Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Kitschy Minnesota county fair art in Morris August 14, 2013

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I MAY HAVE MISSED attending the Stevens County Fair in Morris when I was in this western Minnesota community for a family reunion this past weekend.

Fair, front view of sign

But I didn’t miss this kitschy piece of fair advertising positioned on the corner of the Family Dollar parking lot downtown.

Fair, exhibits chair

I expect most of the locals are so used to seeing this mini Ferris wheel rolled out every summer that they think nothing of it. However, as an outsider and one who appreciates such homegrown creativity, this certainly caught my attention.

Fair, end view

My two regrets are these:

That I could not attend the fair because, even though I am not a fan of tromping around a fairgrounds among a crowd of people, I expect this rural fair would have appealed to me.

I did not see this Ferris wheel brightened by the holiday lights attached to the frame. In my mind’s eye, I can visualize the Christmas bulbs popping with color in the fading prairie sunset.

Fair, demo chair

THAT ALL SAID, if any current or former Stevens County residents can enlighten me as to the history of this homemade Ferris wheel, please share. Who made it, when, has it always been parked downtown…?

Fair, food chair

And what about the fair itself? What do you love about the Stevens County Fair?

For the rest of you readers, did/will you attend a county fair this summer? Let’s hear.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Gathering with the in-laws at the annual family reunion August 13, 2013

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Grandma Cheryl and Grandpa Roger help 6-month-old Aston make a luminary.

Grandma Cheryl and Grandpa Roger help 5-month-old grandson Aston with artwork on a luminary.

I AM BLESSED beyond measure to be a part of extended families who still care enough about the connections of blood lines and histories to reunite each summer.

This past weekend my husband, 19-year-old son and I headed north and west to the annual Helbling family reunion, this year in Morris. Our daughters, one of whom is preoccupied with wedding plans and packing to move while the other lives 10 hours from western Minnesota, could not attend. But I am used to that, having my own three together only once or twice a year.

Cousins and a cousin-in-law going strong in the gunny sack race until...

Cousins and a cousin-in-law going strong in the gunny sack race until…

...the brothers wipe out.

…the brothers wipe out.

Seeing my in-laws and their families, including lots of little ones, always proves a fun time from conversation to laughter and, this year, a few old-fashioned games tossed into the mix. No I did not participate. I am smarter than that.

The weather in Morris proved perfect with sunshine and intermittent clouds and temps more befitting of September than August. But I am not complaining. I love this kind of weather.

It was the perfect weekend, in so many ways.

My great nephew Cameron eyes the bocce balls.

My great nephew Cameron reaches for a Bocce ball rather than the smaller (and safer) child-sized balls.

Husband and wife team, right; my son and his godmother, middle; and niece and nephew-in-law line up for a three-legged race.

Husband (my nephew) and wife team, right; my son and his godmother (my sister-in-law), middle; and my niece and nephew-in-law line up for a three-legged race.

The final, ahem, leg of the race. The son and godmother were lagging way behind.

The final, ahem, leg of the race. The son and godmother were lagging way behind.

My nephew Nate tends to his nephew, Tristan, following a hand injury during a gunny sack race.

My nephew Nate tends to his nephew, Tristan, following a hand injury during a gunny sack race.

We all designed luminaries, including this one by my nephew-in-law Jason with his favorite quote, one that sits on his work desk.

We all designed luminaries, including this one by my nephew-in-law Jason with his favorite quote, one that sits on his work desk.

Jason and Jocelyn's oldest daughter, my great niece Meghan, works on her luminary.

Jason and Jocelyn’s oldest daughter, my great niece Meghan, works on her luminary.

Laughter and conversation around the campfire.

Laughter and conversation around the campfire.

The family luminaries light the path from the campfire and up the driveway to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law's home in Morris.

The family luminaries light the path from the campfire up the driveway to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s home in Morris.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling