Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Car show perspectives from downtown Faribault July 20, 2022

Randy tells me the unpainted condition is intentional, that this is “a thing.” (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

EVERY TIME I ATTEND a car show, like the Downtown Faribault Car Cruise Night last Friday evening, I discover new details that draw me in for a closer look. Often that means peering inside a vehicle. And often that means asking my automotive machinist husband for information. He’s knowledgeable about anything vehicle-related from under the hood to exterior to interior.

A beautiful vintage car interior. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

Because of Randy, I attended my first car show many years ago. Mostly I tagged along, expecting to be bored. But I wasn’t as I viewed the displayed cars and trucks through a creative, rather than an automotive, lens. That’s still my perspective.

Old and new vehicles parked outside Janna’s Market Grill, formerly Bernie’s Restaurant. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

Randy sees the whole of a vehicle, verbalizing how he wishes he still had his 64 Chevy, his first car. His mind is like a data bank of information on vehicle makes, models, years, original or not. It’s nice to have an automotive tour guide of sorts while meandering at a car show.

Dice are a popular adornment on vintage cars. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
Photographed through a car window, a footprint gas pedal. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
On the hood of a Cobra. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

My enthusiasm heightens when I spot something like a purple die atop a door lock or a footprint-shaped gas pedal. Randy noted some cars also had mini footprint dimmer switches. Who knew? Not me. And when I saw a Cobra emblem, he told me of their rarity.

The car show features a mix of vintage and newer vehicles. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

I appreciate his insights as we wind among the vehicles along three blocks of Faribault’s Central Avenue (we skipped the fourth block) on a lovely mid-July evening in southern Minnesota.

On the former bank building to the left, a ghost sign remains. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

Aged buildings flank the avenue, rising high, shadowing the street. I appreciate the architecture of these mostly well-kept buildings in this Historic District. I spot a ghost sign on the Security Bank building.

In the 300 block of Central Avenue, a sports car parks in front of the Paradise Center for the Arts. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
In the window of Good Day Coffee. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
Amazing how this windshield opens. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

At the Paradise Center for the Arts, marquee lights are visible in the dusk of day. Directly across the street, the neon of a Coffee sign glows in the window of Good Day Coffee. At 210 Central Avenue, two lights hang above double red doors. I notice them when Randy points to the open windshield of a car. Or maybe it was a truck. I don’t recall. But I’ve never seen anything like that—windshield hinging open.

I heeded this message, exercising extra caution while skirting this car. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
A car with a name, Tootie. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
I always spot interesting stickers on vehicle windows. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

Such nuances delight me, hold my interest, draw me to look closely. I notice stickers, license plates, messages to keep my hands off.

A mini model tops a car roof. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
Custom detailing on a Chevy. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)
Sports cars join in the Car Cruise. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

Attending a car show is about so much more than looking at and admiring vehicles. It’s about viewing the whole from hood to trunk and everything in between, inside and out. It’s about appreciating those who own these vehicles and are willing to share them with the public. It’s about art and history, memories and stories, and if you have a personal tour guide like me, an opportunity to learn.

Cars evolve. So do communities. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

And it’s about community. A coming together. Appreciating each other and this place, Faribault. Sometimes I don’t think long-time residents value our city enough. We need to pause, look up, look around, reflect. See the beauty in the historic buildings and in the people who live here. Respect and celebrate those who call downtown home. Faribault is evolving, growing, changing. Just like the cars at Car Cruise Night.

FYI: Please click here to read my first post on the July 15 Car Cruise Night in Faribault. And please check back for one final post in this three-part series.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling