Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Pedal power & princesses in small town Minnesota July 8, 2015

Every single contestant was encouraged.

Every single contestant is encouraged.

THERE’S SOMETHING SUBLIMELY SWEET about a kids’ pedal tractor pull. I think it’s an underlying sense of community pulling together, of almost physically placing your feet on the pedals and willing a toy tractor to move forward that endears me to this rural competition.

Spectators, including a reenactor from the nearby History of Trails, line the trail.

Spectators, including a reenactor from the nearby Trails of History, line the trail for the pedal tractor pull.

Sunday afternoon in small town Elysian, I first heard the encouraging roar of the crowd before I spotted folks lining a section of the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail for the Kid Power Pedal Pull.

Trying...

Trying…

The coveted trophies.

The coveted trophies.

Here, along this paved path, youngsters gripped the steering wheel of a mini White tractor and powered forward, aiming to win a tractor topped trophy.

 

Pedal tractor pull, princess pedaling in Elysian, 384

 

Pedal tractor pull, princess close-up in Elysian, 389

 

Pedal tractor pull, princess pedaling view 3 in Elysian, 392

 

I especially delighted in the determined and dainty Second Princess of Elysian who settled onto the tractor seat in her fancy lavender dress, grasped the wheel and pedaled in sandals, all the while smiling. If ever there was a princess who owned the moment, it was this sweet little girl.

 

Pedal tractor pull, a kiss for the winner in Elysian, 376

 

Equally as memorable was the moment a mother bent to kiss the cheek of her son who’d just received a trophy.

He came from the Trails of History to observe the pedal tractor pull with friends.

He came from the Trails of History to observe the pedal tractor pull with friends.

More reenactors watching.

More reenactors watching.

Another reenactor at the pedal pull.

Another reenactor at the pedal pull.

The event drew all ages.

The event drew all ages.

As I watched, I observed not only the contestants but also those watching the competition. These are the moments worth noticing, worth celebrating.

Princesses and winners pose for photos.

Princesses and winners pose for photos.

This is what life is all about in small town Minnesota. The moments. The sense of community. The coming together of all ages for awhile on a Sunday summer afternoon to be entertained. Applause. Smiles. Princesses.

FYI: Please check back for more photos from Elysian’s weekend celebration of the Fourth of July.

Click here to learn more about Kid Power Pedal Tractor Pulls.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Celebrating rural America at a kids’ pedal tractor pull in Morristown June 3, 2013

Heavy clouds rolled in from the west as I stood on the west edge of the ball field in Morristown late Saturday afternoon.

Heavy clouds rolled in from the west as I stood on the west edge of the ball field in Morristown late Saturday afternoon.

ONLY BLOCKS FROM THE HEART of Morristown, next to Babe Nordmeier Field on the west edge of town, corn sprouts in tidy rows upon the fertile earth.

This southeastern Minneosta community runs rural through and through with businesses centered on agriculture. Farmers live and work on land passed down through generations.

I climbed onto the back of the riser/stage to shoot this photo. In the foreground, behind the Dam Days royalty, are the trophies and ribbons and perhaps other prizes in the bags.

I climbed onto the back of the riser/stage to shoot this photo. In the foreground, behind the Dam Days royalty, are the trophies and ribbons and perhaps other prizes in the bags.

On Saturday afternoon, locals and those who grew up here, and others, like me, gathered under a tent on Main Street to watch the Kids’ Pedal Tractor Pull during the annual Dam Days celebration. It’s a grassroots event that melds a deep appreciation of the town’s rural roots with the connections of family and friendly competition.

Even the Dam Days princesses participated in the pedal pull. Look at the faces in the crowd.

Even the Dam Days princesses participated in the pedal pull. Look at the faces in the crowd.

As I observed the pedal pull, I focused not only on the determined little ones peddling with all their might, but on the proud parents, the equally encouraging grandparents, the enthusiastic siblings, the sweet princesses and more.

Cameras and encouragement abounded.

Cameras and encouragement abounded.

Before me I viewed a competition, yes. But I also noted smiles and felt that sense of community which prevails in the heart of rural America. At this moment in time, in this small town, all is well in the world.

The vehicle of competition, momentarily parked.

The vehicles of competition, momentarily parked.

This little guy cheers on a competitor.

This little guy cheers on a competitor.

...while this preschooler was getting tired. She wasn't sleeping, but...

…while this preschooler was getting tired. She wasn’t sleeping, but…

Cheering on a contestant.

Cheering on a contestant.

Dam Days royalty turned around and flashed their royal smiles when they realized I was behind them.

Sweet Dam Days royalty turned around and flashed their royal smiles when they realized I was behind them.

One word: Determined.

Happy and determined.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling