A scene in downtown Mazeppa, photographed in October 2016.
SMALL TOWNS CONTINUE to hold my interest.
The former creamery in Mazeppa houses the city maintenance garage and also serves as a backdrop for historical art.
Therein I often find unexpected delights, but also decline. Most of these communities are not the places they once were with thriving businesses lining Main Street. You know the story.
Out for a walk in downtown Mazeppa, October 2016.
Still, these towns are home to life-long residents or kids who stuck around or newbies—folks looking for a quiet and affordable place to live within driving distance of jobs outside city boundaries.
People make a town. And if they’re lucky, locals still have places to gather for fish fries and beer and BINGO and a meal out. Gathering spots—restaurants, bars, schools, churches and more—provide that sense of community essential to small towns.
WD’s, destroyed by fire, was a community gathering spot.
I saw those communal places when I visited Mazeppa in October 2016 (although one—WD’s Bar & Grill recently burned to the ground).
Patriotism often runs strong in small towns. The presence of the well-kept American Legion Post 588 in the heart of downtown Mazeppa confirms that.
Mazeppa is a visual delight for a photographer. Signs crafted by local sign painter Mike Meyer give this southeastern Minnesota riverside community a signature artsy look. This is a town I remember.
That’s the thing, too, about small towns. They need an identity to draw visitors. A unique business or three. A historical site. A theater or other arts venue. A natural attraction.
The Maple Street Bridge crosses the north branch of the Zumbro River a block off Mazeppa’s Main Street.
How often have you sidetracked off a main highway or interstate, or even a county road, to drive through a small town, maybe even stop? Not that often, I expect. But you’re missing something by not doing so. You’re missing out on people and places and experiences that are grassroots America. Interesting. Yes, even that quintessential word “charming.” Perhaps vibrant or thriving. Maybe not. But still at their root essence, authentic.
Propped by Mike Meyer’s sign shop.
In 1912, an addition was made to the bank building to house the local newspaper.
Signage on the side of the historical society building.
TELL ME about a favorite small town and why you appreciate the community.
© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling