Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Free family fun at Zootopia on the RiverFront in Wabasha October 12, 2017

My first view of Zootopia on the RiverFront from the hill overlooking this play area along the Mississippi River in Wabasha.

 

ON AN EARLY OCTOBER Sunday in Wabasha, brilliant sunshine angled sharp shadows across the beaten grass of a riverside attraction teeming with kids and watchful adults.

 

 

 

 

 

The lion tunnel proved especially popular.

 

Here, while a young boy carried his tacklebox and fishing pole along a busy Mississippi River walkway, kids tossed rings, rolled balls, scrambled through a tunnel, zipped down a slide and more in a magical land. Here adults encouraged and interacted with the little ones and clicked endless photos.

 

 

 

 

My son-in-law, Marc, takes Izzy’s photo as she walks through the tiger tunnel while her mom (my daughter Amber) watches.

 

Walking on the colorful walrus crafted from tires…

 

My husband and I joined in on the SeptOberfest kids’ activities along with our 18-month-old granddaughter and her parents.

 

You can zip down this elephant slide into Zootopia on the RiverFront.

 

 

I discovered the play area after sighting an elephant slide behind Hill’s Hardware Hank. I walked the half-block to check it out and found the city of Zootopia. The good folks of Wabasha crafted a temporary themed play area after the movie of the mammal metropolis. What a delight for not only grandmas like me, but also for all those kids and other adults.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wabasha has always impressed me as a small town that knows how to bring visitors into the community. The addition of Zootopia on the RiverFront to this year’s nearly two-month long SeptOberfest just notched up my respect for the tourism, business and other leaders in this southeastern Minnesota town of some 2,500. These folks are smart enough to realize that bringing families into town equals an immediate financial return plus an investment in future returns. The kids’ activities are free. But the local economy benefits from monies dropped in restaurants, gas stations, and ice cream and other shops.

 

Randy waits for Izzy to emerge from the lion tunnel.

 

Running in the kick ball croquet area.

 

Even the big kids/aka grandpas can have fun.

 

Watching my 1 ½-year-old granddaughter crawl multiple times through the lion tunnel, place rings on elephant trunks, roll a ball in the kick ball croquet area and more simply made me happy. Even at her young age, Izzy could participate in most of the activities.

 

 

This Zootopia rated as just plain good old family fun—Wabasha style.

 

In the foreground, on the hillside, giraffes (and zebras) overlook Zootopia.

 

FYI: Zootopia on the RiverFront continues through October 21. Click here for more details.

Check back for two more posts on kids’ SeptOberfest activities in Wabasha.

This community is also home to the National Eagle Center, another family friendly place to visit.

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Celebrate autumn in Minnesota this weekend October 10, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:15 PM
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THERE’S MUCH TO LOVE about Autumn in Minnesota.

Stop at a roadside stand or a farmers' market for pumpkins, apples, squash and other Minnesota-grown produce. That's me at The Country Store of Pepin (Wisconsin) photographed earlier this week by my husband, Randy.

Stop at a roadside stand or a farmers’ market for pumpkins, apples, squash and other Minnesota-grown produce. That’s me relaxing at The Country Store of Pepin (Wisconsin) photographed earlier this week by my husband, Randy.

It’s the season of harvest and leaves crackling underfoot and piled pumpkins.

My meal at last year's Trinity dinner, minus the bread and cranberries. I had cake for dessert, too.

Trinity Lutheran Church, North Morristown, hosts its annual fall dinner and craft sale from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. this Sunday, October 12. It’s one of the best church dinners around, in my opinion. All of the food (some not shown here) is homemade. Cost is $10 for ages 13 and older; $5 for ages 6-12; and free for ages 5 and younger. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

It’s the season of church dinners.

Christine Henke serves chili, which I classified as "very spicy" at Glam Central Salon.

Faribault holds its annual downtown Fall Festival on Saturday, October 11, with a kids’ costume parade, kids’ activities, chili tasting (between 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.), gallery-on-the-go and a mystery dinner. Visit the Faribault Main Street website for more information. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

And festivals galore.

 

Just inside the entry to the Blue Earth County Fairgrounds.

The third annual Maker Fair Fall Festival runs from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturday, October 11, at the Blue Earth County Fairgrounds in Garden City. Handcrafted arts and food from nearly 100 south central Minnesota artisans will be featured along with music, kids’ activities and more. For more info, visit makerfair.org. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

It’s the season of shopping at craft sales in small towns and along country roads.

Fall colors are at their prime in some areas of Minnesota. This photo, taken on Thursday, shows the St. Croix River near Stillwater.

Fall colors are at their prime in some areas of Minnesota. This photo, taken on Thursday, shows the St. Croix River near Stillwater.

But most of all, it’s about taking the time to appreciate this season that brings a sharpness to our days, an awareness that we must savor every ray of sunshine, every moment outdoors. Take time this weekend to embrace Autumn before she exits and Winter walks through the door.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling