SATURDAY MORNING FOUND ME wandering among vendors at the Rice County Historical Society Fall Flea Market in Faribault. It was, as always, an enjoyable event, marked by conversations with friends I haven’t seen in awhile, conversations with vendors and reflecting on the past.
Really, this is what local gatherings are all about for me. They’re about community and connecting, about embracing and appreciating this place I call home.
I was especially delighted to find, among all the vendors of miscellaneous merchandise, several artists. That includes Erin Sellner Honken of Erin’s Acre at Honken Farms. Erin creates with flowers she grows, tends, harvests and arranges into stunning bouquets for CSA subscriptions and special events. With an abundance of flowers right now, she decided to do a pop-up sale at the flea market featuring $10 dahlia mixed bouquets.
Just down the way by the historic schoolhouse, I discovered Jeremy of JS Woodcrafts. It was his “river” table which drew my attention and admiration. If I could afford the $500 price tag, this maple top table with stones and pebbles epoxied in the middle like a river, would be mine. Love, love, love this work of art.
John “Spanky” St. Clair of Spanky’s Woodshed also specializes in woodcrafting. I learned that he uses pallets and aged barn wood to create. Anyone who recycles to create earns my praise.
I found more art in spoon flowers, in a Louie Armstrong figure, in paint-by-number paintings, in an endless array of merchandise.
And while I walked I heard music rising from A Fun Lil’ Band in Rice County with a sign declaring WE JUST LOVE TO PLAY MUSIC!! Their music added an extra touch of joy to the morning market.
This event is a fundraiser for the Rice County Historical Society. But history is also very much a part of the market in aged and vintage merchandise vended. I reminisced over old farm toys, a baby stroller, a yellow Pyrex mixing bowl. I picked up a few items, pondering whether I should buy, but, in the end, held steady in my determination not to acquire more stuff. I’m at that age…
Instead, I collect with my camera, gathering images to tell a story, to share this market, to showcase the works of creatives, to express my appreciation for my community, this place I’ve called home for 40 years.
I attended the show in rural Dundas on Friday. While most attendees focus on the field of tractors, the multiple ag-related demonstrations, the flea market and more, I also focus on creative details within the all of it. Like hand-lettered signage, handcrafted items, music, and, yes, even the couple dancing to bluegrass tunes performed by Steam Machine.
The arts, whether literary, visual or performing, enhance our lives, bringing joy, comfort, diversion, entertainment, introspection and much more.
I value the talents of those who create. I create with words and with my camera. Put a paintbrush or crochet hook in my hand and I would be hard-pressed to make anything worthy of notice. But, gosh, do I admire creatives like Kay Dudley of Faribault who brought her crocheted animals to the flea market. Likewise, I admire the skill of the woodworker who built the sturdy yard chairs for sale.
On the other end of the show grounds, I found more to appreciate in the 1912 farmhouse. Embroidered linens displayed in the kitchen caught my eye. I know how to embroider, although decades have passed since I picked up a needle, embroidery floss and a hoop to stitch a design into cloth. I really ought to resume that craft.
In another room of the farmhouse, a doll laid upon a quilt, reminding me of my paternal grandmother who stitched endless quilts for her family, me included. I was quite the seamstress as a teen, sewing many of my clothes and dresses for Grandma, too. She could quilt, but she couldn’t make her own clothes. I always found that interesting. I haven’t touched my sewing machine in years.
I was especially interested in the original painting of a rural schoolhouse scene propped on a table in the farmhouse. The vintage art, scored at a Goodwill store for $5, is exactly the type of art I collect.
In my collection is a North Dakota threshing scene painted by my father-in-law and among my most treasured pieces of original art. So when I saw a hand-carved threshing scene displayed in the music building at the Rice County Steam and Gas Engines Show, I was reminded of Tom’s painting. I display it this time of year atop the entertainment center in my living room.
Original paintings and other original art, including signs, always draw my appreciation. There’s just something about a handcrafted sign that makes me pause, take notice, remember. From signage on tractors to signage on buildings to signage among the food vendors, I noticed the creativity.
Every piece of art I spotted added to my enjoyment of this southern Minnesota farm-themed show. Certainly I value the ag and history aspects of this event. But I value, too, the creativity.
BARELY INSIDE THE GATES of the Rice County Steam & Gas Engines Show mid Friday morning, I boarded a train. It was an unexpected ride, this double loop around the tracks while straddling a slightly swaying model train car. I thought these free train rides were only for kids. Not so, the crew assured me.
When I disembarked, a preschooler sandwiched between two adults for his turn on the rails.
What a fun way to begin my four hours at the show, which continues through Sunday at the event grounds south of Dundas, which is south of Northfield. This 47th annual gathering is about “Preserving a Bit of Yesterday for Tomorrow.” And that’s exactly what you will find here. Old. Aged. Vintage. Snapshots into the past. Farming as it was done back in the day. Agriculture/farming/rural life center the show.
Vintage tractors are the focus with a field of tractors on display. This year’s featured brand is Massey-Harris. But brands ranging from the well-known John Deere, Allis Chalmers, International Harvester…to the rare Gambles line the grassy grounds.
Other farm machinery is also on-site, including a threshing machine, typically threshing oats, but under repair during my visit.
There’s simply so much to see here, so much equipment to take in, so many demonstrations to watch. I observed blacksmithing and sorghum pressing. There’s also syrup making, corn shelling, flour milling, lumber sawing… Not all were up and running yet Friday morning.
While demonstrations are a major draw, so are the aged farm buildings moved onto the grounds. Inside the 1912 Drentlaw farmhouse, my friend Ruth served cookies made with sorghum.
Across the way, two men fed sorghum stalks into a press, liquid streaming into a bucket.
As I walked upon the wood floors of the farmhouse, I felt immersed in the past. A wood-burning stove anchors the small kitchen where a water dipper rests in an enamelware bowl in the sink. Embroidered dish towels drape a drying rack.
In the dining room, with fine china set upon a lace-covered table, the morning breeze billowed lace curtains.
Outside the main house sits a summer kitchen with a corn crib and granary nearby. Replicating a farm site of yesteryear seems a goal. As a farm girl, I appreciate these efforts to preserve a bit of yesterday. Our Minnesota agrarian history needs to be shared at events like this which connect all ages to a way of life that is quickly vanishing.
Even the flea market connects attendees to the past where old stuff mixes with crafts and an assortment of other merchandise. Every time here, I challenge myself to find oddities, weird whatever that makes me do a double take. This year’s vendors did not disappoint me.
Nor did the food. Vendors offer an assortment of tasty food and beverages ranging from burgers and fries to Mexican food, milkshakes, lemonade, kettle corn, mini donuts and more. It’s all about food and conversation and watching the daily tractor parade at noon while seated at a picnic table in the Food Pavilion.
Over in the poleshed style music building, I listened to the bluegrass band Steam Machine. A couple danced across the cement floor, nearby hay racks piled with oats bundles. I photographed, then attempted to cool down after too much time in the heat and humidity.
I love how so many people care about our agricultural history. That includes the guys from the Credit River Antique Tractor Club who were selling raffle tickets for a 1952 Ford 8N tractor. Their annual show is set for July 14-16, 2023, in rural New Prague.
The Rice County folks will be back, too, in 2023, “Preserving a Bit of Yesterday for Tomorrow.” There will be a tractor parade, a Kids Pedal Pull, demonstrations, tractors galore and, oh, so much more at the Labor Day weekend show. Even train rides…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Such nuances delight me, hold my interest, draw me to look closely. I notice stickers, license plates, messages to keep my hands off.
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.
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.
HERE WE GO AGAIN. Due to extreme cold temps, the first-ever Bonfire & Donut Hole Roast at an historic Minnesota country church grounds has been rescheduled for the second time.
The event at Valley Grove churches is, as of today (Thursday), slated for 2 – 4 pm Saturday, January 8. Weather forecasters predict a temp of around 30 degrees, much warmer than our recent weather. Saturday will also be warmer than the predicted three degrees on Sunday, the first rescheduled date.
If you attend the Saturday gathering in the parking lot of this rural Nerstrand hilltop setting, dress warm. Even 30 degrees can feel cold if the slightest wind blows and you’re not dressed properly. That includes wearing warm winter boots. Organizers also encourage guests to bring blankets, chairs and hot beverages. If you have snowshoes and want to walk the prairie, bring that footwear.
On bitterly cold January days like today I respect the hardiness of those early Norwegian settlers who endured much to make a new home in America, in rural Rice County. This morning when I shoveled snow from my driveway and sidewalk, I three times returned to the house to warm myself. Even wearing long johns under jeans, a heavy parka over my clothes, boots, a hat, mittens and a scarf wrapped around my neck and face, my fingers and toes began to numb. That’s a warning sign that, if ignored, could lead to frostbite.
So here I am, inside my cozy office, fleece throw tossed across my lap, thankful for the warmth of the overworked furnace. Thankful to have finished that shoveling in, according to the local radio station, a wind chill temp of -31 degrees. No wonder I felt cold.
When the Bonfire & Donut Hole Roast happens on Saturday, the temp will feel some 60 degrees warmer.
From a past car cruise on Central Avenue. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.
BACK IN THE 50s AND 60s, teens idled away time cruisin’ Main Streets. It was a thing then, when life was simpler, much less complicated. No COVID-19 to consider.
Fast forward decades later and cruisin’ is still a thing. Except it’s organized. And the drivers are mostly older and hold a deep appreciation for vehicles of the past, perhaps reliving the days of their youth.
Lovely old buildings in the 300 block of Central Avenue provided the backdrop for a past Faribault Car Cruise Night. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.
Tonight my southeastern Minnesota community hosts its monthly summertime Faribault Car Cruise Night. Participants will meet at the Faribault Middle School at 6 pm for a cruise which will take them around area lakes and then back to Faribault along Minnesota State Highway 60 and south down Central Avenue.
Cruise participants await the start of the cruise in the Buckham Memorial Library parking lot in May. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo May 2020.
This car cruise, typically a stationery event on Central Avenue where vehicles park and folks mingle, transitioned to an actual on-the-road event in May. That was due to COVID-19. The change proved a hit and drew a high number of participants, including motorcyclists. Even more, maybe double, are expected at this evening’s cruise. I hope organizers have social-distancing plans in place. I didn’t observe those at the May cruise.
Randy and I plan to watch the cruise, although we haven’t yet selected a place that will be aesthetically pleasing and uncrowded. Yes, even outdoors we are cautious about reducing our COVID-19 exposure risk.
Back in the day when I studied history, it was dull and boring and printed mostly as straight factual information in books. Dates and events and important people. Page after page after page with the occasional illustration or photo to break up the blocks of copy. Since I’m good at memorizing, I passed history classes with ease, but not with interest.
I haven’t cracked a history textbook in decades. But I presume they are a bit more interesting, perhaps in a storytelling, personalized way.
Lots of kids were running around the grounds in period attire or attending class inside the historic Pleasant Valley School. I was learning, too, as I wandered the museum grounds and observed reenactors portraying historical characters. I suspect I’m like most people who find this much more educational and entertaining than simply peering at historical items on display inside museum walls. Not that that doesn’t have value, too. It certainly does. I just prefer living history and am grateful our local historical society started this annual “A Night at the Museum.”
From 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. this Saturday, October 3, attendees can interact with costumed characters from Rice County’s past on the museum grounds at 1814 Northwest Second Avenue in Faribault, right next to the fairgrounds. New this year is a Flashlight Tour of Harvest and Heritage Halls at 6 p.m. There will also be horse-drawn wagon rides and food available around the fire pit. Click here for more information.
Maybe you’ll spot Kaylee and William there, pretending to be Katie and Jim.
Attendees sample chili at a business along Central Avenue during the 2011 Fall Festival. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.
At noon there’s a kiddie parade and a Chili Contest with businesses and others offering chili samples (for a fee) until 2 p.m. From 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., those interested can take the Spooky Basement Tour, a free event at the Paradise Center for the Arts. The PCA is also holding a costume sale. Kids can go trick-or-treating downtown from 1 – 3 p.m. Games for kids, pumpkin painting and a unicycle show are also among fest activities.
New to the downtown festival this year is Oktoberfest, celebrated from noon to 11 p.m. at Faribault’s new brewery, F-Town Brewing Company, just off Central Avenue. The event features food trucks, yard games, live music and, of course, beer.