Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Charming Northfield, Minnesota August 5, 2019

A pedestrian bridge crosses the Cannon River in the heart of downtown Northfield.


CHARMING. That word, when tagged to towns, seems overused. But I attach that adjective to Northfield because it fits.


As a fan of historic architecture, I appreciate all the old buildings that define Northfield’s downtown.


This college town, hugging the banks of the Cannon River in southern Minnesota, charms with its downtown historic architecture,


On the Carleton College campus, a lovely nature area.


its natural beauty,


Message on the exterior of the Northfield Arts Guild.


its artsy focus,



A patch of tomatoes grows in the boulevard in this bike-friendly city.


its front-yard flower and vegetable gardens,


The entry to The Contented Cow.


its home-grown shops and eateries, and much more.


A section of a poem stamped into a Northfield sidewalk.


Think independent bookstore, Content. Think The Contented Cow, a British style pub. Think Tanzenwald and Imminent breweries and Loon Liquors Distillery and Cocktail Room. Think Sidewalk Poetry, public art sculptures, the Northfield Arts Guild. Think the First National Bank of Northfield (robbed by the James-Younger Gang) now turned historical society.



Today I feature a few photos from Northfield in images taken after the rain finally stopped on a recent Saturday. Enjoy this glimpse of a community that bills itself as the place of “cows, colleges and contentment.” That fits given the rural setting, St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges, and the seeming contentment of those who live and visit this city.


The river runs through, making Northfield’s downtown especially picturesque.


TELL ME: Have you visited Northfield or do you live there? If so, tell me what you love about this town. Or tell me about a similar community you would tag as charming.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Animal art March 20, 2012

Some of Julie Fakler's pet portraits displayed at the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault.

COLORS, VIBRANT AND BOLD, first draw you toward Julie Fakler’s art in a current exhibit. But move closer and it is the expressive eyes that connect you to the subjects of her portraits, adoptive animals from Prairie’s Edge Humane Society in Faribault.

“I paint domestic animals and I was trying to think of a way to help out local domestic animals,” says this Faribault artist. “That’s when I came up with the idea to paint portraits of the animals at the Prairie’s Edge Humane Society.” The local animal shelter will receive a portion of the sales from portraits sold during Julie’s current exhibit.

A snippet of a cat portrait by Julie.

Julie merges her skills as an artist and her passion for animals into acrylic hardboard portraits that practically pull the viewer in for a closer look.

Her work is showing locally in two galleries with “Prairie’s Edge Humane Society Portraits” at the Paradise Center for the Arts, 321 Central Avenue, Faribault, through April 17 and “New Work” at the Northfield Arts Guild, 304 Division Street, Northfield, through March 31.

Recently, I perused Julie’s PCA exhibit for the second time, this visit with camera in tow and with the artist’s permission to photograph her work.

Adoptable cats and dogs are the subject of her Paradise exhibit. A grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council and McKnight Foundation funded the body of her work and the gallery show.

I’m not a pet owner. But Julie’s engaging portraits will cause anyone to fall for these adoptable animals whose spirits shine in her creations. In her artist statement, this Minnesota College of Arts and Design graduate says: “The images of the animals represent their energy, personality and physical attributes.”

I agree. I remember the first time I saw Julie’s art, during a studio art tour in the autumn of 2010. Her use of bold, mostly primary, colors give her work a memorable, signature flair. I thought then, and still think, that her vibrant art would suit a children’s picture book. Or maybe t-shirts or handbags or…

The possibilities seem endless for Julie’s art.

The vibrant colors and sweet faces in Julie's art are irresistible.

FYI: Click here for more information about artist Julie Fakler.

Click here to learn about Prairie’s Edge Humane Society.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling