Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Minnesota Vikings fan for a day plus January 15, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 10:01 AM
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Chilling beer Minnesota style in the snow. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


I CAN’T RECALL the last time I watched a professional football game on TV.

But there I was Sunday afternoon, hunkered down on the couch watching the Minnesota Vikings take on the New Orleans Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium. Yes, I suppose you might term me a fair weather fan, if that. Until yesterday, I didn’t know any of the players’ names. And until several days ago, I knew nothing of SKOL, the Vikings’ fan chant.


Vikings pride displayed atop a home in Waterville. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


After a smashing first half, the home team seemed poised to easily win the play-off game. So Randy and I broke for supper, only to return to a stalled game and then an upset lead by the Saints. About that time I could barely bear to watch, diverting my attention instead to a John Sandford mystery.


The car of a Vikings fan photographed in Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


Randy, though, insisted the Vikes could still win. I didn’t believe him. Then it happened, in the last play of the game. Quarterback Case Keenum fired the ball to Stefon Diggs who nearly slipped, then regained his footing and ran in for the winning touchdown. And, yes, I saw the game winning play.


US Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings, in downtown Minneapolis and site of Super Bowl 2018. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo August 2016.


With a Vikings win of 29-24, the team is now one game from competing in the Super Bowl right here in Minnesota.


My snow boots. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


After a bit of whooping and hollering, I launched myself from my reclining spot, grabbed by winter coat, scarf, hat and gloves, laced my boots, and stepped outside. To shovel snow.

TELL ME: Did you watch the game? Do you think the Vikings will make it into the Super Bowl?

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Hunting for deer at August Schell Brewing Company September 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:54 AM
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August Schell Brewing Company sign and deer by the corporate office.

I MUST ADMIT THAT prior to my recent tour of the August Schell Brewing Company, I had never really thought about the deer image that brands this New Ulm beer.

But, as our tour guide explained, company founder August Schell loved the white-tail buck.

Indeed he did. Everywhere I turned and walked and looked, I saw deer on the Schell’s company grounds. Only the real deer, which typically are visible to the public, were not around because of health issues, or something like that.

All of these deer got me thinking. Maybe the brewery could add a deer “hunt” to its tours as an activity for children and teens. I bet most kids don’t find the tour all that interesting because it’s geared primarily for adults. A deer scavenger-type hunt would provide an entertaining diversion for the younger generation, or for all ages. I saw grandparents with their grandchildren and I’m certain the elders would welcome a cross-generational activity like this.

So here’s my idea: Create a printed sheet of historical facts that lead to various deer on the grounds. For example, one clue might be “Welcome to the Black Forest, a re-creation of August Schell’s homeland.”

A stately buck statue stands on the edge of the wooded area which resembles August Schell's native Black Forest.

Or: Only the Schell’s company president can live here.

A deer image above an exterior door on the Schell's retirement mansion, where only the president may live.

Or: Land a bass when you find this deer.

A Schell's Hobo Band bass drum in the brewery museum.

Game participants would search for the deer, all the while learning about Schell’s and its history. And the brewery would be imprinting the deer brand upon the unsuspecting guests.

Of course, to reward the deer hunters, Schell’s could offer some little deer-stamped trinket to be claimed in the gift shop after the hunt.  (That would increase gift shop traffic, which could also increase sales.) The kids would be happy. The parents and grandparents would be happy.

What do you think? Should Schell’s give my idea a shot?

A deer-branded 150th anniversary beer mug in the gift shop.

A Schell's deer emblem on the door of the house that once was home to brewery workers during the company's early years.

Bottling Schell's deer beer, a museum display.

A successful hunt: Deer antlers form a light in the commons area that links the gift shop and museum on the main floor.

FYI: MANY DEER, a whole herd actually, also can be found in the Schell’s hospitality room. But because that room, where beer is served, remains closed except during the tour or for special occasions, none of those deer are included in my proposed hunt. But if they were, here’s one of the more interesting bucks:

A carved deer light in Schell's hospitality room.

AS A SIDE NOTE, in the book Land of Amber Waters: The History of Brewing in Minnesota by Doug Hoverson, you’ll find a photo of the original Schell’s family home, today the company office. Look closely at that image on page 35 and you’ll see deer antlers stuck on the front of the brick house, between the front first and second floor windows.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling