Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Southern Minnesota slides toward Christmas with snow, holiday sales & more November 16, 2022

Volunteers vend trees and more at the Christ Lutheran Christmas Market last weekend in Faribault. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo November 2022)

IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK, and feel, a lot like Christmas in Minnesota. This week brought snow and cold to our state, a reality check for those of us hoping our stretch of gloriously warm autumn days would continue. Yet, as a life-long Minnesotan, I understood winter weather would arrive no matter my wishful thinking.

As I was out and about in Faribault in the biting wind and cold temps pre-snowfall, I hurried in and out of buildings. Temperature spirals to the 20s and lower always require acclimation, no matter how long I’ve lived in the North Star State (my entire life).

A shopper arrives at the Christmas Market. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo November 2022)

Throughout my community, the spirit of Christmas is emerging in holiday decorations and holiday boutiques/craft sales/marketplaces, whatever term is tagged to an event featuring handcrafted items, food and more.

This festively-decorated vintage pick-up truck set a holiday mood at the market. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo November 2022)

I attended my first of the season, a Christmas Market, at Christ Lutheran Church high atop a hill on Faribault’s east side last Saturday. Originally, the market was planned for outdoors. But then wind moved the sale indoors so vendors’ tents wouldn’t blow over. I felt a tad disappointed as I anticipated attending an outdoor market. But I fully understand given the wind and cold.

Holiday boutiques aren’t just about shopping. They are also about community, about connecting. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo November 2022)

Inside the church, vendors crammed into limited space under tent canopies and at open tables. There was lefse and jewelry and vintage finds and, oh, a whole lot of merch for sale. I focused my attention, though, on the scene outside the front doors of the church. Here a vintage red pick-up truck set the scene for the holiday market.

Smoke from a barrel drifts around the vintage pick-up truck outside the marketplace/church. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo November 2022)

Decked with bows, a wreath, a Christmas tree tossed in the bed, a porch pot aside, strung with unlit lights, the truck presented a postcard scene perfect for photo ops. And those were available for a fee.

Outside the Christmas Market entrance, fire flames. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo November 2022)

Near the truck, smoke billowed at times and flames danced from a barrel, adding ambiance and the feeling of warmth in the mid-November cold.

Trees & wreaths sold at the Christ Lutheran Christmas Market. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo November 2022)

To the side, porch pots, Christmas trees and wreaths leaned and hunkered, available for purchase by anyone wanting to get a jump on holiday decorating.

The City of Faribault has already put up holiday decorations in the downtown area, here looking toward the historic viaduct near Buckham Memorial Library. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo November 2022)

November sometimes feels too early for all of this—the Christmas decorations, the holiday sales. But, in reality, it’s not. Minnesotans understand that putting exterior lights and decorations up when the weather is warm is just plain smart. No frozen fingers. No dealing with snow. Too late now. Both are upon us. And so is this season of holidays markets.

Outside Buckham Library, a bold holiday banner marks the season. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo November 2022)

I suppose it’s smart also to get a jump on gift buying to ease the stress, to spread out the spending. There seem to be more local boutiques/craft sales/markets with an emphasis on local. I like that shift toward supporting creatives within our communities whether at church-based sales like those at Christ Lutheran, at art centers, at local shops… There’s a connection to those who use their hands—to stitch, to knit, to saw, to string beads, to roll potato-based dough into lefse rounds…

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FYI: Here are a few upcoming holiday boutiques/craft sales/markets in my area:

Trinity Lutheran Church, Faribault, Boutique/Craft Sale from 9 am – 3 pm Saturday, November 19, in the auditorium.

Holly Days Sale, Paradise Center for the Arts, Faribault, November 17 (opening at 5 pm) – December 22, featuring one-of-a-kind art by local artists.

Holiday Boutique, Arts & Heritage Center of Montgomery, now until December 31

Christmas Pop Up Shoppe, Buckham West, Faribault, November 26, 28 & 29, hours vary.

For specifics on each listing, please click on links.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Patriotic goodness & more at an occasional shop in Farmington June 28, 2014

Vintage Marketplace in Farmington

Vintage Marketplace in Farmington

I HAPPENED UPON a sweet little shop in Farmington today.

Nancy, left, and Nita.

Nancy, left, and Nita.

Nancy, the owner, and Nita, who sells at Vintage Marketplace, provided a warm welcome for my husband and me who were out on one of our “drives.”

This occasional shop at 302 Oak Street in the heart of downtown, is packed with antiques, collectibles and crafty goodness.

A summery patriotic scene outside the shop.

A summery, patriotic scene outside the shop.

With the Fourth of July only days away, I turned my camera lens to all things red, white and blue. Be assured, though, that this marketplace is filled with lots of great finds, not just Fourth of July related merchandise.

Here’s a sampling of the patriotic goodness you will discover inside:

Fourth of July, AMERICA

 

Fourth of July, embroidered flag

 

Fourth of July, banners

 

Fourth of July, Statue of Liberty

 

Fourth of July, light and banners

 

Fourth of July, star

 

Fourth of July, flag on ladder

 

However…if you want to purchase anything showcased here, you will have exactly five hours to do so. Nancy’s shop opens at 11 a.m. tomorrow (Sunday, June 29) and closes at 4 p.m. Remember, hers is an occasional shop, meaning she’s open only two weekends a month and on the third Thursday for Ladies Night.

When the Vintage Marketplace reopens on July 17, it will be filled with completely new inventory, Nancy tells me.

This is definitely a shop worth visiting as much for the merchandise as the friendly crew who run it.

FYI: Learn more about Vintage Marketplace by clicking here.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Crafts galore & a bonus scarecrow contest October 26, 2013

The sign marking the entry to 100 Ladies and Gentlemen Craft Sale near the intersection of Minnesota Highways 56 and 60 just outside of Kenyon.

Signs mark the entry to 100 Ladies & Gentlemen Craft Sale near the intersection of Minnesota Highways 56 and 60 just outside of Kenyon.

I WISH, OH, HOW I WISH I could show you all the crafty goodness that encompasses the 100 Ladies & Gentlemen Craft Sale just outside of Kenyon.

This building and a wing in the back house the craft sale.

This building houses the craft sale.

But no photos were allowed of the merchandise stuffed inside this pole shed. So you will need to imagine the stitched, hammered, painted, baked, preserved, knitted and other handcrafted items sold here.

Need an apron? Homemade caramels? A Minnesota-authored book? Some crazy saying to decorate a wall? Handcrafted furniture? Seasonal decorations? A photograph of a barn? The list is endless.

The property features a paved parking lot for shoppers.

The property features a paved parking lot for shoppers.

For 40 years, Marlene and Curt Morrow have hosted this craft sale on their property at 45986 Minnesota State Highway 56, just north of State Highway 60.

The show was abuzz with shoppers when my husband and I stopped on a Saturday afternoon, so busy that wiggling through the narrow aisles proved challenging.

I thought Randy would be bored, but he lingered longer than me, reading humorous sayings at a booth of quirky signage.

It wasn’t until I spotted upcycled freestanding cabinets in the back section of the building that I found merchandise which truly interested me. At that point I called Randy over for his opinion on a cabinet to fill a hole in our dining room wall. We removed a chimney several years ago, but I seldom notice anymore the cardboard sheets that hide the space. Until we have guests. Yes, we really need to do something about that. But then I need new flooring and kitchen counters and cupboards and a sink, well, the list is endless. I would love to win a kitchen make-over.

Oh, yes, back to that craft show. I pulled a tape measure and notebook from my purse and Randy measured while I jotted numbers, hopeful that maybe one of the three cabinets we both liked would fit the space. It was not to be, we learned later upon returning home and measuring the void.

Despite purchasing nothing at the sale—because I really do not need more “stuff”—I still enjoyed the drive over to Kenyon and perusing the handcrafted merchandise. I always appreciate the talents of local artisans.

And the scarecrow display, which I was allowed to photograph, provided for some fun photo ops. At least I didn’t bring my camera with me for naught:

Visitors can vote for their favorite in the scarecrow festival with cash prizes awarded to the top three.

Visitors can vote for their favorite in the scarecrow festival with cash prizes awarded to the top three.

Here's a close-up of the Queen Mom, the scarecrow in the foreground in the photo above.

Here’s a close-up of the Queen Mom, the scarecrow in the foreground in the photo above. Her red hat sisters surround her.

Look at the attention to detail by the creators of the Queen Mom.

Look at the attention to detail by the creators of the Queen Mom.

Some of the scarecrows can be a little frightening.

Some of the scarecrows can be a little frightening…

While others can be as fashionable as the Queen Mom, like this hip 60s scarecrow.

while others can be as fashionable as the Queen Mom, or this hip 60s scarecrow.

Scarecrows making a statement.

Scarecrows making a statement.

Among the humorous tombstones on display.

Among the humorous tombstones on display.

Another scarecrow.

Another scarecrow.

An empty chair provides a photo op for a shopper.

An empty chair provides a photo op for a shopper.

And these four hang out outside the craft sale. (Yes, they are for sale.)

And these four hang out outside the craft sale. (Yes, they are for sale.)

FYI: The craft sale is open from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily, except Tuesdays and Wednesdays from now until November 10.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

The art of reclaiming and repurposing in a Northfield shop April 20, 2013

Makeshift accessories

THE CLEVER CREATIVE sidewalk sign crafted from license plates catches my eye and draws me into a cozy shop in downtown Northfield.

Inside I finger rings formed from spoons, try to slide on bracelets shaped from old license plates and other materials, admire oversized blooms folded from pages.

But I don’t take a single photo to show you, save that outdoor sign.

I Should have asked to photograph the art. I didn’t.

So you will have to imagine a one-of-a-kind home-grown shop featuring handmade merchandise repurposed from reclaimed items.

MakeShift Accessories, owned by artist-enterpreuner Devin Johnson, hometown boy come back home to Northfield, is my kind of store with its authentic artsy vibe.

FYI: To learn more about MakeShift Accessories, 418 Division Street, click here to reach the business website. Or, if you’re at Junk Bonanza today at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, scout out Johnson’s booth.

His work is also sold in Minneapolis at “I like You,” Gallery 360 and Mill City Museum; in New Prague at Cranky Alice; and in other locations.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling