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

Advertisements
 

Minnesota Faces: Steam engine tractor operator September 4, 2015

Portrait #38: Steam engine tractor operator

 

Portrait 38, Rice County Steam engine

 

The sheer size of a vintage steam engine tractor always impresses me. As do those who operate these monstrosities. Just look at the difference in scale between man and mammoth machine, this one at last year’s Rice County Steam & Gas Engines Show. You better know what you’re doing when you run one of these machines.

The steam engine tractor will rumble around again this weekend at the show grounds along Minnesota State Highway 3 three miles south of Northfield.

If you appreciate vintage tractors, flea markets, farm work demonstrations (like threshing, corn shelling, plowing, sawing, etc.) and more, then you must attend the Friday – Sunday event. Click here to see the complete line-up of activities. Don’t miss the Parade of Tractors at noon daily.

I promise, you will enjoy this event. I especially like its comfortable size—big enough to offer plenty to see and do, but not too large as to overwhelm. I always see people I know here and that’s part of the fun. Visiting. Oh, and the food, is pretty darned good, too.

#

Minnesota Faces is a series featured every Friday on Minnesota Prairie Roots.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

If you love vintage, check out this rural Medford barn sale July 18, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 4:56 PM
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

ATTENTION ALL PICKERS, collectors, decorators, flea market lovers and anyone who’s interested in vintage junque.

Park along the edge of the circle drive or on Frontage Road and then amble up to the Barn Sale.

Park along the edge of the circle drive or on Frontage Road and then amble up to the Barn Sale. And, yes, the barn is packed with stuff.

Loren Martin, food scientist by day and picker on the side, is offering a farm yard full of eclectic old merchandise at his annual Barn Sale in rural Medford today (Saturday) and tomorrow. My husband and I happened upon the sale this afternoon while driving home from Owatonna.

The sale is located along Frontage Road East, about a mile from the Medford Outlet Center round-about.

The sale is located along Frontage Road East, about a mile south of the Medford Outlet Center round-about off Interstate 35.

This is the third year Loren has held his third weekend in July sale at this location, 5415 Frontage Road East, just across Interstate 35 from the Medford Outlet Center. However, he’s been a picker in southern Minnesota for 30-plus years, scouting for goods in barns and elsewhere. He’s from a family of pickers.

One of several vendors.

One of several vendors.

Folks, this sale is worth your drive. In addition to Loren’s finds packed into a barn and sheds and scattered around the farm yard, several other vendors are also peddling their wares.

A snippet of the merchandise for sale.

A snippet of the merchandise for sale. See that striped table in the center. Should have bought it for $20.

The hot items this year, according to Loren, are anything wine or garden related. And galvanized. Furniture for repurposing is also popular with shoppers.

There are lots of vintage wooden pop crates for sale.

There are lots of vintage wooden pop crates for sale.

This picker’s finds are also sold at Urban Finds at the Medford Outlet Center. And, if you’re looking for something specific anytime, ask Loren. He’s always picking.

You're in the heart of farm country in Steele County, Minnesota.

You’re in the heart of farm country in Steele County, Minnesota.

You’ve got until early evening today (Saturday, July 18) and tomorrow, beginning at 8 a.m. until early evening to shop in this rural setting next to busy Interstate 35, rural Medford. Even if you don’t purchase anything, browsing junque on a farm yard next to tasseling corn fields will give you your country fix.

BONUS PHOTOS:

Lots of rustic and country, including this old door.

Lots of rustic and country, including this old door.

A vendor grabs lunch and settles in next to a bear he's selling.

A vendor grabs lunch and settles in next to a bear he’s selling.

If you'd rather have a deer mount than a bear, another vendor had that. I asked why I often see deer heads at flea markets. The vendor answered, "Because they never sell."

If you’d rather have a deer mount than a bear, another vendor had that. I asked why I often see deer heads at flea markets. The vendor answered, “Because they never sell.”

A Hardware Hank statue.

A Hardware Hank statue.

There are some great old outbuildings on-site, including this corn crib.

There are some great old outbuildings on-site, including this corn crib.

And inside the corn crib, this chandelier was for sale.

And inside the corn crib, this chandelier was for sale.

A vendor's dog.

A vendor’s dog.

Art

Art

Rural art and more.

Rural art and more.

A cupola country touch on the corn crib.

A cupola country touch on the corn crib.

The farm yard and buildings overflow with vintage finds.

The farm yard and buildings overflow with vintage finds.

FYI: Check back tomorrow for more photos from my time at the Barn Sale.

© 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

 

Oddities & art at a rural Minnesota flea market September 3, 2013

WHENEVER I SHOP a flea market with my camera, I challenge myself to find and photograph items that rate as unique, odd, artistic. I consider shapes and fonts, weirdness and, really, anything unusual that catches my eye.

Sunday afternoon browsing the Rice County Steam and Gas Engines Show Flea Market in rural Dundas provided plenty of subject matter.

Here are my top picks for flea market art and oddities, starting with the weirdest, a trio of doll heads in a colander:

Kind of creepy if you ask me.

Kind of creepy if you ask me.

The same vendor, Lou of Mantiques LLC (gotta appreciate that creative name), also offered another odd item, a child’s coffin, for sale. It drew my interest in that unsettled sort of way when you’re curious enough to ask but are uncertain you want to hear the story.

A child's coffin.

A child’s coffin.

According to Lou, who speaks with a thick accent even after 18 years away from Boston, during the diphtheria epidemic parents built coffins in advance, storing the boxes in barns in anticipation of their children’s deaths. Sad. Just plain sad. The coffin Lou was selling has never, obviously, been used but was passed down through the generations. Not in his family; some other. I can’t imagine anyone buying this coffin, but…

Michniewicz Sales presents "Quality Lawn Ornaments" made in the USA.

Michniewicz Sales presents “Quality Lawn Ornaments” made in the USA, in living color.

To balance the melancholy of that story, let me show you a sampling of Bob Michniewicz’ kitschy lawn ornaments. I first met Bob a year ago at the same flea market, photographed and blogged about him (click here to read that post). He was happy to see me again as, apparently, the publicity I gave him last September resulted in the sale of 10 cow lawn ornaments. Bob extended an open invitation to photograph his art anytime I please.

Tool and/or art, you decide.

Tools and/or art, you decide.

Now not all vendors are likely aware that they’ve created art. Or perhaps the art unfolds in the eyes of the beholder. While most flea market shoppers would see open end wrenches, dies, a brush and a turnbuckle hook when viewing these tools, I see something more—a collage.

Historic art.

Historic art.

Ditto for community celebration and homecoming buttons. These are mini pieces of historic art. Mini, however, would not describe the Albert Lea Tigers’ “Stomp the Packers” (as in Austin, not Green Bay) homecoming button. That button is the size of a dessert plate. Wowza.

A vendor's "trailer."

A vendor’s “trailer.”

Finally, my camera lens landed on a vintage Winnebago camper because, yes, sometimes even a camper converted into a flea market merchandise hauler can be a work of art in angled lines and graphics.

There you have it. My top picks from this year’s flea market.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Sermon on a stick September 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 4:51 PM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sermon on a pencil

IN THE UNLIKLIEST OF PLACES, inside a box of vintage bullet pencils at the Rice County Steam and Gas Engines Flea Market, between the Corn Palace in Mitchell, S.D., and Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills, I spotted a mini sermon:

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.”—John 14:6

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

My blogging approach to covering a Minnesota flea market May 29, 2013

An overview of the Rice County Steam & Gas Engine Flea Market Saturday morning near Dundas.

An overview of the Rice County Steam & Gas Engine Flea Market Saturday morning near Dundas.

FLEA MARKETS OFFER an eclectic mix of merchandise and people, the two ingredients which make shopping and photographing these venues especially entertaining and enlightening.

Mr. Socko, the sock guy, vends socks from Fox River Mills, which originated in Appleton, Wisconsin (home to the Fox River), before moving to Iowa.

Mr. Socko, the sock guy,  right, vends socks from Fox River Mills, which originated in Appleton, Wisconsin (home to the Fox River), before moving to Iowa.

For example, I met Mr. Socko of St. Paul peddling American made socks this past weekend at the Rice County Steam & Gas Engines Flea Market in rural Dundas. Ben Suckow’s (his real name) been selling socks for seven years, driving down to Fox River Mills in Osage, Iowa, to pick up these quality socks to vend at flea markets.

Pigs crafts by Gerald Skluzacek.

Pigs crafts by Gerald Skluzacek.

At the same event, I spotted whimsical flying pigs (and other) garden art created by Northfielder Gerald Skluzacek, retired owner of a sandblasting company. He also makes jewelry.

Linda Stadler arrived with her mittens to sell in Gerald Skluzacek's vendor trailer.

Linda Stadler arrived with her mittens to sell in Gerald Skluzacek’s vendor trailer.

On this cold Saturday, his and wife Jane’s friend, Linda Stadler, arrives with mittens she crafted from recycled sweaters. And, yes, the weather was cold enough to warrant mittens. Linda would be minding the Garden Space while Gerald attended a party.

As a bonus, Linda asked if I was “that blogger,” yes, the one who writes about her ventures into small towns. That would be me. Always nice to meet a reader who appreciates your blogging.

Photogenic Albert Remme.

Photogenic and personable Albert Remme.

I also had the honor of meeting and chatting with Albert Remme of Dennison, who was bundled in a warm coat, an ear flapper cap and gloves on this windy 50-something degree day as he waited on bleachers for his nephew.

After seeking permission to photograph him, I asked Albert if he was a retired farmer. He was a farmer and a soldier. Drafted between Korea and Vietnam, Albert was sent to Hawaii and thanks God he never saw combat. “I don’t know how you could kill anyone who’s done nothing to you,” he said.

Then I told him about my dad, a Korean War vet who fought on the front lines. “It was kill or be killed,” I shared. Not easy. And Albert just kind of nodded his head in silent agreement.

And that’s how these photo shoots go—I spot an interesting person or object or scene and I either shoot a few quick frames or I shoot, then pause to learn more.

Shopping the flea market...

Shopping the flea market…

Every time I attend this flea market, I look for a weird piece of merchandise. This year it would be these horns.

Every time I attend this flea market, I look for a weird piece of merchandise. This year it would be these horns. Why, I ask, would anyone save these? Would you buy these horns or try to sell them?

Signs tell a story, too, like this on an auction wagon there for the live auction.

Signs tell a story, too, like this on an auction wagon there for the live auction.

The auctioneer solicits bids from his movable auction wagon.

The auctioneer solicits bids from his movable auction wagon.

I set my camera on the grass to shoot this image of barbed wire that had been auctioned off.

I set my camera on the grass to shoot this image of barbed wire that had been auctioned off as the auction continues.

FYI: Click here and here to read two previous posts from the Rice County Steam & Gas Engines Flea Market. Check back for one final post in which I will show you my purchases.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling