Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Appreciating the historic setting of Faribault’s Car Cruise Night July 21, 2016

the historic

Buildings on the National Register of Historic Places provide the backdrop for vintage vehicles during Faribault’s Car Cruise Night on July 15.

SO MUCH ABOUT FARIBAULT DOWNTOWN Car Cruise Nights appeals to me. Certainly the vehicles draw my interest from an artistic, photographic and historical perspective. The opportunity, too, to mingle and visit also appeals to me.

The University of Minnesota Gopher Motorsports team brought their global Formula SAE series race car to cruise night .

The University of Minnesota Gopher Motorsports team brought its global Formula SAE series race car to cruise night and parked it in the 300 block of Central Avenue’s historic district.

But one other aspect imprints upon me every single time I attend this monthly summer event. That’s the historic setting. Aged buildings in the 5 x 2 1/2 block Faribault Commercial Historic District provide a lovely backdrop to the many vintage vehicles that roll onto Central Avenue.

Lovely old buildings in the 300 block house places like a cheese shop and a cakery.

Lovely old buildings in the 300 block house places like a cheese shop and a cakery. My eldest daughter’s wedding reception was held several years ago in The Loft, a second floor event rental space in the Bachrach Building (with the arched windows).

As a photographer, I am always cognizant of light and background, of angle and perspective, of composition and subject. Thus, I notice the primarily brick buildings that rise stories above the street, casting deep shadows as dusk settles.

I appreciate the faded lettering on the former Security Bank building.

Details on buildings along the west side of the 300 block of Central Avenue.

Sometimes I just stand in the middle of Central and look upward toward the arched windows, the ornate roof lines, the fading letters that mark long ago businesses and wonder about yesteryear. I think about the tailors and harnessmakers, the shoemakers, the purveyors of dry goods, books and stationery…

Historic buildings reflected in a polished vehicle at Car Cruise Night.

Historic buildings reflected in a polished vehicle at Car Cruise Night.

I am grateful that my community had the foresight to preserve these stalwart buildings of the 1870s and 1880s rather than tear them down. I am grateful for the existence of the Faribault Heritage Preservation Commission. I appreciate my downtown.

A 1959 Edsel Village Wagon is parked in front of the Paradise Center for the Arts with its restored marquee.

A 1959 Edsel Village Wagon is parked in front of the Paradise Center for the Arts with its recreated marquee.

Faribault is uniquely geographically positioned off Interstate 35 within an hour of the Twin Cities metro to draw visitors. Minnesota State Highway 60 also passes right through the heart of town. I’m sensing that more people are finally discovering this place I’ve called home for some 30 years. Newer businesses like a cheese shop, brewery and cakerya thriving arts center; and more are bringing people into our historic downtown.

This emblem tops a trophy to be awarded August 19 at the Car Club Show Down.

This emblem tops a homemade over-sized trophy to be awarded August 19 at the Car Club Show Down.

I’d like to see, though, a shift in local attitudes. While many residents appreciate and value downtown Faribault, we need to grow more local pride. Events like Car Cruise Night and the upcoming Blue Collar BBQ & Arts Festival (on August 13) get residents involved and foster a sense of community.

pawn

The building behind the cars (230 Central) is listed on documents as the Masonic Building, built in 1875. Pawn Minnesota once housed Poirier Drug Store. In 1993, Warner Brothers filmed a scene in the drug store for the movie Grumpy Old Men starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon.

As someone who grew up 120 miles away to the west in a small town founded nearly 50 years after Faribault, I deeply appreciate Faribault’s historic downtown. My hometown of Vesta is devoid of old buildings, the one-block Main Street now mostly vacant lots. Faribault has dozens of places throughout the community on the National Register of Historic Places, including the 200 block of Central Avenue. Those historic buildings are an enviable asset.

Collector vehicles pop color and history into the

Collector vehicles pop color and history into Faribault’s downtown.

When I attend events like Car Cruise Night, I take notice of my surroundings. Not just the collector vehicles. But the historic setting that showcases them. And I realize how valuable this downtown is to this city.

BONUS PHOTOS:

The Drag-On's Car Club brings together local car enthusiasts.

The Faribault Drag-On’s Car Club, established in 1987, brings together local car enthusiasts. This sign was posted inside a vehicle at Car Cruise Night.

Pride reflected in the polished

Pride reflected in the polished finish of car and hood ornament.

This unique vehicle drew lots of interest at the July 15 Car Cruise Night.

This unique vehicle, parked in front of the Paradise Center for the Arts, drew lots of interest at the July 15 Car Cruise Night.

The sleek lines of a jetliner hood ornament drew my artistic attention.

The sleek lines of a jetliner hood ornament drew my artistic attention.

A multitude of messages in a vehicle window caused me to pause.

A multitude of messages in a vehicle window caused me to pause.

The Dodge Super Bee with the bee theme going on drew my interest.

The Dodge Super Bee with the bee theme going on drew my interest. This was parked in the 200 block of Faribault’s historic downtown Central Avenue.

Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Nights draw all ages and some dogs, too. I'd like to see some family-oriented events added, perhaps a scavenger hunt that focuses on the historic building exteriors.

Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Nights draw all ages and some dogs, too. I’d like to see family-oriented events added, perhaps a scavenger hunt that focuses on the historic buildings.

Some buildings in the historic commercial district

Some buildings in the historic commercial district have not yet been fully restored.

While photographing vehicles, I noticed the truck reflection in the storefront window of a hair salon.

While photographing vehicles, I noticed the truck reflection in the storefront window of a hair salon with this simple artsy display.

FYI: This concludes my three-part series on the July 15 Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night. Click here to see my first post and here to read my second in this series.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

The power of a boy & his Mercedes July 20, 2016

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Boy in his Mercedes, 70 close-up

 

HEADS SWIVELED AS THE FIRE engine red Mercedes turned onto Central Avenue.

 

Car Cruise Night, 71 boy in Mercedes

 

Behind the wheel, the young driver steered his luxury car around cones and navigated past rows of parked vehicles to the delight of an appreciative audience.

 

Boy in his Mercedes, 72 family following car

 

It was a sweet moment when the preschooler arrived at the July 15 Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night.

 

Boy in his Mercedes, 74 next to other cars

 

I was delighted to catch his arrival with my camera, to document this scene of cuteness, of family togetherness.

 

Boy in his Mercedes, 76 driving away

 

At a time when the world seems all too chaotic and violent, I found this scene reassuring.

 

Boy in his Mercedes, 78 father trailing car

 

On this Friday evening in Greater Minnesota, this little boy reminded me of the joys and goodness in everyday life. These are the moments I need to remember.

FYI: Check back tomorrow as I bring you one final post from the July 15 Car Cruise Night. Click here to read my first post in this three-part series.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Cruisn’ onto Faribault’s Central Avenue on a summer evening July 19, 2016

A 1946 Fleck's

A 1946 Fleck’s delivery truck is showcased along Faribault’s Central Avenue at the July 15 Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night. Donated to the Rice County Historical Society, this Fleckenstein Brewery delivery truck is the only known one to still exist. Efforts are underway to restore the truck  with a gofundme site established to raise $35,000 for the project. Fleckenstein Brewery was in business in Faribault for 108 years.

HISTORY,

 

Car Cruise Night, 28 die in window

 

NOSTALGIA,

I've discovered that car collectors often possess a quirky sense of humor.

I’ve learned that car collectors often possess a quirky sense of humor.

HUMOR—all rolled into Faribault’s monthly Car Cruise Night on Friday evening in the heart of our historic downtown.

 

Car Cruise Night, 1 lime green Ford 4x4

 

Car Cruise Night, 71 boy in Mercedes

 

Car Cruise Night, 55 Pioneer collectible car

 

What an event. For three hours I meandered and perused the vehicles angled into parking spots along the 200 and 300 blocks of Central Avenue. Music blared. Cars roared and rumbled. And folks lingered car-side and curb-side to admire vehicles ranging from a polished lime green Ford F250 4×4 truck to a Pioneer collectible car to a mini Mercedes driven by a preschooler.

 

Car Cruise Night, 25 street scene downtown Faribault

 

The atmosphere was kicked back relaxing against a backdrop of lovely historic buildings on a perfect Minnesota summer evening.

 

Car Cruise Night, 81 skateboarders

 

Car Cruise Night, 85 hanging out

 

Car Cruise Night, 17 man passing through

 

Friends conversed. Car enthusiasts mingled. Teens skateboarded and biked through the crowd while families group-walked, men clustered to talk cars and a couple leaned in close to study an engine. Others simply went about their business downtown, seemingly oblivious.

 

Car Cruise Night, 113 Chrysler 300, 1965

 

I’ve been to many of these Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Nights, and never have I seen such a crowd. Participants included my friends Larry and Sheryl who arrived in their creamy pale yellow 1965 Chrysler 300, a car which recently took them on a road trip to the Ozarks of Missouri.

 

Car Cruise Night, 111 Chevy pick-up truck 1950

This truck, originally painted a dark green, belonged to Dean’s grandfather. It was then passed on to Dean’s dad, who painted it John Deere green. When Dean got the truck after his father’s death, he painted it black. Growing up, Dean learned to drive the pick-up in an alfalfa field. Although others have suggested that Dean soup this truck up, he intends to keep it as original as possible.

Across the street, Dean shared that he is the third generation owner of a 1950 Chevy pick-up, a truck he will some day pass on to his son. The truck means a lot to Dean, whose father died 26 years ago of a massive heart attack in his mid fifties.

 

Car Cruise Night, 36 Imperial

 

A block away, my friend Barb directed me to the classy 60s-something Chrysler Imperial she and husband Bob drove to the event.

 

Car Cruise Night, 45 in loving memory

 

If there’s one universal emotion among participants in Car Cruise Night, it’s pride. In every gleaming bumper, every personalized message, every vintage period accessory, I see the pride of those who own these vehicles.

 

Park stickers grace the window of a 1959 Edsel Village Wagon.

Park stickers grace the window of a 1959 Edsel Village Wagon.

 

Car Cruise Night, 64 red car

 

This one-of-a-kind ginormous trophy was unveiled

This one-of-a-kind ginormous trophy was unveiled at the Car Cruise. It will be awarded on August 19 to the car club with the 10 best cars during the Car Club Show Down.

Memories are polished in to these vehicles that are more than mere modes of transportation. These are Saturday night dates, family vacations, bumpy rides across alfalfa fields, first cars, trophy winners. These are stories of people and places and moments in life.

A show of humor on the back of a 1974 Ford Torino.

A humorous touch on the back of a 1974 Ford Torino.

Please check back for two more posts featuring images from the July 15 Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night organized by Faribault Main Street and supported by numerous sponsors.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling