Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

From car to military shows & more, there’s plenty to do in Rice County this weekend May 18, 2017

A scene from the July 2016 Car Cruise Night. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.

 

INTERESTED IN VINTAGE CARS, flea markets, running for charity, gardening, military history, or comedy? If you are, check out activities in Rice County this weekend.

 

The U’s solar car at the August Car Cruise Night last summer. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.

 

Kicking off the weekend is Faribault Car Cruise Night slated for 6 pm. – 9 p.m. Friday along Central Avenue in the heart of historic downtown Faribault. The University of Minnesota solar vehicle is a special draw to this first of the summer cruise event. The car shows are held on the third Friday of the month from May through August.

 

An absolutely beautiful work of hood ornament art, in my opinion. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2014.

 

I’m a Car Cruise Night enthusiast. It’s a perfect time to mill around the downtown—appreciating the vehicles, the historic architecture and the people who attend. With camera in hand, I always find something new to photograph. Often, I view the artistic angle of the vintage vehicles. That interests me way more than what’s under the hood.

 

A Minnesota souvenir, an example of what you might find at a flea market. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

 

Saturday morning brings the Rice County Historical Society spring flea market from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the RCHS, 1814 N.W. Second Avenue in Faribault. One of my favorite activities is poking through treasures. As a bonus, the county museum will be open at no charge.

 

The Drag-On’s Car Club graphics, photographed through the window of a vintage car. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Right next door, at the Rice County Fairgrounds, the Faribo Drag-On’s Car Club hosts its annual Car/Truck Show and Automotive Swap Meet from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturday. The show includes pedal car races for the kids.

 

Edited image from Color Dash.

 

Also along Second Avenue Northwest, but at Alexander Park, Rice County Habitat for Humanity will benefit from a Color Dash 5K  sponsored by the Faribault Future’s class. On-site packet pick-up is at 9 a.m. followed by the race at 10 a.m.

 

Hosta will be among the plants sold at the GROWS plant sale. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

If you’re a gardener, you’ll want to shop the Faribault GROWS Garden Club perennial plant sale from 8 a.m. – noon in the Faribault Senior Center parking lot along Division Street. Sale proceeds will go toward purchase of trees for city parks and flowers for Central Park.

 

This piece of military equipment was exhibited last September when the Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall came to Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.

 

Military history is the focus of the 8th annual Armed Forces Day—Military Timeline Weekend gathering at the Rice County Steam & Gas Engines grounds just south of Dundas/Northfield on Minnesota State Highway 3. I’ve never been to this event, which recently moved to the Rice County location. For military history buffs, this presents a unique opportunity to learn and to view living history as re-enactors role play noted military battles and more. The event opens at 10 a.m., closing at 5 p.m. on Saturday and at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

 

The Looney Lutherans. Photo credit, The Looney Lutherans website, media section.

 

Wrapping up the weekend is “The Looney Lutherans” music and comedy show at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Paradise Center for the Arts, 321 Central Avenue North in downtown Faribault. I expect this trio of actresses will work their magic on even the most stoic among us. I could use some laughter.

Before or after the show, check out the gallery exhibits, including one by 13-year-old Mohamed Abdi, a young artist already exhibiting a passion and strong talent in art.

There you go. All of this is happening right here. Not in the Twin Cities. But here, in greater Minnesota. Let’s embrace the opportunities in our backyard. Right here in Rice County. And, if you don’t live within county lines, we’d love to have you here exploring our part of Minnesota.

FYI: If you plan to attend any of the above events, please check Facebook pages and websites for any possible changes due to the rainy weather and also for detailed info. With the Paradise show, check on ticket availability in advance.

For more events happening in Rice County, visit the Faribault and Northfield tourism websites.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Promoting Faribault March 10, 2017

A snippet of Faribault’s just-published 2017 tourism guide cover shows Faribault’s signature angled name graphic overlaid on a photo taken along Central Avenue.

 

NEARLY 35 YEARS AGO, I moved to Faribault, relocating to this southeastern Minnesota city after my May 1982 marriage. My husband had the more secure job in an area with more employment opportunities.

I’ve grown to love this community and its people. I can go almost anywhere in town and run into a friend or acquaintance. While Faribault, with a population of around 23,000 still seems big to me in comparison to my rural southwestern Minnesota hometown of under 400, I feel here the closeness of a small town. Paths cross at events and in churches, schools, grocery stores, shops, restaurants, parks and more. That creates a sense of community.

Among events fostering community closeness is the monthly May – August Car Cruise Night along Central Avenue in our historic downtown. The well-kept aged buildings in Faribault’s central commercial district are among our strongest assets and provide an ideal backdrop for car enthusiasts to gather.

For a blogger like me, Car Cruise Night presents an abundance of photographic opportunities. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with new and creative ways to photograph the car show, showcased many times on Minnesota Prairie Roots.

 

My July 2016 Car Cruise Night photo is the cover of the 2017 Faribault tourism guide.

 

Now my car shoots have extended beyond this space to tourism. A photo I shot at the July 2016 Car Cruise Night graces the cover of the just-released 2017 Visit Faribault Minnesota tourism guide published by the Faribault Daily News in collaboration with the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. I am delighted and honored to have my work chosen by a committee for this placement.

In a single photo, potential visitors get a snapshot of Faribault. In the backdrop architecture, they see the history and the care Faribault has taken to preserve historic buildings. In the people and cars, they see a fun event. In the green Faribault banner and lush, hanging flower basket, they see community pride.

 

My original photo from the July 2016 Car Cruise Night. The left side of this photo is printed on page 22 of the tourism guide in the section titled “Explore historic downtown.” Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

But there’s more to this photo than seen in the vertical tourism guide cover. I shot the image in a horizontal format, my view stretching along nearly the entire length of the 200 block (west side) of Central Avenue. The 1884 Fleckenstein building, beautifully renovated and restored by Faribault-based Restoration Services, Inc., anchors the image on the right. But just look at all those buildings beyond. I cannot say enough about how lovely the historic architecture in downtown Faribault.

Of course, Faribault is about much more, so much more. I’ve also had the opportunity recently to pen pieces on River Bend Nature Center and the historic murals in our downtown for the tourism website. I’m proud to promote Faribault, pronounced fair-uh-boh. That would be French in a community that’s today culturally diverse.

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TELL ME: What would you like to know about Faribault? Or, what do you know about Faribault? Or, what do you love about Faribault?

FYI: In addition to my cover photo, my Midway photo from the Rice County Fair is printed in an ad on page 20 and a photo I took of Twiehoff Gardens & Nursery is published on page 30.

© Copyright 2017 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

 

For the love of photographing a car show August 31, 2015

These two vintage cars staged side-by-side with the simple building back drop caught my eye.

These two vintage cars staged side-by-side with the building back drop caught my eye. I love the repetition of lines and shapes in vehicles and building. Plus the signage and USA plate add to the visual interest.

I’M NOT INTERESTED in car shows like my husband. He can spout off makes and models and years without hesitation. Rather my interest focuses on color, curves, reflections, light, art, words—the details.

I've discovered that vintage car owners possess a sense of humor, the reason I always examine the plates.

I’ve discovered that vintage car owners possess a sense of humor, the reason I always examine the plates.

The difference in our approaches rises from our professions. He is an automotive machinist. I am a photographer and a wordsmith.

What's under the hood interests Randy far more than me.

What’s under the hood interests Randy far more than me.

He can no more frame a great photo than I can do a valve job. We fail at each others’ work.

Our friend Larry with his restored

Our friend Larry with his restored Ford Econoline truck. Car shows are also about connecting with others, not just about showing off and viewing vehicles.

Still, we delight in attending car shows together. He sees what I miss. I see what he misses. We learn from each other. I wander with my Canon DSLR. He chats up cars with those who appreciate vintage vehicles for the same reasons he does. It works for us.

I love the shiny bumpers and the reflections therein. Here

I love the shiny bumpers and the reflections therein.

About a year ago I nearly hit the jackpot with my car show meandering. I was contacted by a Chicago ad agency regarding an image I’d taken of a shiny bumper. The photo was among half a dozen in the running for a national ad campaign for a major car care product. I would have been paid a significant amount of money for use of the image. In the end, another photo was selected.

I set my camera on the street and tilted it up to take this shot. That's my husband on the left, already moving onto the next vehicle.

I set my camera on the street and tilted it up to take this shot. That’s my husband on the left, already moving onto the next vehicle.

That’s how it goes. I will keep shooting car show photos as I always have, for the joy and fun of sharing that which I discover through the lens of my camera, from my unique perspective.

BONUS PHOTOS:

Spotted in a rear window.

Spotted in a rear window.

The colors, oh, the colors.

The colors, oh, the colors.

Clamped atop a VW.

A Pioneer plate denotes a collector class car.

Clamped atop a VW van.

Clamped atop a VW bus.

This VW

This 1958 VW bus Westfalia drew lots of onlookers.

There's something about vintage vehicles lined up along the curb that is so visually appealing.

There’s something about vintage vehicles lined up along the curb that is so visually appealing.

Another vintage cooler, this one in the back of a wagon.

Another vintage cooler, this one in the back of a wagon.

A work in progress.

A work in progress.

Leaving the final Car Cruise Night of the season in historic downtown Faribault.

Leaving the final Car Cruise Night of the season in historic downtown Faribault.

FYI: The photos here were shot at the last Faribault Car Cruise Night of 2015, held on a recent Friday evening.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

At the Faribault car show, Part II: Fit for royalty & fit for the jester July 21, 2015

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The Rolls Royce parked in downtown Faribault Friday evening for the Car Cruise.

The Rolls Royce parked in downtown Faribault Friday evening for the Car Cruise.

YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU may see at a car show.

A royal photo opp.

A royal photo opp.

At Friday evening’s Faribault Car Cruise Night, it was the 1970s Rolls Royce parked on the corner of Fourth Street/Minnesota Highway 60 and Central Avenue that drew lots of second looks. One group even posed for photos. The owners, whose identity I did not ask, take the car to the occasional car show and on Sunday afternoon drives. I expect if you own a Rolls Royce, you are selective about where you drive.

Typically, this dog's behind is attached to the back of the truck. But on this evening, it was resting on the roof. This made me laugh.

Typically, this dog’s behind is attached to the back of the truck. But on this evening, it was resting on the roof. This made me laugh.

While the Rolls Royce rated riveting royal attention, the behind of a dog attached to the roof of a truck did too. Except it seemed more fitting for the jester’s court. No one was photographing that except me.

Zooming in on the details, a Mustang emblem.

Zooming in on the details, a Mustang emblem.

I often focus on details as much as the overall scene to tell a story. An event is like a book. There are letters within words within sentences within paragraphs within chapters, between the covers. Without one, there is nothing.

BONUS PHOTOS:

Vehicles lined one block of Central Avenue.

Vehicles lined one block of Central Avenue.

I have no idea what Dixie 66 means. But there are always interesting plates on these vehicles.

Apparently 1966 Mustangs are “Dixie Dream Cars.”

Interested in what's under the hood? Many hoods are open at car shows.

Interested in what’s under the hood? Many hoods are open at car shows.

Art on the hood of a Thunderbird.

Art on the hood of a Pontiac Firebird.

Car cruise participants typically bring lawn chairs and sit near their vehicles.

Car cruise participants typically bring lawn chairs and sit near their vehicles.

More car art, this time on the trunk.

More car art, this time on the trunk.

FYI: Click here to read my first post on the July 17 Faribault Car Cruise Night. The final Cruise Night of the season is slated for 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Friday, August 21 on Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

From Faribault: I’m no gearhead, but I still love car shows July 20, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 12:06 PM
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A scene from the July 17 Faribault Car Cruise Night.

A scene from the July 17 Faribault Car Cruise Night.

IF YOU WOULD HAVE TOLD me a decade ago that I’d ever remotely be interested in a car show, I may have rolled my eyes and laughed. Back then, I considered car shows boring and mostly for guys. Like my husband, an automotive machinist. So he went alone, until the first time I decided to accompany him. With my camera.

Cars pop in cherry red.

Cars pop in cherry red against a white building.

My, how my attitude changed. When he mentions car shows these days, I grab my Canon and go.

I focus on the details, like plates and lights and curves and lines...

I focus on the details, like plates and lights and curves and lines…

When I began to view these displays of mostly vintage vehicles as gallery exhibits, I was hooked. Cars are works of art from the hood ornaments to the curves of fenders to the personalized license plates and more.

Art flames on the side of a truck.

Art flames on the side of a truck.

Randy studies motors and other practicalities of a vehicle. I study the artistic side. And I watch people. It works for us. He is beginning to see what I see. And I am learning more about motors, makes and models.

The turn-out was impressive despite the heat.

The turn-out Friday evening was impressive despite the heat.

A car show like the Faribault Car Cruise Night, held the third Friday evening of the month May – August, is about more than a collection of shiny vintage vehicles. It’s about creating a sense of community, about drawing folks into an historic downtown on a summer evening. It’s about connecting people and building relationships based on a common interest.

Peeling out around a corner of Central Avenue.

Peeling out around a corner of Central Avenue.

The State Bank of Faribault sign flashed 88 degrees Friday evening, ending a day that hung heavy with humidity. Yet, plenty of Car Cruise fans perused vehicles as local radio station, Power 96, cranked out classic rock tunes. The sinking sun angled around old brick buildings. A car squealed tires around a corner. A preschooler was hoisted onto a mini motor bike.

Adding to the artsy aspect of Car Cruise Night, was this colorful attire worn by Faribault

Adding to the artsy aspect of Car Cruise Night, was this colorful attire worn by three Somali women.

And my last photo, snapped as I ambled with my husband toward our 2003 Chevy Impala—not the 64 Chevy he coveted because he once owned one—was a trio of Somali women. They weren’t there to view the vehicles, but simply walking through downtown. But for me, from my perspective, they were part of Faribault Car Cruise Night, their colorful garb weaving more art into this temporary Central Avenue Gallery exhibit.

A 1964 Chevy.

A 1964 Chevy.

BONUS PHOTOS:

The Grain Belt powered mini bike.

The Grain Belt powered mini bike.

Some folks even bring their dogs to the car show.

Some folks even bring their dogs to the car show.

A vehicle sports stickers for area car cruises.

A vehicle sports stickers for area car cruises.

FYI: Check back tomorrow for more images from the July 17 Faribault Car Cruise Night. The next, and final, cruise event is from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. on Friday, August 21.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

A photographer’s perspective on Faribault Car Cruise Night August 19, 2014

Two of the numerous vehicles parked in downtown Faribault Friday evening for the last Car Cruise Night of the season.

Two of the vehicles parked in downtown Faribault Friday evening for the last Car Cruise Night of the season.

AFTER ATTENDING NUMEROUS CAR SHOWS in recent years, including two back-to-back this past weekend, I sometimes wonder how I can possibly find anything new to photograph.

But I do.

I set my camera on the pavement for this low down perspective shot.

I set my camera on the pavement for this low down perspective shot.

Hanging out at Faribault Car Cruise Night.

Hanging out at Faribault Car Cruise Night.

Hood ornaments always draw my attention.

Hood ornaments always draw my attention.

It takes determination to seek out the details, the interesting perspectives, the light, the people and more. It helps to have an automotive machinist husband who knows cars inside and out.

Plenty of old vehicle lined a block of Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault.

Plenty of old vehicles lined a block of Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault.

I’ll never care about old cars quite like Randy, still yearning for the ’64 Chevy he drove decades ago as a young man. I’d love for my husband to own one again. But with other more pressing needs, a vintage vehicle remains on the dream list.

The "license plate" caught my eye.

The “license plate” and front of this Plymouth caught my eye.

Proud to be a Green Bay Packers fan.

Proud to be a Green Bay Packers fan.

The proud Packers fan who bought this car already painted green. Perfect for this Minnesotan with a daughter living in Milwaukee and encouraging her dad's Packers mania.

The proud Packers fan bought this car already painted green. Perfect for this Minnesotan with a daughter living in Milwaukee who encourages her dad’s Packers mania.

And so my spouse and I meander among the old-time vehicles, me with camera in hand examining details like hood ornaments and interiors and the shine of bumpers.

Lots of looking under the hood opportunities.

Lots of looking under the hood opportunities.

Randy noticed, and pointed out to me, the original car order from 1967 for a Satellite still owned by the original owner.

Randy noticed, and pointed out to me, the original car order from 1967 for a Satellite still owned by the original owner.

And then I noticed the mini Satellite in the back window.

And then I noticed the mini Satellite in the back window.

He’s more interested in what’s under the hood and whether everything is original.

See that metal rod sticking out behind the tire. I would have totally missed it except for my husband pointing out the wheel scraper that keeps the tire from hitting the curb.

See that metal rod sticking out behind the tire. I would have totally missed it except for my husband pointing out the curb scraper that keeps the tire from hitting the curb.

Remember how common these Phillips 76 balls once were on car antennas?

Remember how common these Phillips 76 balls once were on car antennas?

It’s a great system because he shows and shares information about vintage vehicles that I would not even consider or notice.

An absolutely beautiful work of art, in my opinion.

An absolutely beautiful work of art, in my opinion.

And maybe, just maybe, he has developed an appreciation for my artistic perspective.

A classic Ford Falcon.

A classic Ford Falcon.

HOW ABOUT YOU? What interests you in vintage vehicles?

Craig attracted plenty of attention when he flipped on the lights and sirens on his vintage ambulance.

Craig attracted plenty of attention when he flipped the lights and sirens on his vintage ambulance when leaving Faribault Car Cruise Night along Central Avenue.

What do you notice?

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling