Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Lions Club serves Faribault community at 52nd annual Super Bowl breakfast February 2, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS AND ST. PAUL are getting lots of media attention these days as host cities of Super Bowl LII and related events. That’s to be expected. I’m grateful for that exposure, as long as Minnesotans aren’t portrayed as characters right off the set of Fargo. (Ahem, Minneapolis-based Surly Brewing.) Sure we draw out the vowel “o,” but we don’t talk with exaggerated accents. Not even in Greater Minnesota.

I digress.

I pulled this breakfast promo from the Faribault Lions club Facebook page.

 

Super Bowl LII in Minnesota reaches beyond the Twin Cities metro. There’s Browerville in central Minnesota, home to extended family of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. And then there’s Faribault, about an hour south of U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis and home to a 52-year Super Bowl tradition—the annual Lions Club Super Sunday Pancake & Sausage Feed. Yes, you read that right. Fifty-two years.

 

The featured foods, pancakes and sausage. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.

 

Sunday from 7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., the Lions will serve this all-you-can-eat Super Bowl Day breakfast to hundreds at the local Eagles Club in my community. I’ve attended once or twice. I’m not a fan of pancakes. But I am a fan of this Lions Club endeavor to raise monies for local causes such as the Basic Blessings Backpack Program, scholarships, dictionaries for local third graders and more.

 

Posted in the dining area at the 2015 breakfast. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.

 

With a club motto of “We Serve,” the Lions are also collecting used prescription eyeglasses and hearing aids to redistribute to those in need. And, for the first time, they are offering a free vision screening to children ages six months to six years through Lions Kidsight USA, a community eye screening endorsed by Lions Club International. The focus on vision and hearing is especially fitting for Faribault, home to the Minnesota State Academies for the Deaf and for the Blind.

 

Making pancakes at the 2015 breakfast. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.

 

Serving up pancakes and sausage. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.

 

Lions Club member Otto serves sausages. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.

 

I love how Faribault Lions members and others, year after year after year, for 52 consecutive years, have sold tickets, flipped pancakes, fried sausages and more on Super Bowl Sunday. That’s dedication. That’s commitment. They showcase the best of Minnesota as a place of kind, caring and compassionate people, from rural to metro.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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From the strange, but true: Coyotes for a cause January 26, 2018

Thousands gather each summer in Faribault for the Straight River Stroll to raise funds for cancer research and to remember, celebrate and pray for those touched by cancer. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2010.

 

WHEN IT COMES TO RAISING money for cancer research and cancer support groups, I typically think of a cancer walk, silent auction or such. Not a hunt.

 

A hunter in a Minnesota field, used here for illustration purposes only. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

But a group in Blooming Prairie—just south of Owatonna—has organized the 1st Annual Coyotes “Fur” Cancer Fundraiser for this Saturday, January 27. A coyote hunt (yes, you read that right) coupled with a chili and soup feed, and a raffle will raise monies to help locals dealing with cancer.

On its Facebook page, event host The Cue Company restaurant promotes the fundraiser:

Enjoy the day by hunting coyotes with your comrades in your personal favorite spots. At dark bring all your coyotes to the back parking lot of The Blooming Prairie Cue Company for a group hunting picture. All coyotes will be collected and sold to a fur buyer with the profits being donated to The Blooming Prairie Cancer Group.

 

I photographed these bras dangling from Hotel Donaldson in downtown Fargo, North Dakota. “Bras on Broadway” raises funds for those fighting breast cancer and for the American Cancer Society. I like this creative idea to raise funds and awareness. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2012.

 

Alright then. That’s certainly a creative idea, but not one which appeals to me personally. I do, though, appreciate the efforts of organizers and the end goal.

 

At the Rice County Steam and Gas Engines Show, this John Deere tractor helped raise cancer awareness. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2011.

 

Coyotes, by the way, are not a protected animal in Minnesota. They are, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, our state’s most abundant large predator. About 4,000 are shot or trapped here annually for their fur, described by the DNR as soft, warm and luxurious.

 

I’m uncertain whether White Fox Fur & Feather Company in Pemberton buys coyote pelts. But when I photographed the business in 2010, the company was looking for deer hides. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2010.

 

I realize the threat coyotes pose to livestock and other animals. I’m struggling, though, with hunting coyotes as a fundraiser. It’s certainly a novel, attention-getting idea, but…

THOUGHTS?

UPDATE, 1:30 pm Wednesday, January 31, 2018: The Coyotes “Fur” Cancer Fundraiser raised $17,000 and counting, according to an article published in The Owatonna People’s Press. That far surpassed the goal of $2,000 – $5,000. Six hunting parties killed 24 coyotes. The animals’ fur will be sold with proceeds directed to The Blooming Prairie Cancer Group. Additional monies raised at the event came from a raffle, silent auction and chili and soup feed.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Poster art showcases Faribault’s historic architecture December 9, 2016

TRAVEL WEST ACROSS the Highway 60 viaduct toward downtown Faribault and you likely will notice the steeples and towers poking above the landscape. Just like on the eastern side of my Minnesota community, these punctuating structures mark numerous historic buildings.

 

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Now Jeff Jarvis, a local historian and artist who works as the City of Faribault’s community enrichment coordinator, has created Steeples & Towers, a photo montage. For a donation to the Concerts in the Park fund, you can purchase this 12 x 18-inch poster featuring 18 spires on educational, religious and residential structures. Places like the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour, the Hutchinson House, Buckham Memorial Library.

Buckham Memorial Library, Faribault, was built in 1929 with a Greek theme. Interior features include a Charles Connick stained glass window and Greek murals.

Buckham Memorial Library, Faribault, was built in 1929 with a Greek theme. Interior features include a Charles Connick stained glass window and Greek murals. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

I’ve long valued the detailed architecture that defines so many aged buildings in Faribault. Jeff’s targeted and documented Steeples & Towers poster art heightens that appreciation and focuses awareness. “How dreary buildings would be if they were all square boxes,” he notes.

I agree.

 

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Likewise, Jeff’s artistic eye and historic awareness drew him to photograph 27 windows in historic downtown Faribault. Places like the Alexander Faribault House, the Fleckenstein Building, the post office. He’s created a Historic Downtown Faribault Windows poster, also available for purchase via a donation.

He writes:

The inspiration to do the windows downtown came initially from reading signs placed in the empty downtown buildings—“This building is not empty; it’s full of opportunity.” Reading these struck me as funny. From my point of view as an artist, I see the beauty of the intact architecture and the variety of exterior colors. It seems backward, but to me a full store is almost secondary.

The prize is being able to stroll about in respect and appreciation of the historic district. I see and imagine the stories hidden behind the facades—the limestone backsides, the alleyways with faded vintage lettering, and the add-ons that can be viewed if you look closely.

Of course, there are lots of metaphors or idioms about windows that are fun that could apply to the downtown situation like “God closes a door, then opens a window,” etc. The project itself was like seizing a window of opportunity to teach others to quit quibbling about downtown—to turn their focus instead to one of the lovelier features in town.

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

Restored historic buildings in downtown Faribault decorated during a past holiday season. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Jeff has it right. As a community, we need to seriously appreciate the aesthetic and historical value of the many old buildings that stand in and near the heart of the downtown and elsewhere throughout Faribault. I’m not saying that appreciation hasn’t existed. It has as evidenced in the restoration of many historic buildings, the existence of the Faribault Heritage Preservation Commission, the current interest in possible Artspace development and more. But sometimes we get sidetracked, too often complaining about perceived problems or what we don’t have rather than valuing what we do have.

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. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

And one of those assets—Concerts in the Park—is the benefactor of the historic posters sales. Those summer concerts are a 130-year tradition in Faribault. I’ve been attending these outdoor performances for more than 30 years, since relocating here. I’ve grown to love this Minnesota community. The traditions. The people. And, yes, the steeples, towers and windows, too.

FYI: If you are interested in purchasing these historic posters for a donation to the Concerts in the Park, stop at Faribault Park and Rec, 15 West Division Street, or email jjarvis@ci.faribault.mn.us. Donations will help underwrite concert costs.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Art posters copyright of Jeff Jarvis

 

Garden tour V: A little bit of Eden on a corner lot in Faribault August 5, 2016

I’D LOVE TO HAVE THE YARD of Cindy and Dick Lawson.

Bee balm jolts color into the front yard.

Bee balm jolts color into the front yard.

Sunny spaces bloom bright with flowers.

Shade loving plants thrive under a tree next to a stream.

Shade loving plants thrive under a tree next to a stream/waterfall.

Lush greenery fills shady spots.

 

Lawson garden, 138 garden

 

A garden grows thick with vegetables.

 

A stream/waterfall/pond is a backyard focal point.

A stream/waterfall/pond is a backyard focal point.

But, best of all, two water features—one in the front yard, the other in the back—soothe visually and mentally. Water has a way of doing that.

Situated on a busy street corner in southwest Faribault, this property seems miles away from the traffic that passes en route to and from Jefferson Elementary School and to other destinations along arterial Prairie Avenue. The Lawsons, with the help of family, have created this private oasis in the city using fencing, trees, plants and water. It’s a beautiful retreat with minimal lawn.

Annuals grow in rock water columns in the sunny front yard.

Annuals and water spill from rock columns in the sunny front yard.

Fortunately for the Lawsons, their son-in-law, Jake Langeslag, owns Aqua Eden, a Faribault-based waterscape company. Thus the backyard stream and pond and the front yard rock water columns.

Not until I met Cindy and Dick during the recent Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour Garden and Landscape Tour benefiting Full Belly, a Faribault soup kitchen, did I know of the relationship to Jake and his wife, Amanda. The younger couple and their children attend my church. It was a delight to meet Amanda’s parents in their lovely backyard.

 

Lawson garden, 137 scripture on trellis

 

I especially appreciate the Scripture printed above the garden gate entry: “And God said, Let the earth put forth tender vegetation…” The bible verse seems fitting for this corner of paradise, this Garden of Eden.

FYI: This concludes my series from The Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour Garden and Landscape Tour.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Garden Tour III: A rural retreat in Cannon City July 11, 2016

Outbuildings dot the Glendes' rural property.

Outbuildings dot the Glendes’ rural property.

I COULD BE SO HAPPY living on Debbie and Mike Glende’s property in Cannon City. It’s peaceful, lovely and tranquil in a definitive rural sense.

An electric fence keeps the donkeys penned in the pasture.

An electric fence keeps the donkeys penned in the pasture.

Not exactly a hobby farm, although there are donkeys, this seems more rural retreat.

Delphiniums sway in the breeze inside a fenced vegetable garden.

Delphiniums sway in the breeze inside a fenced vegetable garden.

Lush green plants and flowers.

A pond, surrounded by lush plants, is situated under shade trees next to the house.

A pond, surrounded by lush plants, is situated under shade trees next to the house.

Pond.

Rustic fencing surrounds the vegetable garden.

Rustic fencing surrounds the vegetable garden.

Garden surrounded by rustic weathered fencing.

I opened the aged screen door on an outbuilding to discover this 50s style retreat.

I opened the aged screen door on an outbuilding to discover this 50s style retreat.

An outbuilding styled in 1950s décor.

Farm themed decor fits this corn crib turned fire pit gathering area.

Farm themed decor fits this corn crib turned fire pit gathering area.

A wire grain bin converted into a comfortable gathering spot for an evening campfire.

 

Glende garden, 51 barn and windmill

 

An aged red barn and windmill.

Plants spill from a rustic piece of farm equipment.

Artfully arranged plants spill from a rustic piece of farm equipment.

I didn’t want to leave the Glendes’ place while on a recent Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour Garden and Landscape Tour benefiting Fully Bell, a soup kitchen in nearby Faribault. Even the cat, a black stray that followed me, wrapping around my legs, seemed to want me to stay. I wish. Debbie offered the cat.

This building houses the 1950s style retreat.

This building houses the 1950s style retreat.

I could live here. I imagined the 50s retreat as a secluded place to write. My office.

This sweet little building was moved here from the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf campus in Faribault. For now, it's a storage space.

This sweet little building was moved here from the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf campus in Faribault. For now, it’s a storage space.

Or the lovely columned white building moved here from the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf in Faribault would work, too, for my writer’s retreat.

Rustic rural art near the MSAD building.

Rustic rural art near the MSAD building.

As I roamed the Glendes’ land, I was reminded of my rural roots. Vintage farm machinery and equipment are planted like works of art among the farm buildings. It takes an artist’s and gardener’s hands to make this all come together—to create this rural retreat that is more than visually appealing, but also everyday practical. This couple succeeded. I wanted to stay until the stars emerged and flames danced in the fire pit.

BONUS PHOTOS:

A sign inside the outhouse reads:

A sign inside the outhouse reads: “Who cut one?”

Flower art provides a jolt of color.

Flower art provides a jolt of color.

Another rustic style planting.

Another rustic style planting.

So poetically lovely this blue heron in the pond.

So poetically lovely this blue heron in the pond.

Even the bird feeder fits the rural theme.

Even the bird feeder fits the rural theme.

FYI: Please check back as I continue my garden tour series. Click here to read my first entry and then click here to read about another garden I toured.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

From Colorado to Minnesota: Peaches, peaches & more peaches August 17, 2015

Colorado peaches

Colorado peaches

PEACHES AND CREAM. It is how I ate fresh peaches as a Minnesota farm kid. Chunked peaches drenched with cream in a bowl. To this day they remain one of my favorite fruits, as much for the taste as for the memories.

Today's peaches are packed in cardboard boxes rather than wooden crates.

Today’s peaches are packed in cardboard boxes rather than wooden crates.

Every summer Mom would pick up a slated wooden crate of peaches from the local grocer. She pried the lid open and then we carefully unwrapped the peaches from pinkish tissue, setting the tissue squares aside for use later in the outhouse. Next we slid the peaches into boiled water to loosen the skins. Soon Mom was slipping sliced peaches into Mason and Ball jars and packing the jars into a pressure cooker. When the jars had cooled, the lids sealed, she gathered the preserved fruit to store in the cellar.

Then, on the coldest of winter evenings, Mom lifted a door hidden in the red-and-white checked linoleum kitchen floor and sent me to the cellar. Down the wooden stairs I clomped to the dirt-floored cellar lit by a single bare bulb. There, in the earthy shadows, I searched for a quart of golden peaches. Thin-sliced peaches if the fruit was to serve as a dessert. Half-slices of peaches if Mom planned to serve the fruit as a salad, halves turned up to cup cottage cheese nested upon a leaf of iceberg lettuce.

Today I neither eat peaches with cream or cottage cheese, or even preserved. I prefer mine fresh. And right now I have 39 fresh Colorado peaches—20 pounds—in my refrigerator. That is a lot of peaches for two people to eat. But my husband insists we can do it. He’s right. Several years ago we managed to consume an entire crate of peaches without any spoiling.

Buyers could choose whichever box of peaches they wanted.

Buyers could choose whichever box of peaches they wanted.

I love peaches. And I like supporting a good cause, which is partially why we ordered a box of Colorado peaches. The Community Cathedral Cafe, a coalition of Faribault churches providing a free meal in Faribault every Tuesday evening, sold the peaches as a fundraiser. So did the youth at First English Lutheran Church.

Boxes of peaches await pick-up in the basement of First English Lutheran Church.

Boxes of peaches await pick-up in the basement of First English Lutheran Church.

When we picked up our 20-pound box of peaches, I was impressed by the sheer volume of boxes stacked in the refrigerator cold basement of First English. The two groups teamed up to order five pallets of peaches from Noland Orchards, a family fruit farm near “The Peach Capital” of Palisade, Colorado. That’s 400 boxes or 8,000 pounds of peaches, selling for a grand total of $12,800.

Peach paperwork and suggestions on how to eat peaches.

Peach paperwork and suggestions on how to use the peaches.

So now I’m looking for recipes to use these peaches. If you have a favorite, pass it on. That’d be mighty peachy of you.

BONUS PHOTOS:

Entry to the peach pick-up site at First English Lutheran Church in Faribault.

Entry to the peach pick-up site at First English Lutheran Church in Faribault. The pallets have already been claimed for repurposing into artwork and more.

Simple directions once inside.

Simple directions once inside.

Carts are on hand to transport boxes from basement to vehicle.

Carts are on hand to transport boxes from basement to vehicle.

Volunteers are available to wheel peaches outside and load into vehicles.

Volunteers are available to wheel peaches outside and load into vehicles.

And when that task is done, back inside the volunteers go to await the next customer who has preordered a box of peaches.

And when that task is done, back inside the volunteers go to await the next customer who has preordered a box of peaches.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Celebrating the Kentucky Derby, Minnesota style May 2, 2015

The marquee on the Paradise Center for the Arts announces the Kentucky Derby Party.

The marquee on the Paradise Center for the Arts announces the Kentucky Derby Party.

IT WASN’T CHURCHILL DOWNS. But the Paradise Center for the Arts in historic downtown Faribault drew a fashionable crowd to watch the greatest two minutes in sports Saturday afternoon.

A guest arrives for the Derby party.

A guest arrives for the Kentucky Derby party in downtown Faribault.

Attendees view the hat-themed exhibit in the gallery.

Attendees view the hat-themed exhibit in the gallery.

More great hats.

More great hats.

I was there, sporting a wide-brimmed hat that made me feel like a horse with blinders. I’ve concluded that I’m not comfortable wearing an over-sized hat. But I delighted in viewing all of the stylish Kentucky Derby attire.

A poster in an exterior window promotes the Derby event.

A poster in an exterior window promotes the Derby event.

There was even a horseshoe shaped cake.

There was even a horseshoe shaped cake.

"Frilly Filly" by Audrey Sand, art in the gallery.

“Frilly Filly” by Audrey Sand, art in the gallery.

The Big Hats & Big Hearts Auction for the Arts and Derby Party featured fashion, food, a hat-themed gallery exhibit and live and silent auctions.

The auctioneer bought his yellow leisure suit in the early 1970s.

The auctioneer bought his yellow leisure suit in the early 1970s.

The auctioneer even arrived in a 1970s yellow leisure suit complete with horse print tie.

The Paradise Center for the Arts was decorated with lots of red roses.

The Paradise Center for the Arts was decorated with lots of red roses.

Fresh mint leaves for the mint juleps.

Fresh mint leaves for the mint juleps.

Fans watched the race on the big screen in the theatre.

Fans watched the race on the big screen in the theatre.

There were red roses and mint juleps and raucous roaring as American Pharaoh edged out Firing Line to win the 141st Kentucky Derby. Carpe Diem, the horse I chose, finished tenth. My husband’s finished second.

The live auction begins.

The live auction begins.

Me, ready for the Derby party.

Me, ready for the Derby party.

Tickets for mint juleps.

Tickets for mint juleps.

Win or lose, it didn’t matter to me. I was there to support the arts, view the fashions and try a mint julep for the first time.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling