Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Lots happening in Faribault (and next-door Northfield) this weekend September 9, 2016

WHETHER YOU’RE SHOPPING for fresh food or antiques or looking for some free family fun this weekend, you’ll find them all in Faribault.

A Minnesota souvenir.

Flea markets yield all types of finds, including commemorative plates like this one from an area flea market. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday and continuing until 2 p.m., vendors will offer antiques, collectibles, crafts, art and more on the Rice County Historical Society grounds, 1814 N.W. Second Avenue, during the RCHS Fall Flea Market. I’ve attended the event several times and enjoy not only the treasure sleuthing but also visiting with friends. If you want to learn about local history, the RCHS Museum of History will be open, too, with free admission during the market.

All ages flocked to the market for Family Day.

Family Day at the Faribault Farmer’s Market in September 2015. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Also along Second Avenue, but blocks away in Central Park near Faribault’s downtown, two more events are slated for Saturday. The Faribault Farmer’s Market celebrates Family Day with games, freebies, a scavenger hunt and more from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. The market itself runs from 7 a.m. – noon. I attended Family Day last year and was pleased with this family-focused addition to the market. It adds an extra element of fun and education and attracts younger people.

recoveryfest-copy

 

When the farmer’s market closes, more fun begins in Central Park with RecoveryFest, an event “to celebrate the positive impact of recovery from chemical dependency.” Music, kids’ activities, art, speakers, a bean bay tourney, food and more are part of the celebration that ends at 9 p.m.

The James-Younger Gang shooting it out during The Defeat of Jesse James parade perhaps five years ago.

The James-Younger Gang shooting it out during The Defeat of Jesse James parade. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2009.

Through-out the weekend, our neighbors to the north in Northfield continue to celebrate The Defeat of Jesse James Days. From bank raid re-enactments to a rodeo to a carnival to the grand finale parade (at 2 p.m. Sunday) and way more, the DJJD is jam-packed with activities commemorating the defeat of the notorious outlaw and his gang in this southeastern Minnesota community in 1876.

Whatever you choose to do this weekend, enjoy. In a week that’s been especially difficult here in Minnesota, we need to find joy in time with family, with friends, and with others in our community. We need to appreciate one another. And life.

TELL ME: What are your plans for the weekend?

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

From Faribault: Visiting the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall September 4, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:51 PM
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Traveling Vietnam wall, #37 vet viewing wall

A Vietnam veteran, who was also serving as a guard for the traveling wall, studies the names thereon.

I DIDN’T EXPECT IT. But the tears came as I spoke with Vietnam veterans while touring the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall on Saturday in Faribault.

This photo in particular, among many on display, struck me.

This photo in particular, among many on display, struck me because of the soldier’s eyes and because of the words on his helmet.

It’s emotional—seeing the pain in eyes, hearing the pain in words, feeling the pain in silence.

An overview of the scene at the Rice County Fairgrounds Saturday afternoon with the wall in the background.

An overview of the scene at the Rice County Fairgrounds Saturday afternoon with the wall in the background.

If you live near this southeastern Minnesota city and have not yet viewed the wall, consider finding time between now and early Monday afternoon to visit the Rice County Fairgrounds.

The words and all those soldiers' names personalize the Vietnam War on the wall.

The words and all those soldiers’ names personalize the Vietnam War on the wall.

If you’re like me, this will prove a powerful, cathartic experience. Healing, for me, came in thanking several Vietnam veterans decades after they should have been thanked and welcomed home.

FYI: Click here to learn more about the wall’s presence in Faribault. And check back to see more photos from my two visits to the wall.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

A preview of the Traveling Vietnam Memorial opening today in Faribault September 1, 2016

These electronic signs are stationed by the Rice County Highway Department building along Minnesota State Highway 3 across from the fairgrounds. They welcomed Vietnam veterans during Wednesday's processional.

These electronic signs are stationed by the Rice County Highway Department building along Minnesota State Highway 3 across from the fairgrounds. They welcomed Vietnam veterans during Wednesday’s processional into Faribault from Owatonna.

IN THE STILL OF THE EVENING, as the sun drenched the last day of August in golden light, a handful of volunteers wrapped up a long day. For a year they’d been planning for this date—the arrival of the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall in Faribault. Late Wednesday afternoon, the pick-up truck and trailer carrying memorial wall panels drove into this southeastern Minnesota city with an honorary escort of bikes, cars, military vehicles and more.

The back of the trailer carrying the wall.

The back of the trailer carrying the wall.

And now, as dusk descended, that trailer rested on a grassy expanse at the Rice County Fairgrounds. Thursday morning volunteers began erecting the 360-foot long by 8-foot high replica wall which officially opens this evening for public viewing at a 6:30 p.m ceremony. There’s a soft opening this afternoon. The wall will remain open 24/7 through the closing ceremony at 1 p.m. on Labor Day.

Signs await posting.

Signs await posting.

But before the crowds arrive—up to 20,000 are expected throughout the wall’s duration in Faribault—I got a preview of what visitors can expect. And what I saw touched me deeply. I can only imagine how the wall, still boxed in the trailer during my pre-unveiling perusal, will impact me.

A close-up of an image on the back of the wall trailer.

A close-up of an image on the back of the wall trailer reveals the number who served.

I could see the emotion in Douglas, a life-long Faribault resident and Vietnam vet I met Wednesday evening while at the fairgrounds. I thanked him for his service. He grew quiet when I mentioned the horrors of war he experienced. But his mood shifted when I talked to him about the earlier processional into town. He appreciated the long overdue public show of respect and welcome home.

Peter Van Sluis, along with his wife, Virginia, and veteran Kirk Mansfield, led efforts to bring the wall to Faribault.

Peter Van Sluis, along with his wife, Virginia, and veteran Kirk Mansfield, led efforts to bring the wall to Faribault.

Inside the information center tent, key organizer Peter Van Sluis bent over his laptop working on last-minute details. We chatted for awhile, Van Sluis pointing me toward the temporary lounge for veterans who likely will need a place to gather their thoughts, to grieve, to cope, to lean on one another.

Signage welcomes veterans only to the veterans' lounge.

Signage welcomes veterans to the veterans’ only lounge.

Locals brought in their personal furniture to furnish the lounge.

Locals brought in their personal furniture to furnish the lounge.

Inside I discovered couches and easy chairs circled into comfy coves, like a family living room. Members of the community pulled the furniture from their homes for the event.

Flags line a wall.

Flags line a wall.

A map posted in the veterans' lounge.

A map posted in the veterans’ lounge.

One of many photos displayed.

One of many Vietnam War photos displayed.

Signs of support, flags, even a map of Vietnam, transform this space from fairgrounds beer garden to veterans’ lounge. In an adjoining room, photos from the Vietnam War are staged on tables and along walls.

 

Vietnam wall preview, #19 Langhorst cross

 

Vietnam wall preview, #18 stacked crosses

 

Vietnam wall preview, #21 two soldiers' crosses

 

Outside, a cluster of white crosses drew me to view images of soldiers, all Minnesotans who have died in wars since 9/11. I imagined the grief of PFC Moises A Langhorst’s family as I studied the freckled face of this 19-year-old killed in Iraq in 2004.

Visitors can view items, like this jeep, part of a military exhibit.

Visitors can view items, like this jeep, part of a military exhibit.

Several military tents have been set up at the fairgrounds.

Several military tents have been set up at the fairgrounds.

A separate field of crosses will honor those from a several county area who died in Vietnam. Such a display personalizes war. And for many of those who visit the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall and the accompanying displays, including items from a military museum, the impact will feel deeply personal.

Used during the Vietnam War, this 1968 boat is pocked with bullet holes. A viewing stairway will give visitors access to an interior view.

Used during the Vietnam War, this 1968 boat is pocked with bullet holes. A viewing stairway will allow visitors to see the interior.

I noticed this sticker on the end of the boat.

I noticed this sticker on the end of the boat.

I listened as a Vietnam vet, standing next to a military boat used in Vietnam, mentioned the expected arrival of another boat in which soldiers were blown apart. As the daughter of a Korean War veteran, I cringed inwardly, remembering similar stories shared by my combat soldier father. None of this is easy.

The area set aside for protesters on the northwest side of the fairgrounds.

The area set aside for protesters, and posted as such, on the northwest side of the fairgrounds.

Organizer Van Sluis expects some veterans to struggle. And he also expects protesters of the Vietnam War. A special area has been set aside for them. I’d never thought of that possibility. And, as I considered likely protests, I thought, yes, this too is part of living in a free country.

The front of the wall trailer delivers a message of honor and respect.

The front of the wall trailer delivers a message of honor and respect.

It is because of the sacrifices of our military men and women that we are free, and remain free.

FYI: Click here to see a full schedule of events, for directions to the Rice County Fairgrounds and more.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

In Faribault: A Willow Street welcome honoring Vietnam War vets August 31, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:12 PM
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Vietnam Wall Memorial processional, #72 group by my house

 

A DOZEN OF US GATHERED late Wednesday afternoon in my front yard to honor those who served and those who died in the Vietnam War.

 

Vietnam Wall Memorial processional, #4 drawing flag with chalk

 

As we waited for the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall to arrive from Owatonna, the adults chatted. And some of the kids chalked American flags onto the sidewalk fronting my Willow Street property.

 

Vietnam Memorial Wall processional, #1 woman waiting with flag

Across the street a woman waits for the processional to begin.

Three American flags, spaced evenly along the boulevard, lifted occasionally in the breeze on a stunning August day here in southeastern Minnesota.

Leading the way...

Leading the way…

The Wall processional presented a great opportunity to honor these veterans. How well I remember the protests of decades earlier, the unrest and open hostilities expressed toward Vietnam vets. On this day in my community, in my neighborhood, in my yard, we gave them the respect they deserved. Whether or not you agree with the war matters not. Respect matters.

 

Vietnam Wall Memorial processional, #16 back of beginning

 

I saw honor in the lengthy lines of bikes, cars and other vehicles, in the waves, the American flags…

 

Vietnam Wall Memorial processional, #19 watching

 

There’s something deeply moving about participating in an event like this. I can only imagine the emotions felt by the Vietnam veterans who today—from Owatonna to Medford to Faribault and in between—witnessed a warm welcome home.

 

Vietnam Wall Memorial processional, #25 jeep

 

Vietnam Wall Memorial processional, #29 red jeep with wall sign

 

Vietnam Wall Memorial processional, #30 row of bikers

 

Vietnam Wall Memorial processional, #32 trike

 

Vietnam Wall Memorial processional, #34 back of 2 bikes

 

Vietnam Wall Memorial processional, #40 bikes and flags

 

Vietnam Wall Memorial processional, #46 biker & POW flag

 

Vietnam Wall Memorial processional, #49 biker waving

 

Vietnam Wall Memorial processional, #50 bikes

 

Vietnam Wall Memorial processional, #57 Vietnam vet on bike

 

Vietnam Wall Memorial processional, #58 red car

 

The Traveling Wall arrives in a trailer near the end of the processional.

The Traveling Wall arrives in a trailer near the end of the processional.

Volunteers will be setting up the wall on Thursday morning at the fairgrounds.

Volunteers will be setting up the wall on Thursday morning at the fairgrounds.

The trailer and accompanying vehicles continue north on Willow Street.

The trailer and accompanying vehicles continue north on Willow Street.

 

Vietnam Wall Memorial processional, #71 vets van

 

Vietnam Wall Memorial processional, #76 utility vehicle

 

Vietnam Wall Memorial processional, #9 American flag in chalk

My friend’s teenage daughter chalks a message of thanks on the sidewalk in front of my home.

FYI: The Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall opens Thursday afternoon at the Rice County Fairgrounds in Faribault. Click here for a detailed schedule of events from now through Labor Day. Check back for a follow-up post on a pre-eve stop I made at the fairgrounds.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

In Faribault: Prepping & waiting for the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 1:28 PM
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IN A FEW HOURS, the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall arrives in Faribault.

I am prepping. And so are others.

 

Vietnam Wall prep, #1 bikers

 

Around noon, a contingent of bikers, motorists and others swept past my Willow Street home en route to the Steele County Fairgrounds in Owatonna. There the group will gather for a 3 p.m. departure. The entourage will travel through Owatonna, Medford and into Faribault, ending at the wall construction site, the Rice County Fairgrounds.

 

Vietnam Wall prep, #13 red vehicle

 

Here at my home, three flags are staked in the boulevard, a sight that prompted the Faribault group to honk horns and wave as they passed by.

 

Vietnam Wall prep, #24 basket of American flags

 

A basket of American flags sits inside my front door, awaiting kids I expect here for the processional. I’ve dug out the sidewalk chalk to keep them busy while waiting. Ice cream treats are stashed in the freezer. Water bottles are cooling in the fridge.

 

Vietnam Wall prep, #25 patriotic t-shirt

 

I’ve swiped my husband’s American flag t-shirt from his dresser drawer.

Shortly before invited friends, and maybe others, arrive, I’ll spray for mosquitoes.

Today’s processional promises to be a memorable and moving experience, especially for those of us old enough to remember Vietnam. I expect the kids to learn something today about this chapter in America’s history.

Faribault, I hope you will show your honor and respect by lining the processional route and by showcasing your patriotism with American flags.

Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

 

 

Vietnam wall replica arrives in Faribault today with opportunities to honor & heal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Many Vietnam veterans attended the ceremony.

I photographed this Vietnam veteran during a ceremony at Faribault American Legion Post 43 in July 2013. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

VIETNAM WAR. Those two words can create angst in those of us who remember that turbulent time in our nation’s history. Unrest and protests headlined media coverage. Veterans found themselves returning to a country ungrateful for their service. They were shunned, neglected, disrespected.

But today, with decades since the end of that war and with an aging population of Vietnam veterans, thinking has shifted and we as Americans recognize the need to honor these men and women who served and those who died doing so.

The Harley dress code: black leather.

Bikers will be among those escorting the traveling wall from Owatonna, through Medford and into Faribault between 3 – 4 p.m. today. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

This afternoon in my southeastern Minnesota community of Faribault, the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall arrives under escort for a several-day stay at the Rice County Fairgrounds. For those living along the route, like me, this presents a public opportunity to pay respect. I hope Faribault residents and others will show an enthusiastic and honorable patriotic welcome as the motorcade proceeds through town. Click here to see the specific processional route for the entourage, expected to arrive here around 3:30 p.m. today.

I hope, too, that many will visit this 80 percent replica wall of the original memorial in Washington, D.C. It will be open 24/7 from Thursday afternoon through early afternoon on Labor Day. I am certain seeing the thousands of names thereon will make a powerful personal impact.

A young boy peruses the pavers honoring veterans at the Rice County Veterans Memorial in Faribault.

Pavers at the Rice County Veterans Memorial in Faribault honor Vietnam and other veterans. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

There is hope also among local organizers for healing as written in their mission statement:

To offer veterans and visitors an opportunity to experience both an educational and healing experience, and offer an important historical contribution to the understanding of our nation’s history.

Healing is possible, even decades after the Vietnam War ended.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Faribault Car Cruise season closes with impressive finale August 30, 2016

This cute little 1959 Metropolitan drew lots of attention as did its companion one several blocs away.

This cute little 1959 Metropolitan drew lots of attention as did its companion one several blocks away.

I COULD FEEL THE ENERGY, the vibe, the excitement on Friday evening in historic downtown Faribault.

This little guy was enthralled with the University of Minnesota's solar car.

This little guy was enthralled with the University of Minnesota’s solar car.

I could see the enthusiasm, the sense of community, the togetherness.

Another view of the U's solar car.

Another view of the U’s solar car.

And I heard the positive comments—the praise for Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night and the number of collector vehicles and people the event drew. Even I couldn’t believe the scene before me as my husband and I arrived downtown an hour after the cruise started.

The crowd and vehicles stretched for blocks along Faribault's Central Avenue for Car Cruise Night.

The crowd and vehicles stretched for blocks along Faribault’s Central Avenue for Car Cruise Night.

Rather than filling the typical 1 ½ to 2 city blocks, vehicles lined four blocks of Central Avenue from Fourth Street to the Buckham Center. And the crowd of car enthusiasts far outnumbered any I’ve ever seen at these monthly cruise nights. That says a lot for the organizer—Faribault Main Street—and others who are embracing this ever-growing gathering.

One of the most unusual vehicles included this one. There's hole in the hood that allows the motor part to extend through the hood and for the vehicle to be driven.

This unusual vehicle drew lots of interest. There’s hole in the hood that allows the inner workings to extend through the hood and for the vehicle to be driven.

While I initially planned to leave my camera at home, because I’ve photographed Cruise Night many times already, I knew I would regret doing so. It was the right decision to sling my Canon 20-D across my shoulder and document whatever caught my eye. That included many many vehicles I have not seen at past Car Cruise Nights. Here’s some of what I saw:

Another favorite of mine: a 1955 Chevy Nomad two-door wagon.

Another favorite of mine: a 1955 Chevy Nomad two-door wagon, left.

A buick

Collectible car owners crossed the border from Iowa to participate in the Friday Car Cruise Night. Here’s a beautiful 1955 Buick.

A 1977

Another Iowa car: a 1977 Olds Cutlass Supreme

My appreciation for vehicles, like this Ford Torino, extends to the details. Love this artsy front end.

My appreciation for vehicles, like this Ford Torino, extends to the details. Love this artsy front end.

This Chrysler LeBaron doesn't seen all that old to me. That tells me something. I like the plain canvas backdrop of building #117, which has always been a mystery to me.

This Chrysler LeBaron doesn’t seen all that old to me. What does that tell you about my age? I appreciate the plain canvas backdrop of building #117, which has always been a mystery to me.

When a particularly noisy souped up car roared down Central Avenue, this boy covered his ears. I did the same.

When a particularly noisy souped up car roared down Central Avenue, this boy covered his ears. I did the same after snapping this image.

That would be a Mercedes.

That would be a Mercedes.

This 1956 Pontiac features a Continental kit which allows the spare tire to be attached to the back.

This 1956 Pontiac features a Continental kit which allows the spare tire to be attached to the back.

I always people watch. I have no idea why this couple was lying on the sidewalk at the intersection of Central Avenue and Fourth Street.

I always people-watch. I have no idea why this couple was lying on the sidewalk at the intersection of Central Avenue and Fourth Street.

One of the most unusual cars: a 1959 Ford Skyliner with a folding trunk.

One of the most unusual cars: a 1959 Ford Skyliner with a retractable roof, truly an engineering feat.

Hood ornaments always interest me for their artsy beauty.

Hood ornaments always interest me for their artsy beauty.

Volkswagons always

Although I don’t find the Volkswagen a particularly comfortable car (I once rode in one all the way from Mankato to central Wisconsin and back), I appreciate their unique style and cuteness factor.

Look closely and you'll find plenty of humor at a car show.

Look closely and you’ll find plenty of humor at a car cruise.

That's a chopped Model A, left.

That’s a chopped Model A, left.

As day faded into darkness, I photographed these Fords parked outside on the Faribault's oldest family-run businesses, Burkhartzmeyer Shoes.

As day faded into darkness, I photographed these Fords parked outside one of Faribault’s oldest family-run businesses, Burkhartzmeyer Shoes.

It was a perfect August summer evening in Faribault with the sky tinted red as the sun set, here looking toward the historic Buckham Memorial Library.

It was a perfect August summer evening in Faribault with the sky tinted red as the sun set, here looking toward the historic Buckham Memorial Library and the community center.

I love the hue of this unidentified vintage car.

I love the hue of this unidentified vintage car.

Although certainly not old, this Dodge Challenger Hellcat drew lots of admirers as the headlights changed colors: red, green and purple.

Although certainly not old, this Dodge Challenger Hellcat drew lots of admirers as the headlights changed colors: red, green and purple.

FYI: The Faribo Drag Ons won the first-ever Car Club Showdown on Friday evening and received a gigantic homemade trophy. (I missed the presentation.)

Friday’s event closes the 2016 Car Cruise Night season in Faribault. The event resumes in the spring. And from all indications (I talked to a key organizer and got an inside track), next year promises even more new attractions to draw folks into downtown Faribault. And that is a good thing.

A special thanks to my automotive machinist/car enthusiast husband, Randy, for his help in identifying the vehicles featured in this post.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling