Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

From flowers to cayenne peppers, a birthday celebration October 1, 2021

A beautiful birthday bouquet from my eldest daughter and her family. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo 2021.

I RECENTLY CELEBRATED a milestone birthday and I’ve never been happier to turn another year older. Gone is my absurdly high monthly health insurance premium of $1,245 (with a $4,250 deductible), replaced by affordable (and usable) Medicare coverage. And now I’m also eligible for the Pfizer booster vaccine. Yeah. Here’s to turning sixty-five.

Walking through the prairie at River Bend toward the woods. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo 2021.

I didn’t celebrate my birthday with great fanfare or the usual birthday treat of dining out. (Even though vaccinated, I continue to be cautious and careful in these days of COVID-19.) Rather, Randy and I hiked across the prairie and woods at River Bend Nature Center, a treasured place to connect with nature in Faribault.

Omelet and hashbrowns, along with watermelon from the Faribault Farmers’ Market, comprised my birthday brunch. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo 2021.

Afterwards, I enjoyed a delicious brunch prepared by Randy. We dined al fresco on our patio at a card table draped in one of my many vintage tablecloths.

Then, in the afternoon, we spent time with our eldest daughter, her husband and our precious grandchildren at their home. I appreciated the grilled burger and vegetables with my favorite, cheesecake, for dessert. A wonderful way to celebrate.

The only thing that would have made my birthday even better would have been the presence of our second daughter, her husband and our son. But they called from southeastern Wisconsin and northwestern Indiana and that brought me joy.

Thank you to those who sent cards, this one from my second daughter and her husband. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo 2021.

Some friends and extended family also texted wishes. I got greeting cards, too.

Gladioli from The 3 Glad Girls. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo 2021.

And flowers. Randy purchased a clutch of gladioli at the Faribault Farmers’ Market. And when he presented them to me with a “Happy birthday!” while I was chatting with Andy Webster of MEG’S Edible Landscapes, Andy took note. “It’s your birthday?” he asked.

“Well, not today, but tomorrow,” I told him.

Smoked cayenne peppers gifted to me by Andy of MEG’S Edible Landscapes. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo 2021.

Then he scooped a baggie of smoked cayenne peppers from the table. “Happy birthday!” Andy said with a smile. Now if that wasn’t the sweetest gesture from a young man who lives on his dream rural acreage in the Sogn Valley, runs his business and is working on a horticulture degree from Oregon University.

Andy’s genuine passion for MEG’S Edible Landscapes showed in his pitch and his personality. He is a genuinely warm and engaging person. To summarize, Andy sells a mobile system for growing vegetables like peppers, basil, beans, lettuce, carrots and more in bags that you can easily pick up and move. It’s ideal, he said, for someone like me without garden space. If enthusiasm and knowledge make for business success, then Andy is certain to succeed.

His unexpected birthday gift of those smoked cayenne peppers touched me in a way that resonated deeply. In these challenging times, I needed that affirmation of an unexpected act of kindness. What a great way to begin my next year of life.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Connecting at the Faribault Farmers’ Market September 27, 2019


Garden-fresh flowers, like these spider mums, are available at the Faribault Farmers’ Market, open now on Saturday mornings from 7 a.m. – noon in Central Park.


SHOPPING AT A FARMERS’ MARKET is not simply about shopping for garden-fresh produce, home-baked goods, handcrafted items and more. It’s about the experience. That much I’ve learned in my many years of frequenting the Faribault Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings.


Musicians perform at the recent Faribault Farmers’ Market Family Day while shoppers visit the market.


A Minnesota item crafted by Becker Woodcraft LLC.


Vegetables are in abundance.


The experience is one of community—of coming together, of connecting, of appreciating this place and the people committed to sharing their products.


My friend Al sells his flowers and produce.


Old-fashioned zinnias grown by Al.


One of the youngest vendors from 3 Glad Girls sells gladiolus.


My local farmers’ market offers opportunities to chat with vendors like Kelly of The Giant’s House Bakery, Al with his ever-brilliant bouquets of my favorite zinnias, Denny with whatever creative treat he concocts (like chocolate-dipped jalapenos), Tiffany of Graise Farm with her duck eggs…



Heirloom tomato.


One of the more unusual items for sale, agates displayed in a bowl of water.



I often pause and chat with friends who are also seeking locally-grown/baked/crafted food/goods. Pumpkins. Kolacky. Homemade jams and jellies. Cookies. Bouquets of flowers. Jewelry and art.


A bouncy house provides fun for the kids during Family Day.


A musician plays the flute during Family Day.


The goats were a popular Family Day draw.


Meet the goat.


Milk the goat.


When the Faribault Farmers’ Market hosted Family Day a few Saturdays ago, I was pleased to see Central Park crowded with young families enjoying the extras of fun activities, informational booths, music and farm animals up-close.


Kids make fruit and vegetable prints during Family Day.


The atmosphere felt festive and spirited with a prevailing sense of community. More than ever today, we need to reclaim and maintain that feeling, that sense of connection that brings us together. We need one another. Whether we live in town or the country. Your local farmer’s market is a good place to start building community.



TELL ME: Do you shop farmers’ markets? If yes, what do you buy? Tell me also about your experiences.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Experience holiday festivities this weekend in Faribault December 8, 2016

Mike Fuchs guides his team or horses southbound on Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault late Saturday afternoon.

A scene along Central Avenue during the 2015 holiday season. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

THE SPIRIT OF THE SEASON blankets Faribault this weekend with holiday events ranging from a figure skating show to a kids’ Christmas party to concerts to a home-grown theatrical production and much more.

Dark wood and stone define the cathedral interior.

Dark wood and stone define the sanctuary at The Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

When I started jotting a list of events, even I was astounded. I could schedule my entire weekend around enjoying myself rather than focusing on holiday prep. If I wasn’t donating blood on Friday evening, I could kick my weekend off by attending Handel’s Messiah, presented at 7:30 p.m. by the Cannon Valley Regional Orchestra at The Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour, 515 Second Avenue Northwest.

Some of the cast members of "Wrapped in Love & Glory" pose inside the Faribault Woolen Mill. Photo by Edward Brown.

Some of the cast members of “Wrapped in Love & Glory” pose inside the Faribault Woolen Mill. Photo by Edward Brown and courtesy of The Merlin Players.

I already have tickets for The Merlin Players performance of “Wrapped in Love & Glory,” an original play written by Faribault native Michael Lambert. “The show weaves together the letters, history and music of the women working in the Faribault Woolen Mill to make blankets for the troops fighting overseas during WW II,” according to a TMP press release. Twenty-six songs from that era are incorporated in to the production.

The show opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Paradise Center for the Arts, 321 Central Avenue, with additional evening performances set for December 10 and 15 – 17. Sunday shows are at 2 p.m. on December 11 and 18. Click here for more information or call (507) 332-7372.

This jar of veggies carries the perfect name, "Summer in a Jar."

Canned produce sold at the summer Faribault Farmer’s Market. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Also at the Paradise are the creations of area artists. Perfect for holiday giving. Additionally, from 1 – 4 p.m. Saturday, the Winter Farmers’ Market opens inside the Paradise with local vendors selling everything from eggs to maple syrup to soap, baked goods and more.

Historic buildings in downtown Faribault are decorated for the holiday season.

Historic downtown Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Historic downtown Faribault will be one busy place Saturday as Faribault Main Street also hosts its second annual Holiday Snack Contest from noon – 3 p.m. While you shop, you can sample tasty treats at local businesses. All through-out the downtown, local shopkeepers (and even a pop-up shop) offer a variety of goods—shoes, home décor, antiques, electronics, specialty gifts, baked goods, cheese

We wanted to sample all of the beers on tap, so we ordered a flight.

A sampling of flight offerings at F-Town. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

And let’s not forget the beer. Drink it on-site at F-Town Brewing, just off Central, or purchase a growler to take home. Or check out a local liquor store for F-Town beers.

The cast, with the little Snowflakes on the right as audience favorites.

A scene from the 2012 ice skating show at Shattuck. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

If you’re out and about with your family, drive to Faribault’s east side for Shattuck-St. Mary’s School’s annual Christmas Walk. The free community event begins with a “Christmas Spectacular on Ice” show at noon in the SSM Sports Complex. Festivities continue thereafter until 4 p.m. on the Shattuck campus with musical performances; activities for kids in Morgan Refectory; visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus (from 1:30 – 4 p.m.) in The Inn; and a 3:30 p.m. holiday concert in The Chapel of the Good Shepherd.

Kids worked on holiday crafts in the dining hall.

Kids worked on holiday crafts in the dining hall at Shattuck. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

On Sunday, there’s more family-oriented fun, this time at the Faribault Eagles, 2027 Grant Street, as the club hosts its annual free Kids Christmas Party from noon to 3 p.m. for kids 12 and under accompanied by an adult.

Nearby at the Faribo West Mall, shoppers can take in a 3 – 3:30 p.m. Sunday concert by the Faribault High School Orchestra followed by the Faribault Area Community Band’s “A Christmas Concert for Busy People.” That concert title seems especially fitting given the season and all that’s happening in Faribault. These pre-Christmas weekends are busy ones in my southeastern Minnesota community.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Celebrating locally-grown, crafted & more at the Faribault Farmers’ Market September 15, 2015

Sunshine drenched sunflowers Saturday morning at the Faribault Farmers' Market.

Sunshine drenches sunflowers Saturday morning at the Faribault Farmers’ Market.

BRILLIANT SUNSHINE SLICED sharp angles into the morning. Not ideal for photography. But a perfect morning for Family Day at the Faribault Farmers’ Market. It was a pull your jacket around you in the shade and remove it in the sunshine type of early autumn Saturday morning.

All ages flocked to the market for Family Day.

All ages flocked to the market for Family Day.

Music adds to the festive feel of the event.

Music adds to the festive feel of the event.

Attendees could learn about bees.

Attendees could learn about bees.

And then purchase a jar of beautiful honey.

And then purchase a jar of beautiful honey.

These colorful hats would brighten any Minnesota winter day.

These colorful hats would brighten any Minnesota winter day.

And the crowd was in an almost festive mood as a piccolo played, bees buzzed, friends chatted and vendors displayed garden fresh produce, handcrafted items, baked goods and more. Shoppers could sample local honey smeared on graham crackers, homemade yogurt, apple slices and other goods as they meandered the northern and western perimeters of Central Park.

Feeding the goats.

Kids loved the goats…

...but were more cautious around the cattle.

…but were more cautious around the cattle.

Plus, the kids (and adults) could pet goats and Red Angus and Hereford cattle.

Freebies and samples.

Freebies and samples.

I love events like this geared toward families. From my observations, Family Day was a success. I frequent the Faribault Farmers’ Market. And never have I seen so many kids there. Several vendors remarked the same, expressing their appreciation for the number of folks who scoped out the market, many likely for the first time.

Henry, 21 months, enjoyed a cupcake from Bluebird Bakery.

Henry, 21 months, enjoys a cupcake from Bluebird Cakery.

Folks waited in line for these cupcakes.

Folks waited in line for these cupcakes.

Kids also waited to get their faces painted. Proceeds benefited four Faribault High School football players injured in a serious crash last week.

Kids also waited to get their faces painted. Proceeds benefited four Faribault High School football players injured in a serious crash last week.

Anne from Know-How Brews & Foods, spooned granola onto homemade yogurt as she handed out samples.

Anne from Know-How Brews & Foods spoons granola onto homemade yogurt as she hands out samples.

To me it seems a no-brainer, to offer activities for young families. Twice a month would be good. A line queued for face-painting and for Bluebird Cakery cupcakes. Grandmas strolled hand-in-hand with granddaughters. Kids poked sticks and grass at goats. Shoppers snagged reusable cloth bags from Rice County Public Health and other info from the University of Minnesota Extension Services and the Faribault Chamber of Commerce.

A mom and her young daughters sell gladioli through their business, Three Glad Girls.

A mom and her young daughters sell gladiolus through their business, The Three Glad Girls.

An example of the goat soap crafted at Whispering Creek Farm, rural Morristown.

An example of the goat soap crafted at Whispering Creek Farm, rural Morristown.

Produce abounds this time of year.

Produce abounds this time of year.

Our youth need this interactive connection to animals and the land, to those who grow and raise our food. They need to meet the hardworking individuals who tend plants and animals and the creative types who craft with their hands and hold dear those skills.

A perfect hot pad for the season.

A perfect hot pad for the season.

And now with harvest peaking, it’s the ideal time to showcase our local farmers’ market often and creatively with family-geared activities. A straw bale maze. Build a scarecrow. Pumpkin ring toss. The ideas are only limited by creativity and willing volunteers.

A musician plays her accordion at the market.

A musician plays her accordion at the market.

I’d like to hear your thoughts and suggestions on activities for families at a farmers’ market.


Peppers pop color and heat into the marketplace.

Peppers pop color and heat into the marketplace.

Vendors are still selling sweetcorn.

Vendors are still selling sweetcorn.

This jar of veggies carries the perfect name, "Summer in a Jar."

This jar of veggies carries the perfect name, “Summer in a Jar.”

Ears of colorful Indian corn are beginning to show up in vendors' offerings.

Ears of colorful Indian corn are beginning to show up in vendors’ offerings.

A vendor cradles a dog.

A vendor cradles a dog.

According to several vendors, the tomatoes were not that great this growing season. However, an abundance of them is available at the market.

According to several vendors, the tomatoes were not that great this growing season. However, an abundance of them is available at the market.

Zinnias, my favorite cut flowers from the garden.

Zinnias, my favorite cut, easy-to-grow garden flowers.

FYI: The Faribault Farmers’ Market is open seasonally from 1:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. Wednesdays and from 7 a.m. – noon on Saturdays in Central Park near downtown. You’ll find lots of other offerings, like jewelry, baked goods, wood crafts, and more, in addition to what I’ve showcased here in words and images.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Connecting to community at the Faribault Farmers’ Market June 26, 2012

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A snippet of the Faribault Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning.

IT IS A PLACE of conversation and crafty creations, of canned garden goods and garden fresh produce, of homemade breads and muffins and sweet treats.

That, my friends, defines the Faribault Farmers’ Market in one swoop of a summary sentence.

Break that sentence down and you will meet Ken, the weaver; Bernie, the woodcrafter; Judy, the card maker; Sandi, the gardener; Denny, the candy maker; Rhonda, the crafter; Pat, the re-purposer of stuff; and many more vendors.

Bernie’s woodcrafted goods, right.

Saturday morning my husband and I shopped our local farmers’ market in Faribault’s Central Park because we appreciate these folks who work with their hands to bring us all that edible goodness, all those crafty creations, all those beautiful flowers and more.

Sandi’s stunning Asiatic lilies.

Cauliflower, from the chemical-free fields of a market vendor, in its natural, sun-exposed color.

More market flowers from a vendor who always sells beautiful, mixed bouquets.

We purchased Swiss chard, a bag of mixed green lettuce, red potatoes, cauliflower, a card to celebrate the birth of our new great nephew and four salted peanut bars, all for $12.25.

The red potatoes we purchased from Sandi, who planted her potatoes on April 13.

But the value of our shopping experience expands beyond our purchases. The value lies also in engaging with our community, with those who are our neighbors and friends and with those who become our friends through our conversations at the market.

Ken of Wegner Weavers weaves these tightly woven, superb quality rugs, runners, placemats and coasters.

After chatting with Ken, the weaver, I was blessed with one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received. Ken didn’t know me except as an occasional shopper. But he told me how much he enjoyed our visit, that I spoke in a comforting way. And, you know, I nearly cried for the unsolicited kindness of the weaver’s words weaving into my heart.

The vintage portable radio Ken, the weaver, brings with him to the market. In my opinion, Ken doesn’t need a radio; he makes music with his words. He says he doesn’t play the radio often as it can detract from business.

Satisfied customers leave the market with fresh onions.

Bernie’s kitschy yard art.

FYI: The Faribault Farmers’ Market is open from 7 a.m. – noon on Saturdays. Beginning on July 11, it will also be open from 1:30 p.m. – 5 p.m. Wednesdays.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


In the middle November 5, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 2:50 PM
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TODAY I HAVE SEVERAL STORIES to share with you, all with a single common denominator: the middle.

Let’s start with the most recent. I made myself a sandwich for lunch—a little mayo, turkey deli meat and ham deli meat with a slice of pepperjack cheese layered in the middle. Nothing unusual about that.

The second half of my sandwich, minus the...

Until I bit into the sandwich and hit something that didn’t seem quite right. But I kept biting and chewing, thinking it was just the rough grains in the multi-grained bread or an edge on the meat.

But after several bites, I paused to investigate and discovered a piece of paper. Yes, people, I was eating the paper that separates cheese slices. I had removed one piece of paper while making the sandwich. Clearly I had not checked the flip side of the cheese slice.

WARNING: Always remove the paper from BOTH sides of the cheese slice before eating.

In relaying this story to my husband, he could only shake his head, laugh and repeat several times, “That’s my Audrey.”

Now onto those other “middle” stories, which have cast me in the role of a “middlewoman.”

Earlier this week I received a request from a retired Air Force chaplain for commissioned artwork. Not my art; I don’t paint or draw or sculpt or anything artsy like that. Rather, the retired military man was looking to contact Richard Vilendrer, a 72-year-old Faribault artist whom I met at the Faribault Farmers’ Market and featured in a September blog post. I spoke with Richard’s wife Carol several days ago and now I’m waiting to hear if Richard is being commissioned.

An example of Richard's nature and faith-inspired pen-and-ink and colored pencil artwork.

Another inquiry this week came from a videographer for Farm Rescue, an organization that helps farmers in need. The North Dakota man was requesting permission to use images from a July 1 storm (in southwestern Minnesota) which I published on my blog. Because I hadn’t taken the two photos he wanted, I had to contact my brother and my uncle. Done. I’ll tell you more about this organization next week.

Then, the same day, an inquiry came via a blog comment from a South Dakota writer. She wanted to know if I knew of a Minnesota organization that works to preserve prairie churches. I don’t. Do you?

On Friday I learned that I made my first art sale. Again, not my art. Not my money. But a reader saw my photo of a hideous “turkey choir” print in a blog post about a Stockholm, Wisconsin, antique shop and promptly put the print on hold to purchase. Do I get a commission on this sale?

The "singing turkeys" print I helped to sell.

Finally, today, a metro woman asked, via a blog comment, if I could find the man at the Faribault Farmers’ Market who sold fresh horseradish. I knew exactly who she needed to contact. So I dialed Dennis Gare’s number, spoke to his wife and hopefully fresh horseradish will soon be on its way to this reader’s house.

You might rightly conclude from the above stories, with the exception of that paper eating incident, that I am truly a “middlewoman.” And all because of the power of this blog.

Thank you, readers, for reading Minnesota Prairie Roots. Happy to help you if you’re in the market for art, photos, information or horseradish.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


God’s beauty blooms in Richard’s art September 18, 2011

I HAVE NOT MET Richard Vilendrer, only spoken with him briefly on the phone.

Yet, I feel a connection to this 72-year-old Faribault man, this artist who creates art for the pure joy of doing so. I understand that. It is the same reason I write and take photos for this blog.

You can see that joy in Richard’s art, which I discovered Saturday morning at the Faribault Farmer’s Market. I had passed only a few vendors’ booths—laden with the typical fresh produce, flowers and baked goods you would expect to find in this venue—when I noticed the pen-and-ink and colored pencil drawings vended by Carol Vilendrer, Richard’s wife of 35 years.

I stopped and just stood there. And it flashed through my mind that this Christian-themed art would be a good fit for Christian greeting cards. And when I looked further, I saw that Richard had already made cards. But I write greeting card verses for an Indiana-based publisher and I asked Carol then and there if I could direct my editor to Richard’s work. So I am. I don’t know if this will go anywhere; I have to try, though.

There’s a certain passion in Richard’s art and you can sense that when you speak with the man. He doesn’t do this for the money—although he’s sold some pieces—but for the pure enjoyment of creating art.

Since grade school this former Faribault Regional Center employee, who worked with handicapped children until the center closed, has put pencil to paper. As a youth, when he should have been listening in English class, he was instead inspired by textbook images—of Indians and of soldiers in helmets and of airplanes—to duplicate those drawings.

Scripture and Christian songs inspire Richard.

Today words from a song heard on Twin Cities-based Christian radio station KTIS, or words from Scripture or a found feather on a nature walk inspire him to first draw in pencil, then go over the pencil with ink and finally fill in with colored pencil.

He prefers to draw small, detailed subjects like his hand or a feather or a maple leaf. Yet, he’s also drawn John Deere tractors and buildings and classic cars.

Richard uses a technique called cross hatching—to perfect shading—by using a ball point pen to draw lines close together in one direction and then crosses in an opposite direction. He learned that in high school. Mostly, though, he’s self-taught, without formal training. He calls his artistic skills a “God-given talent.”

This man of faith has used that gift from God to create artwork for fundraisers at his church, Divine Mercy in Faribault.

A year ago, he suffered a stroke. But even in that he sees the blessing—the stroke affected his entire right side, not his left. Richard, the artist, is left-handed.

Nature and faith inspire his detailed art.

A pen-and-ink drawing of a building at the former Faribault Regional Center where Richard worked.

St. Lawrence Church in Faribault where Richard and Carol Vilendrer were married 35 years ago this coming October 1.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED in purchasing Richard’s art or learning more about him, submit your contact information (which I will not publish) in a comment and I will pass that along to Richard.

PLEASE NOTE THAT the photos in this post are not 100 percent accurate to the true colors of Richard’s work. His drawings were wrapped in plastic, which filtered the colors and which created some glare. I edited each image somewhat to overcome those challenges.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Hotdish, but not on a stick August 26, 2011

TYPICALLY MY POSTS focus on a single subject. But not today. I’m serving hotdish. And since the Minnesota State Fair opened Thursday, pretend it’s hotdish on a stick, which actually can be purchased, with cream of mushroom dipping sauce, from vendors Ole and Lena’s. Ja, sure, ya betcha.

This year you’ll also find, for the first time at the Great Minnesota Get Together, chocolate covered jalapeno peppers.

Now, you might think Minnesotans would hesitate to try jalapeno anything given our primarily Scandinavian and German taste buds. But I can tell you that two summers ago I found Dennis Gare pushing chocolate covered jalapenos at the Faribault Farmers’ Market and they were selling like lefse at a Norwegian dinner.

Dennis Gare's chocolate covered jalapenos, which I photographed two years ago.

At the time, Dennis told me the jalapenos were creating quite a buzz among customers and vendors. He’s one of those savvy marketing types who create atypical foods—like pickled eggs and horseradish—that will attract customers and increase sales.

I checked in with Dennis last Saturday and jokingly asked if he was the vendor peddling the chocolate covered jalapeno peppers at the State Fair. Nope. That would be Andre’s Watermelon. But he was a little worried about the fieriness of the over-sized jalapenos on a stick.

If you attend the State Fair and try a chocolate covered jalapeno pepper, submit a comment. I’d like to report back to Dennis down at the Faribault Farmers’ Market. Click here to read my July 20, 2009, post about Dennis’ jalapenos.

SINCE I’M ON THE SUBJECT of the State Fair, I need to give a shout-out to the new Princess Kay of the Milky Way, 18-year-old Mary Zahurones from Pierz, a community of about 1,300 north of St. Cloud in Morrison County and along Minnesota Highway 25, a main route to the Brainerd Lakes area.

The new princess had her head carved in a 90-pound block of butter at the fair yesterday.

Anyway, I know a little about the princess’ hometown of Pierz. My husband graduated from Pierz Healy High School in, well, let’s just say a long, long, long time ago. The new princess graduated from my spouse’s alma mater several months ago, and you’ll find her princess photo proudly showcased on the District 484 website home page.

Two other interesting tidbits about Pierz: The town was originally called Rich Prairie, but was renamed after a Catholic priest, Father Francis Xavier Pierz. He is recognized as “The Father of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Cloud,” having settled in central Minnesota in 1852 as a missionary to Native Americans and having attracted many German Catholic immigrants to the area. You’ll find a statue of the good Father in a Pierz park, moved there last year from the St. Cloud Hospital.

Secondly, if you like bologna, and I don’t, but apparently central Minnesotans do, you can check out Bologna Days every Wednesday at the Red Rooster Bar & Grill in Genola (just south of Pierz) or every Thursday at Patrick’s Bar & Grill in Pierz. Really. This information is listed in the F.A.Q.’s section of the city website and, no bologna, I have seen a Bologna Days sign with my very own eyes.

Magnetic Catholic: St. Francis of Assisi

AS LONG AS WE’RE TALKING Catholic here, even though I’m Lutheran, I simply must point you to the “Magnetic Catholic” paper (well, not really paper) dolls which I first learned about from a Michigan writer on her blog, House Unseen. Click here to read that post and then click here to see the Magnetic Catholic Etsy shop.

I swear—oops, probably shouldn’t be swearing—you’ll have your socks charmed right off you by the likes of the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, St. Francis of Assisi and the Blessed Pope John Paul II.

ONE MORE THING, totally unrelated to Catholics, dairy princesses, or anything on a stick.

But, apparently the latest trend among hip, young Minneapolitans is to carry iced coffee or similar drinks around in a (Mason/Ball/Kerr) pint canning jar.

I learned this from my eldest, who drove down to Faribault Thursday evening so her personal mechanic/Dad could check her car. After we gathered home-grown tomatoes, flowers and a few other niceties for her to take back home to south Minneapolis, she asked if I had any canning jars.

A hip canning jar.

I know my daughter well enough to realize she didn’t need them for canning. Heck, I don’t even can.

So we traipsed down to the basement and poked around until we found two pint jars, rings and lids. She was one happy Uptowner.

SO THERE, I HOPE YOU enjoyed your serving of hotdish. Mighty tasty, huh?

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling