flashing in storefront windows, the slant of sun against brick during that magical hour around sunset, and clouds that painted the sky on a perfect summer evening of temps in the low to mid 70s.

The setting sun cast a lovely light on the historic Hotel Faribault.

Merchandise and flashing neon lights created a colorful visual at a Mexican store in the car cruise block.

Toss in period tunes and music by the likes of Johnny Cash, my favorite country western singer, played on-site by local radio station Power 96, and the mood was set for hanging out and chatting it up with folks I hadn’t seen in awhile.

Car cruise attendees visited with one another, creating a sense of community.

Aaron shows his 6-year-old daughter, Lexi, the interior of a vintage car.

Ted told me about his new grandson, Jaxson. Kathy told me about the need for rain in the Courtland area, where my maternal roots lie and where her husband had traveled that day to farm with his brother. Lowell told me about the $8.99 steak dinner he’d just enjoyed down the street at the Signature Bar and Grill.

Food was the only item missing from cruise night, although I could have stepped into the Mexican bakery or walked to a restaurant along Central Avenue if I had really wanted something to eat. Maybe, eventually, organizers will encourage places like the bakery or nearby restaurants to set up food stands outside their businesses.

The next Downtown Faribault Car Cruise Night is set for 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. Friday, September 16. However, I’d advise coming well before 10 p.m. as the event pretty much ended around 9 p.m.

The 1970 Chevrolet pick-up with the rat motor. My husband owned an orange truck like his, only a year newer or older, I can't recall which. A steer wandered onto a roadway. He hit it and that was the end of his pick-up truck, many years before I met him. So I've only heard the story...never seen the truck.

Lowell and Deb Melchert leave the cruise in their 1947 Chevrolet as the event winds down.

YOU MIGHT ALSO CHECK out Woody’s Hump Day Cruise In on Wednesday evenings in downtown West Concord. Two remain, including one this Wednesday, August 24, and also on September 7. That cruise-in runs from 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m., or until dark.

Hastings also hosts the Historic Hastings Saturday Night Cruise-in from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. with the remaining events set for September 3 and 17 and October 1.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling