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

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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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

 

Beyond the music: A photo essay from a summer band concert in Faribault July 18, 2016

The Bavarian Musikmeisters, a 35-member band, perform on July 14 at Faribault's Central Park.

The Bavarian Musikmeisters, a 35-member band, perform on July 14 at Faribault’s Central Park.

CONCERTS AND SUMMER pair like music and dancing, paint and a brush, rain and an umbrella.

 

Concert in Central Park 091 - Copy

 

All defined a recent performance by the Bavarian Musikmeisters at Faribault’s Thursday evening summer Concerts in the Park series in Central Park. To an appreciative audience ranging from youth to elders and all ages in between, the Twin Cities based group presented traditional German band music. Waltzes. Polkas. The Schottische. Edelweiss crooned.

It's always fun to photograph dogs.

It’s always fun to photograph dogs.

For 130 years, my community has hosted these free summer concerts. I’ve attended sporadically, more often now that I’m an empty nester. I typically bring my camera because, if I didn’t, I would regret leaving it home. There are always optimal photo ops both on and off stage. I challenge myself to discover new ways of photographing familiar scenes.

Colorful umbrellas popped when the rain started.

Rain chased a few concert-goers home, but not many.

It's been awhile since I've seen a rain cap like this worn by a concert-goer.

This is my favorite photo of the evening, a portrait of a concert-goer in an old-style rain cap. I lover her sweet smile, the character lines in her face…

On this evening, I photographed between raindrops and showers, cognizant of protecting my Canon DSLR. Umbrellas popped and some folks scurried under the shelter of a tree when clouds showered rain.

Faribault artist Dana Hanson paints a portrait of Bob Dylan. She's painting Minnesota Music Hall of Fame members Prince, Judy Garland and Dylan.

Faribault artist Dana Hanson creates a portrait of Bob Dylan. She’s painting Minnesota Music Hall of Fame members Prince, Judy Garland and Dylan.

Using a photo as her guide, Dana works on her Dylan portrait.

Using a photo as her guide, Dana works on her Dylan portrait.

One artist slid her art under a picnic table to protect it from the rain.

One artist slid her art under a picnic table to protect it from the rain.

En plein air artists, protected under a tree, continued creating in the rain. They are part of the concert series artgo! group, started last summer. It’s a wonderful addition, this mixing of art and music.

 

Band concert, 42 band & director

 

When the sun re-emerged, concert-goers refocused on the music of lederhosen clad men and of women dressed in festive dirndls and blouses.

 

Band concert, 55 arms linked

 

At one point, musicians directed the crowd to lock arms and sway to the music.

 

Band concert, 100 dancing

 

Later a couple danced solo in each other’s arms.

 

Band concert, 38 young family

 

Music brings so much joy and togetherness. Smiles prevail. Feet tap a rhythm. Parents wrap kids in their laps.

 

Band concert, 47 man with ear flap cap

 

In typical Minnesota fashion, though, people groused about the unseasonably cool weather, cold enough for one man to pull on his ear flapper cap.

 

Band concert, 34 huddling under Twins fleece blanket

 

Others wrapped themselves in fleece throws.

 

Band concert, 50 dog on lap

 

Dogs warmed owners’ laps.

 

This pin belongs to Lis, pictured several photos above in the fuchsia jacket.

This pin belongs to Lis, pictured several photos above in the fuchsia jacket. Oma is the German word for grandma.

And one woman, especially, warmed my heart after I photographed a World’s Greatest Oma button pinned to her colorful bag. Lis’ fuchsia lips curved into a smile as she shared in a still detectable German accent that she has 21 grandchildren. She came to the U.S. 61 years ago after marrying an American serviceman.

En plein air artist

En plein air artist Irina Mikhaylova uses pastels to capture the other artists at work during the concert. I especially like how she’s sketched her right hand into the drawing.

These are the moments that delight me—these connections, this meeting new people. And all because music brought us here. Together on a July summer evening in southeastern Minnesota.

This Faribault resident and novice watercolor painter set up in the southeast corner of Central Park, from the crowd so he could work solo.

This Faribault resident and novice watercolor artist set up in the southeast corner of Central Park, far from the crowd so he could work undisturbed. I didn’t notice him until the concert nearly concluded, just as he wanted, not to be noticed.

FYI: The next Concerts in the Park concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 21, features the Owatonna Community Band.

On July 28, Red Bank ReUnion/Orphan Brigade Band will perform Civil War era music in Faribault’s Central Park as part of the Northfield-based Vintage Band Festival. That fest features 30 bands giving 100 concerts in four days in outdoor and indoor settings. While most concerts will occur in Northfield, some are also planned for Faribault, Owatonna, Nerstrand, Cannon Falls and Red Wing. Click here for more information.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Garden tour IV: Artscapes, landscapes & even a vineyard July 15, 2016

Like a scene out of a storybook.

Like a scene out of a storybook.

I CAN’T BEGIN TO IMAGINE the time invested in establishing the flowerbeds, the artscapes, the vegetable gardens, the vineyard, the everything that makes DeAnn and Randy Knish’s property so uniquely impressive.

Garden tour guests visit under a towering oak.

Garden tour guests visit under a towering oak on a brilliantly sunny summer afternoon.

Situated west of Faribault, this rural acreage is surrounded by trees that include a sprawling oak in the front yard and a two-centuries-plus aged walnut in woods bordering a creek. The waterway runs pea soup green from nearby Roberds Lake.

Shrub sculptures and art divide vegetable gardens.

Shrub sculptures, art and a path divide vegetable gardens.

When I arrived at the Knish property during a recent The Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour Garden and Landscape Tour benefiting Full Belly, a Faribault soup kitchen, I didn’t know where to begin exploring. There was so much to see:

Sculptures abound in the gardens.

Sculptures abound in the gardens.

Perennials fill flowerbeds.

Strategically placed art enhances perennial beds.

A mirror

A mosaic framed mirror and gnomes are incorporated into the plantings.

A lily bursts a brilliant hue into the gardens.

A lily bursts a brilliant hue into the gardens.

Balls add a playfulness to perennial beds throughout the landscaping.

Balls add a playfulness to perennial beds throughout the landscaping.

This happy elfin face made me smile.

This happy elfin face in a petunia bed makes me smile.

Old-fashioned Holly Hocks rise to the summer sky.

Old-fashioned Holly Hocks rise to the summer sky.

The oversized jacks and balls draw the eye to a place to kick back on Adrionack chairs.

The oversized jacks and balls draw the eye to an inviting spot to kick back on Adirondack chairs.

I set my camera on the ground to photograph this perspective of a fairy garden.

I set my camera on the ground to photograph this perspective of a fairy garden.

Once I finished my self-guided tour and photo shoot of artscapes and flowerbeds, I boarded a golf cart for a ride across the creek and up a hill to the two-acre vineyard.

Touring the vineyard.

Touring the vineyard.

Here, the Knishes grow red grapes for Cannon River Winery in Cannon Falls about 30 miles to the northeast. Their grapes go into GoGo Red wine, a pound of grapes per bottle.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources inspected this tree and estimates its age at 200-225 years, one of the oldest walnut trees in Rice County.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources inspected this tree and estimates its age at 200-225 years, one of the oldest walnut trees in Rice County.

While there was no wine to sample, I was pleased to learn of the Faribault connection to a notable regional winery. And I was pleased also for the opportunity to tour this beautiful place in the country on an equally beautiful summer Sunday afternoon in southern Minnesota.

FYI: Please check back for my final post in this five-part garden tour series.

 

In downtown Faribault: Cars, a friendly competition and a sense of community July 14, 2016

I love love love this car. It helps that green is my favorite color.

Look at this beauty I photographed in June at the Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.

NOT THAT MANY YEARS AGO, you couldn’t have dragged me to a car cruise. I had no interest. Then something changed. I accompanied my husband, an automotive machinist by profession, to a car show. And while my interest is not the same as his, I found reasons to enjoy perusing the showcased vehicles.

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.

The Plymouth ship emblem on this Plymouth features art and history. Photographed at the June Car Cruise Night. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.

For me, the draw is all about photo ops, art, history, stories, the people and a sense of community.

A 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, parked along Central Avenue in downtown Faribault during the July 20 Faribault Car Cruise Night.

A 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, parked along Central Avenue during a previous Car Cruise. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

For Randy, it’s more about what’s under the hood and about the vintage vehicles. He’s my go-to guide for all things automotive.

In a month, 10 people will be awarded these Car Cruise t-shirts if their car club is chosen as a winner in the Car Club Show Down.

In a month, a car club will be awarded a trophy, 10 Car Cruise t-shirts (with the above logo) and bragging rights if chosen as  winner of the Car Club Show Down. To participate, car clubs must register with the Faribault Chamber of Commerce (phone 507.334.4381 or email chamber@faribaultmn.org) by July 29. Each competing club will feature its 10 best cars at the August 19 Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night. Image courtesy of Faribault Main Street.

This Friday evening Faribault Main Street, with the backing of nine local businesses and the local Faribo Drag-On’s (car club), hosts its monthly summer Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. on the 200 and 300 blocks of Central Avenue.

The Gopher Motorsports car and team. Photo from Gopher Motorsports Facebook page.

The Gopher Motorsports car and team. Photo from Gopher Motorsports Facebook page.

The event is growing in popularity as Faribault Main Street changes things up and adds new attractions. This Friday Gopher Motorsports, the University of Minnesota student Chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), team will appear with their global Formuala SAE Series race car. The U will return to Car Cruise Night on August 19 with its solar vehicle.

Parts from this engine block are being used to create a unique trophy.

Parts from this engine block are being used to create a unique trophy. Photo courtesy of Faribault Main Street.

But there’s more. Car Cruise organizers will also unveil a one-of-a-kind trophy to be awarded on August 19 to a single car club in a Car Club Show Down. The trophy, billed as “ridiculously huge,” features parts pulled from an engine block and more. That’s sure to draw interest as a friendly competition begins among car enthusiasts.

A local restaurant set up its food trailer along Central Avenue.

Bashers, a local restaurant, set up its food trailer along Central Avenue at the June Car Cruise. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.

Also new this year is the availability of food and beer from street vendors. Downtown restaurants, bars and a brewery have also always been an option for attendees.

A beautiful historic setting.

Central Avenue in downtown Faribault provides a lovely setting for Car Cruise Night, this one photographed in June. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.

I love what Car Cruise Night is doing for Faribault. It’s bringing folks together on a beautiful summer evening into the heart of our city. It’s building a sense of community, of closeness. It’s generating interest in our historic downtown. And it’s offering a venue for car enthusiasts to showcase their vehicles to those who are motorheads and those, like me, who are not.

My husband and I would love an old pick-up like this, restored, of course.

Photographed at the June Downtown Faribault Car Cruise Night. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.

FYI: Car enthusiasts will have another opportunity to view cars, trucks and tractors during the first-ever Cruise-In Car Show set for 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, at St. John’s United Church of Christ, Wheeling Township. The country church is located at 19086 Jacobs Avenue, rural Faribault. Watch for more information in a future post.

Additionally, on August 26, the North Iowa Vintage Auto Club is traveling from Iowa for a weekend of exploring Faribault.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

A message from Minnesota officers: Let peace prevail July 9, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 2:53 PM
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Peace ad published in Faribault

 

NEARLY NINE HUNDRED MILES from Dallas, Texas, and an hour from Falcon Heights, Minnesota, a message of peace published this morning in my local newspaper, The Faribault Daily News.

The full-page ad on the back page of the front section comes from the Faribault Police Department and the Rice County Sheriff’s Department. In a succinct 13 words, these law enforcement officers deliver a powerful statement to our culturally diverse community.

It is the final three words that I find universally hopeful: Let Peace Prevail.

Let. Peace. Prevail.