Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In the Pumpkin Patch under the bridge in Wabasha October 13, 2017

 

MASSIVE MAMMOTH PUMPKINS sprawl across brick and cement walkways under the bridge in Wabasha in this season of autumn. Here among dried leaves drifted from trees and below traffic crossing the Mississippi River between Minnesota and Wisconsin, locals have staged the Pumpkin Patch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a place that attracts all ages, that draws people here to wander among the gigantic pumpkins somehow wrangled into place. This year’s winning pumpkin, grown by Gary Russell of Plainview, weighs 879 pounds. That’s a lot of pumpkin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As enthralled as I was by these hefty pumpkins, I observed that my 18-month-old granddaughter and a lot of other kids (and their parents and grandparents) and others were equally as impressed.

 

My granddaughter carries a bean bag to toss into the candy corn prop.

 

 

 

 

The Pumpkin Patch certainly celebrates the season with pumpkins of all sizes, festive fall displays, themed kids’ games, occasional pony rides and music, and more. It’s the perfect mix to bring people to this spot, to draw them into nearby boutiques, eateries and more as they explore this southeastern Minnesota river town.

 

Izzy loves owls, including this one painted onto a tree in a bean bag toss game.

 

 

 

Families pose for photos on the stage against backdrops of fall decor.

 

Just across the street, more autumn-themed activities await families. Check back tomorrow as I showcase that portion of Wabasha’s SeptOberfest celebration.  Wabasha wins my high praise for crafting creative spaces that focus on families and celebrate autumn in Minnesota.

 

FYI: For more details on all events in Wabasha’s nearly two-month-long SeptOberfest, click here.

To read about Zootopia on the RiverFront, my first post in this three-part series from Wabasha, click here.

 

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

How Faribault celebrated its cultural diversity on one day in August August 22, 2015

The flag ceremony featured national anthems and information about the countries from which Faribault residents have originated.

The flag ceremony featured national anthems and information about the countries from which Faribault residents have originated.

FRIENDS, FLAGS, FOOD, FUN…all melded in Faribault Saturday for the 10th annual International Festival Faribault.

Representing the country of Sudan.

Representing the country of Sudan.

Despite a fierce wind that ripped tent poles from the ground and hastened events along under a forecast of stormy weather, nothing could quell the enthusiasm for this gathering.

Friends

Friends

Friends

Friends

Festival, friends 3

Friends

Smiles abounded. Everywhere.

The festival was truly a family event for all cultures.

The festival was truly a family event for all cultures.

It was a feel-good family event,

Pork and plenty of cilantro.

Pork and plenty of cilantro.

an opportunity to try ethnic foods,

An Aztec dancer

A dancer from Ollin Ayacaxtly Aztec Dancers.

An Aztec dancer's costume details.

An Aztec dancer’s costume details.

Aztec dancers

Aztec dancers

a place to be entertained by skillful dancers,

Kids used markers to create flags from their native countries.

Kids used markers to create flags from their native countries.

an educational day,

Flags representing Faribault residents lined the sidewalk.

Flags representing Faribault residents lined the sidewalk.

Henna art

Henna art

Attendees watch the flag ceremony.

On stage and off, cultures mingled.

a mingling of the many cultures that call Faribault home.

A candid moment: just two boys on bikes.

A candid moment: just two boys on bikes.

I am grateful for festivals like this in my southeastern Minnesota community. When I see the togetherness, especially among the children, I have hope.

Beautiful henna art.

Beautiful henna art.

Hope that we can see beyond the color of our skin,

Just a kid having fun.

Just a kid having fun.

beyond the differences in language and dress and food to that which unites us—the fact that we are all people, just people.

FYI: Please check back for more photos from the International Festival Faribault.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Festival celebrates Faribault’s cultural diversity August 20, 2015

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

Faribault is becoming an ever diverse community as shown in this photo from a recent Friday evening Car Cruise Night. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo July 2015.

Neighbor meeting neighbor.

I like that phrase tagged by the International Festival Faribault planning committee to an event celebrating my community’s cultural diversity.

Conversation and connecting..., no other words necessary.

Conversation and connecting…, no other words necessary for this photo taken at a previous fest. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

When we personalize, then we begin to see beyond the differences. We see individuals rather than skin color or clothing. We hear the person and not the language. We connect. We become neighbors.

A member of Ollin Ayacaxtli dances at Faribault's International Market Day celebration.

A member of Ollin Ayacaxtly Aztec Dancers performs at a previous International Festival Faribault, Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday, August 22, the Faribault community comes together in Central Park for this 10th annual celebration of diversity. International Festival Faribault aims to promote an understanding between cultures and to unite the community with music, dance, art, ethnic foods and merchandise.

A little girl stands on the opposite side of the group of children waiting to swing at the pinata.

A little girl stands on the opposite side of the group of children waiting to swing at the pinata during the 2012 festival. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo. I won first place for this image in the “personal heritage” category of the 2014 Faribault Heritage Days Photo Contest.

I’ve attended the festival numerous times and delight in this opportunity to meet others, to sample ethnic foods, to listen to music, to check out the art and more. My favorite has always been observing children gathered to break pińatas. It is then that I see the possibilities for Faribault. We can learn from these kids who care not about differences but rather are focused as one on a single goal.

On Saturday, let that goal be neighbor meeting neighbor.

A woman, without my prompting, took this mask from the table manned by Bashir Omar and Asher Ali and asked me to photograph her.

Art showcased by a vendor at the 2012 festival. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Here’s the International Festival Faribault entertainment schedule:

  • 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. – Steve Huber on acoustic guitar
  • 11 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.- Otto & Celia – Guatemalan singers on keyboard; Patti Letona – Guatemalan singer; and Eliana Tobar – El Salvadorian singer
  • 11:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. – Selvin – Guatemalan dancer
  • 11:45 a.m. – noon – Children’s Dance Performance by Florecitas de Dios
  • noon – 1 p.m. – Ollin Ayacaxtly Aztec Dancers
  • 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. – Flag Ceremonies (national anthems and salutes)
  • 2 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – South Sudanese music and dancers
  • 2:30 p.m. – 3 p.m. – Cambodian dancers
  • 3 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Hula Hoop Performance by Adrienne Lee
  • 3:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Breaking of piñatas

FYI: Admittance to International Festival Faribault is free.

 

Six-plus great reasons to visit Faribault this weekend August 6, 2015

WHETHER YOU LOVE pets, BBQ, art and a whole lot more, you will find it all in Faribault during the next four days. It’s as if my Southern Minnesota community has been saving a summer’s worth of activities for one weekend plus Thursday.

These students were hammering and chiseling away during a class, making quite a racket in the ice arena/fest site.

These students were hammering and chiseling away during a class, making quite a racket in the ice arena/fest site during the 2012 festival. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2012.

Events kick off Thursday evening with Minnesota’s annual woodcarving festival, Carv-Fest, opening in the Faribault Ice Arena at North Alexander Park. Expert woodcarvers teach classes and the general public is free to wander and observe. Faribault is home to noted woodcarvers from the Whillock family (who organize this event) and Marv Kaisersatt. The fest runs Thursday – Saturday.

Lots of dogs and that 1939 date on the right side of the mural.

A section of the Pet Parade mural on the bandshell in Faribault’s Central Park. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

At 7 p.m. Thursday, Faribault hosts its 79th annual Pet Parade. The “Into the Jungle” theme promises plenty of creative entries. The cuteness factor rules here.

As dusk settled, volunteers begin lighting the luminaries which stretched and wound around the Rice County Fairgrounds.

As dusk settled, volunteers begin lighting the luminaries which wound around the Rice County Fairgrounds during the 2012 Relay for Life.

Friday brings the 23rd annual Relay for Life of Rice County. Several times I’ve attended this gathering to honor and remember those who have faced cancer and to raise monies and awareness. Most impressive are the honorary luminaries circling the fairgrounds. Activities begin at 4 p.m. and continue late into the evening with closing events the next morning.

Information about the Pregnancy Options LifeCare Center was available at the concert.

The Center promotes life-affirming solutions for women. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Saturday promises to be a jam-packed day in Faribault beginning with the Run Baby Run! 10K, 5K and kids run sponsored by the Pregnancy Options LifeCare Center in support of life. Registration runs from 7:30 a.m. – 8:15 a.m. at Roosevelt Elementary School.

Bikers and others gather for a post hospice ride party at Faribault Harley-Davidson.

Bikers and others gather for a post hospice ride party at Faribault Harley-Davidson in 2012.

Across town The Ride for Hospice at Faribault Harley-Davidson begins with bikes and cars leaving mid-morning. From noon to 2 p.m., there will be food, music and prizes at the Harley shop.

With the weather about as good as it gets on a summer day, attendance was high at the Blue Collar BBQ & Arts Fest.

A street scene from the 2012 Blue Collar BBQ & Arts Fest.

Meanwhile, in the heart of historic downtown Faribault, art and food lovers will gather for the annual Blue Collar BBQ & Arts Fest from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. There’s a BBQ competition, plenty of food vendors, an art/market fair, recycled art sale, music, kids’ activities, washer tournament and beer garden. The fest raises monies for the Paradise Center for the Arts and the Faribault Mural Society.

And if that isn’t enough. Bethlehem Academy, the Catholic school in town, chose this weekend to celebrate its 150th anniversary.

Crafty signage suspended high in a window at The Crafty Maven hints at the crafty goodness you will find inside this historic building at

Crafty signage suspended high in a window at The Crafty Maven hints at the crafty goodness you will find inside this historic building. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Aside from all the organized activities, Faribault is worth a visit for its historic downtown with quaint shops. Among my favorite is The Crafty Maven which is across the street from a new bakery, Ginger Spice Bakery, 209 Central Avenue. The bakery opens its doors on Friday.

An overview of the Peterson building which houses architectural salvage and antiques, left, with the brewery on the left.

F-Town Brewing, Faribault’s new craft brewery. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

And for you beer lovers, check out F-Town Brewing.

Things are happening in Faribault. I just wish everything wasn’t on the same weekend.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Farming of yesteryear remembered & celebrated at show August 30, 2014

IT’S MOSTLY ABOUT THE MEMORIES, I’ve decided.

A snippet of the tractors displayed at the show.

A snippet of the tractors and more displayed at the Rice County Steam & Gas Engines Show.

Past memories.

Spotted at the flea market...

Spotted at the flea market…

And building memories.

A sign along Highway 3 welcomes visitors.

A sign along Highway 3 welcomes visitors.

The Rice County Steam & Gas Engines, Inc., annual Labor Day weekend show, which continues through Sunday, brought back many memories for me as I wandered among tractors and flea market merchandise and more for nearly four hours Saturday.

The young and the older guide a John Deere toward the parade route.

The young and the older guide a John Deere toward the parade route.

Curve of a Surge milking machine. Putt-putt-putt of a John Deere tractor chugging along the tractor parade route.

Al and Marllene Sutherland of Country Junction, Tripoli, Iowa, pose with the replica small scale farm buildings Al constructs from memory. The corn crib in the foreground includes 400 pieces and sells for $200.

Al and Marlene Sutherland of Country Junction, Tripoli, Iowa, pose with the replica small scale farm buildings Al constructs. He taps into his memory to design and build the buildings. The corn crib in the foreground includes 400 pieces and sells for $200.

The agrarian lines of a corn crib.

Vintage oil cans grabbed my attention at the flea market.

Vintage oil cans grabbed my attention at the flea market.

A Midland oil can. An NFO sign. All so familiar.

Rows and rows of tractors, including these John Deeres, line the grounds.

Rows and rows of tractors, including these John Deeres, line the grounds.

As I paused to admire an aged, rusty John Deere, an elderly woman said the green machine brought tears to her eyes. It was exactly like the one her father drove.

Brothers William and Jacob climb atop a Farmall.

Brothers William and Jacob climb atop a Farmall.

Nearby, grandparents smiled as their two great grandsons climbed onto a Farmall. Building memories.

Several steam engines are part of the exhibition.

Several steam engines are part of the exhibition.

If you’re into farming of yesteryear and flea markets, then consider attending this event. Gates open at 7 a.m. Sunday and close at 5:30 p.m. A tractor pull is slated for 9 a.m. Admission is $8 with 12 and under free.

Ford tractors, including this one from Westbrook Ag Power (where my oldest brother is co-owner)

Fords, including this one from Westbrook Ag Power (where my oldest brother is part owner) were the featured tractor at this year’s show. This Ford is owned by a rural Northfield man.

The show grounds is located three miles south of Northfield on Minnesota State Highway 3. For more information, click here.

BONUS PHOTOS:

You can buy a chance to win a Golden Jubilee 1950s Ford being raffled by the Rice County Steam & Gas Engines, Inc.

You can buy a chance to win a Golden Jubilee 1953 Ford tractor being raffled by Rice County Steam & Gas Engines, Inc.

Checking out the Minneapolis Molines.

Checking out the Minneapolis Molines.

My favorite t-shirt of the day. The show presents a rural fashion statement.

My favorite t-shirt of the day. The show always offers photo-worthy rural fashion shots.

Every time I attend this show, I order a BBQ shredded pork sandwich from the Rice and Dakota County Pork Producers.

Every time I attend this show, I order a BBQ shredded pork sandwich from the Rice and Dakota County Pork Producers.

PLEASE CHECK BACK for more photos from the Rice County Steam & Gas Engines Show.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Crazy about cars in Kenyon, Part II August 26, 2014

Vintage vehicles lined several blocks of a residential neighborhood just off the main drag through town, Minnesota State Highway 60. The location was perfect for those wishing to check out the downtown.

Vintage vehicles lined several blocks of a residential neighborhood just off the main drag, Minnesota State Highway 60. The location was perfect for those wishing to check out downtown Kenyon.

A RECENT CAR SHOW in Kenyon, at this southern Minnesota community’s annual Rose Fest, presented a multitude of photo ops.

I'm always drawn to details like this dice on a lock.

I’m always drawn to details like this die on a lock.

I focused on the shiny, the unusual, the beautiful, the interesting, the whatever caught my eye.

I called this a hippie van.

I called this a hippie van.

And between all that photographing, I met John, a former co-worker of my husband, and John’s wife, Diane. John and Randy had not seen each other in something like 35 years, when they worked together at a Rochester automotive parts store. John recognized Randy first. It was a wonderful moment, to see these two guys reconnect.

So sometimes it is not all about the cars. It is about the people and the moments. And rats if I didn’t fail to photograph that reunion.

Enjoy these images from the Rose Fest Car Show, minus John and Randy.

I prefer original, but some guys like to modify their cars.

I prefer original, but some guys like to modify their cars.

Love the graceful curves of this Bel Air.

Love the graceful curves of this Bel Air.

A mini version of the car always draws my artistic attention.

A mini version of the car always draws my artistic attention.

Composing this image, I appreciated the melding of car and beautiful house. Turns out the house is a funeral home.

Composing this image, I appreciated the melding of car and beautiful house. Turns out the house is a funeral home.

So many trophies I wondered if everyone gets one.

So many trophies I wondered if everyone gets one.

I'm ever watchful for shiny bumpers and reflections.

I’m ever watchful for shiny bumpers and reflections.

Remember going to the A & W drive-in?

Remember going to the A & W drive-in?

I still don't understand this staging.

I still don’t understand this staging.

All original.

All original.

Always appreciate the dice.

Always appreciate the dice.

A Chevy my husband likely wishes he owned.

A Chevy my husband likely wishes he owned.

Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

 

Roses & cars in Kenyon August 25, 2014

Kenyon, Minnesota, welcomes visitors to its recent Rose Fest.

Kenyon, Minnesota, welcomes visitors to its recent Rose Fest.

WOULD YOU EXPECT to find roses at a car show?

I thought not.

One of many beautiful roses spotted at the car show.

One of many beautiful roses spotted at the car show.

But in the small southern Minnesota community of Kenyon, organizers of the Rose Fest Car Show handed out roses to early arrivals. How sweet is that?

Another rose spotted...

Another rose spotted…

An unexpected surprise. A rose on a dashboard. A rose lying on a car seat. A rose on an engine.

Kenyon's Boulevard of Roses cuts through Minnesota Highway 60.

Kenyon’s Boulevard of Roses cuts through Minnesota Highway 60. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Now I’ve been to quite a number of car shows, but never to the one in Kenyon, where roses are planted for blocks in the boulevard of Minnesota State Highway 60 running through the heart of town.

This car show impressed me. I can’t pinpoint precisely why I so enjoyed this show. But I found lots to draw my eye from the quirky to the nostalgic to the shiny and more.

Enjoy these images from the Rose Fest Car Show. And then check back tomorrow for more photos.

Loved this car.

Loved this car.

My absolute favorite moment, and shot, for the wistfulness. He was so immersed in admiring those trophies that he didn't even notice me snapping away.

My absolute favorite moment, and shot. This boy was so immersed in admiring trophies that he didn’t even notice me.

But Chad noticed me because I asked him to stand still so I could photograph his tattoo

But Chad noticed me because I asked him to stand still so I could photograph the tattoo of his 1958 VW bus Westfalia…

...which looks like this from the front.

…which looks like this from the front…

...and this inside, all ready for camping.

…and this inside, all ready for camping.

Definitely not as family-friendly as Chad's VW bus art.

Definitely not as family-friendly as Chad’s VW bus art.

Another favorite of mine, the Roadrunner.

Another favorite of mine, the Roadrunner.

Every vehicle is marked, so if you're a serious student of vintage cars (I'm not), the necessary info is right there.

Every vehicle is marked, so if you’re a serious student of vintage cars (I’m not), the necessary info is right there.

I've never seen anything like this backward opening hood.

I’ve never seen anything like this backward opening hood.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Celebrating my community’s many cultures at International Festival Faribault August 21, 2014

IN A SOUTHERN MINNESOTA COMMUNITY which is growing ever more diverse, the need for understanding among cultures seems not an option, but a must.

A Somali family waits to cross a street in downtown Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2010.

A Somali family waits to cross a street in downtown Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2010.

If we’re to live and work and play in the same town, then we need to meet one another, to educate ourselves, to be open to the differences that define us.

International Festival Faribault presents an opportunity to do just that from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. this Saturday, August 23. Via music, ethnic food, art, children’s activities and more, the cultures of our diverse community will be showcased and celebrated in Central Park.

Several Latinos lead in singing of Mexico's national anthem last September during the International Festival Faribault at Faribault's Central Park.

Several Latinos lead in singing of Mexico’s national anthem during a previous International Festival Faribault at Faribault’s Central Park. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

At the hour-long flag ceremony, which begins at 11:30 a.m., the flags and national anthems of 18 nations, from the U.S. to Somalia, South Sudan, Mexico and more will be presented. It’s a moving ceremony that visually impresses the diversity of those who call Faribault and the surrounding area home.

A Mexican dish (help me out if you know, but I think tortillas) was wrapped in banana leaves. My husband and I tried this.

A Mexican dish wrapped in banana leaves. My husband and I tried this at a past fest. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

And then there are food booths, where you can sample ethnic dishes from countries like Somalia, Honduras, Norway and more.

Lul Abdi shows off beautiful wood crafts from Kenya and Somalia.

Lul Abdi shows off beautiful wood crafts from Kenya and Somalia during a past fest. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Others will vend native art.

Served at the 2011 fest: Guatemalan chuchitos-- chicken, corn and salsa wrapped in a corn husk.  You'll find numerous vendors offering a variety of authentic international foods.

Served at the 2011 fest: Guatemalan chuchitos– chicken, corn and salsa wrapped in a corn husk. You’ll find numerous vendors offering a variety of authentic international foods. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

I’ve attended this festival several times and each time have left with a better understanding of my neighbors. The key is to visit with folks who are from a country other than your own. Don’t just buy a chuchito or a tamale or some other food and walk away. Chat it up with the vendor.

Faribault High School seniors Shukri Aden, left, and Khadra Muhumed.

At a past fest, I spoke with then Faribault High School seniors Shukri Aden, left, and Khadra Muhumed. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

I am convinced that personal connections are the key to understanding and overcoming the barriers that separate cultures.

Conversation and connecting..., no other words necessary.

Conversing and connecting at a previous fest. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Long-time residents and newbies alike must reach out to one another to bridge the gaps of misunderstandings and preconceived notions that exist. And they do. Exist. I hear the prejudicial comments way too often. We must learn to respect one another.

That same little boy who was so intently focused on the musician.

One of my favorite fest portraits. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

It is the kids who give me the most hope. They don’t seem to notice the differences in skin color, language and culture. And they are a primary focus of International Festival Faribault. The local United Way will give away children’s books. There will be a children’s dance performance and a bouncy tent.

Happy children all focused on the same goal: breaking the pinata.

Happy children all focused on the same goal: breaking the pinata near the Central Park Bandshell. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

But the highlight, in my opinion, is the breaking of piñatas at 3:30 p.m. I’ve witnessed this event several times with children of many ethnic backgrounds standing side-by-side. Their smiles are wide. And so are those of the adults observing how piñatas can bring together cultures. Together.

A member of Ollin Ayacaxtli dances at Faribault's International Market Day celebration.

A member of Ollin Ayacaxtli dances at a past fest. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Here’s a schedule of festival events:

10 – 10:45 a.m.: Otto & Celia, Hispanic singers on keyboard
10:45 – 11 a.m.: Selvia, Guatemalan dancer
11 – 11:30 a.m.: Ollin Ayacaxtli Aztec Dancers
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Flag ceremony
12:30 – 1 p.m.: Children’s dance performance by Florecitas de Dios
1 – 2 p.m.: River Mill Band performs (combination of newgrass and folk)
2 – 3 p.m.: South Sudanese music and dancers
3 – 3:30 p.m.: Hula hoop performance by Adrienne Lee & Jugglers
3:30 p.m.: Breaking of piñatas and end of silent auction

A little girl stands on the opposite side of the group of children waiting to swing at the pinata.

A little girl stands on the opposite side of the group of children waiting to swing at the pinata. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Additionally, non-profits will be at the festival to focus on immigrants. Rice County Public Health will give guided tours of the Faribault Farmer’s Market (also happening at the park during morning hours) in Somali and Spanish. The American Association of University Women will offer children’s activities. HealthFinders Collaborative, the Faribault Diversity Coalition, Greater Upper Nile Community Services & Development and more will also be at the fest. A silent auction features about $3,000 in donated items.

To learn more about International Festival Faribault, click here. And then click here.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Going strong for 122 years: Good old-fashioned Fourth of July fun in North Morristown July 1, 2014

JULY FOURTH in North Morristown is like a step back in time, a true grassroots celebration in the heart of rural southern Minnesota farm land.

A large crowd enjoys a free afternoon concert by Monroe Crossing.

A large crowd enjoys a free afternoon concert by Monroe Crossing on July 4, 2013. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Since 1892—that’s 122 years if you’re counting—Trinity Lutheran Church and School have observed our nation’s birthday, giving it the distinction as the oldest Fourth of July celebration in Minnesota.

The country church and school, and a cluster of several farm sites, are North Morristown, set among fields of corn and soybeans in Rice County west of Faribault.

The event is held at the North Morristown picnic grounds in southwestern Rice County.

The Fourth of July celebration is held at the North Morristown festival grounds, pictured here, in southwestern Rice County. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

At 9 a.m. on July 4, stands and games open at the festival grounds across from Trinity. The grounds remain open until after the 10 p.m. fireworks.

This is an event which offers a day of good old-fashioned fun and memory-building for all ages, including the 10 a.m. parade that runs a block, or maybe two.

An overview of the novelties shoppe and games and rides building.

An overview of the novelties shoppe and games and rides building. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

I can’t recall how many times I’ve been to North Morristown on the Fourth. But enough that I’d recommend this celebration to anyone, especially those seeking a sense of simplicity, community, history, patriotism and Americana. All define the Fourth of July here.

A peek inside the ice cream shoppe.

A peek inside the ice cream shoppe. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

From the parade to the flag raising to the patriotic program, medallion hunt, bingo, music, kids’ games and rides, silent auction and, let’s not forget the delicious homemade food, you’ll find it all.

Enjoying a pork sandwich and a beer.

Enjoying a pork sandwich and a beer at the 2013 Fourth of July celebration. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

The homemade pies are to die for as are the BBQ pork and hot beef sandwiches.

Blueberry pie.

Homemade blueberry pie. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

Just a tip. Don’t wait too long to order your slice of pie or you may not get the type you want. Pie sells quickly.

The vintage car ride for kids.

The vintage car ride for kids. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

I love everything about this celebration, but especially the kitschy kids’ rides that appear to have been around forever. I expect second and third generations are riding these rides. This event is definitely family-oriented.

The bluegrass band, Monroe Crossing, has performed at North Morristown the past seven years, presenting two concerts at the celebration.

The bluegrass band, Monroe Crossing, has performed at North Morristown the past seven years, presenting two concerts at the celebration. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

Music comprises a major part of the festivities. The well-known bluegrass band, Monroe Crossing, is slated to perform at 1 p.m. and again at 5 p.m. on the main stage. Also on the main stage will be the Roe Family Singers at noon and 4 p.m. and the Mountain Lake Gospel Singers at 7 p.m. There will also be music in the beer garden.

Zinghoppers, a band focused on entertainment for the preschool and elementary-aged crowd, performs at 2:30 p.m.

The bingo callers.

The bingo callers. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

To see a complete schedule of the day’s events (because I can’t possibly list them all here), for directions to North Morristown and more, click here.

Visitors stopping by the ice cream shop can drop donations for the entertainment into a drop box.

Visitors stopping by the ice cream shoppe could drop donations for the entertainment into a drop box at last year’s celebration. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

Just a few other things you should know: Parking and entertainment are free, although I’d suggest you buy a $1 celebration button and/or donate monies to support the festival. Bring a lawn chair, just in case. There are picnic tables and bleachers but those can fill quickly.

Hot pork and beef sandwiches and cold beverages are served from this stand.

Hot pork and beef sandwiches and cold beverages are served from this stand. Burgers and other foods are also available.

Keep your food and alcoholic beverages at home as they are not allowed onto the church or festival grounds. There’s plenty of great food and drink available for purchase. Lock your vehicles. This may be in the middle of nowhere, but…

Homemade pies and ice cream are served from the pie building.

Homemade pies and ice cream are served from the pie building. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

And did I tell you to order a slice of pie?

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Minnesota’s church dinner season underway August 2, 2013

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TIS THE SEASON of church dinners.

Diners dish up at last year's fall dinner at Trinity Lutheran Church, North Morristown.

Diners dish up at the 2011 dinner at Trinity Lutheran Church, North Morristown.

Although I’ve never partaken in the one at The Church of the Nativity in Cleveland, I’ve attended plenty of others in southern Minnesota. Church dinner food is typically homemade, the draw for me, along with the fellowship.

If I wasn’t already busy this Sunday, August 4, I’d head west to Cleveland, which sits along State Highway 99 six miles east of St. Peter, to this Catholic church dinner and festival.

The beautiful chicken dinner sign I spotted along Minnesota Highway 99 on the edge of Cleveland.

The beautiful chicken dinner sign I spotted along Minnesota Highway 99 on the edge of Cleveland.

Since I can’t review the food, I’ll award these dinner promoters five stars for creative and eye-catching roadside signage.

To learn more about the dinner, I checked out the church website (click here) where the meal is tagged as “Men’s Chicken Dinner & Parish Festival.” Now I’m certain women and children are welcome. I assume the “men’s dinner” means the men are cooking the advertised “fabulous broasted chicken.”

In addition, baked potatoes, creamy cucumbers, baked beans, pie and beverages will be served. Homemade pie. The best.

Food will be served from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Mass starts at 8:30 a.m.

My meal at last year's Trinity dinner, minus the bread and cranberries. I had cake for dessert, too.

My food plated at the annual Trinity North Morristown church dinner.

Besides food, the festival offers your usual games, beer garden (this was an initial surprise for me, a Lutheran, to discover beer at a church event) and silent auction. The Church of the Nativity also has an antique car show and a coffee bar, neither of which I’ve seen at a parish fest.

Next year this event is going on my list of must-attend church festivals.

FYI: I’d recommend attending these three church dinners:

Click here to read about the Veseli Ho-Down, Most Holy Trinity’s annual parish festival and dinner. This event is held in late August. Great food, music, games and more.

Click here to read about the annual church dinner at Trinity Lutheran Church, rural North Morristown. The dinner is served in mid-October in the church basement. Excellent, excellent food.

Click here to read about the Strawberry Festival held each June at Moland Lutheran Church, rural Kenyon.

Also, check out the website, Church Cuisine of Minnesota, for stories and photos of other church dinners.

HAVE YOU ATTENDED an outstanding church dinner and/or festival? if so please share in a comment to this post.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling