Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Lots to do in the Faribault area this autumn weekend October 12, 2018

“Grandview Farm Cat” by Faribault animal portrait artist Julie M. Fakler. Julie is among artists participating in this weekend’s South Central Minnesota Studio ARTour. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

ART. FOOD. FUN. Those and so much more are part of multiple events scheduled in and around Faribault during a jam-packed autumn weekend. Here’s a list of area happenings. For more information, click on the highlighted links within each event mini snapshot.

 

Kelly Lake, rural Faribault, photographed last October. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2017.

 

We’re only an hour south of Minneapolis along Interstate 35, making this a perfect day trip destination. While you’re here, check out our historic downtown and even take a drive in the country to see the fall colors. The rural areas, especially around Rice County’s many lakes, present some of the best colors in this region of Minnesota, in my opinion. (Click here for a view of last year’s fall colors.)

 

Art supplies photographed during a previous Studio ARTour. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

2018 Studio ARTour of South Central Minnesota

Meet 38 artists at 19 sites (many of them studios) during this weekend arts event that covers the Faribault, Northfield, Nerstrand and Farmington areas. This presents a great opportunity to talk to and view and buy art from artists who work with everything from wood to ceramics to paint and much more. Some studios open on Friday already with others open Saturday and Sunday. Click here for details.

 

Well-kept and well-traveled paths take hikers deep into Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Big Woods Run

Rise early Saturday to take in this annual marathon and more hosted by St. John’s United Church of Christ, Wheeling Township east of Faribault. Start time is 9 a.m. with later starts for the kids’ K. The route takes participants into Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, known for its remarkable autumn beauty. Click here and here for registration, schedule and more.

 

Buckham Memorial Library, Faribault, Minnesota. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Athens of the West Free Walking Tour

Local historian and artist Jeff Jarvis hosts two free walking tours through downtown Faribault, beginning at Buckham Memorial Library on Saturday, the first tour at 11:30 a.m., the second at 2 p.m. Jarvis will explain via this tour how Faribault became known as “The Athens of the West.” Tour groups are limited to 15. Click here for details.

 

Costumed kids parade through historic downtown Faribault during a previous fall fest. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Faribault Main Street Fall Festival

Historic downtown Faribault is the setting for this annual October celebration that features a costume parade for kids, a chili cook-off, Faribault Foods Fall Frolic 5K Walk/Run and lots more. Come hungry as you can sample the chilis for $5. Click here for everything you need to know about this event set for Saturday.

 

Perusing merchandise at the Faribault Woolen Mill retail store. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

The Legendary Warehouse Sale, Faribault Woolen Mill

From 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday, the historic woolen mill offers selected products at sale prices. This event always draws a crowd to the mill store along the banks of the Cannon River on Faribault’s north side. Click here for additional info.

 

Attendees at a past A Night at the Museum fill the one-room school for classes. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Night at the Museum

The Rice County Historical Society hosts its annual Night at the Museum, a living history type event from 4 – 7 p.m. Saturday at the county museum followed by music and stories around the campfire from 7 – 8 p.m. Click here for details.

 

You’ll get this food and more at the Trinity North Morristown church dinner. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Harvest Dinner & Fall Festival, Trinity Lutheran Church, North Morristown

If you crave great homemade food prepared by church people, this dinner is for you. From 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Sunday, the good folks of this country church will serve a turkey and ham dinner with all the fixings. I’ve attended this dinner multiple times and it is, by far, my favorite church dinner. Also browse the crafts, canned goods and treats for sale. Find more info by clicking here.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Faribault area welcomes you to bike, run, eat, drink, learn about history & more this weekend October 6, 2016

 

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FARIBAULT CELEBRATES FALL this Saturday with a day jammed full of activities for all ages.

If you’ve never been to my southeastern Minnesota community, please join us. If you live here, appreciate what Faribault offers. Here’s a round-up of events slated for Saturday, most in our historic downtown:

Faribault’s Fall Festival begins at noon with the Children’s Costume Parade starting at Community Co-op and continuing north along Central Avenue to Fifth Street. Afterwards, kids, accompanied by adults, can trick-or-treat at downtown businesses until 3 p.m.

Additionally, there will be pumpkin painting, yard games and unicycle shows to keep families and other folks busy and entertained.

 

Participants in last year's Chili Contest dish up chili at a business along Central Avenue during the Fall Festival.

Sampling chili during a Fall Festival in downtown Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

From 12:20 – 2:30 p.m., chili lovers, for a $5 fee, can sample chili from stands set up along historic Central Avenue.

 

The Adam Weyer Wagon Shop, built of limestone in 1874, is among historic buildings on the tour.

The Adam Weyer Wagon Shop, constructed of limestone in 1874, is among historic buildings on the tour. Weyer built buggies, carriages, wagons and bobsleds here from 1874 in to the early 1900s. He then opened a blacksmith shop. Today the building houses Carriage House Liquors.

 

Even before the costume parade, a free guided Old Town walking and biking tour of historical sites in downtown Faribault is scheduled from 10 – 11:30 a.m. Participants should meet at Buckham Center, 11 East Division Street.

 

And the volunteer firemen were on duty.

Firefighters return from a call in Marine on St. Croix, on the eastern side of Minnesota. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo used for illustration purposes only.

 

Also at 10 a.m., until 2 p.m., the Faribault Fire Department hosts its annual open house. Kids can meet fire fighters and Sparky The Fire Dog. There will be free demos, free fire hats and free smoke detectors.

 

We wanted to sample all of the beers on tap, so we ordered a flight.

A sampler of F-Town beers. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Half a block off Central Avenue, F-Town Brewing kicks off its F-Oktoberfest at 11 a.m. with Gravel Grinder, a 50-mile charity bike race.

Brewery fun continues for 12 more hours with food trucks, live music and plenty of F-Town beer.

 

"Shoe Stories" opened Friday at the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault.

The Paradise Center for the Arts is housed in a beautifully restored theater. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

At the Paradise Center for the Arts, 321 Central Avenue North, the arts center hosts the Paradise Haunted Basement Tour from 1 – 3 p.m.

And for music fans, the Paradise presents A Tribute to “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen at 7 p.m. Admission price is $15 for members and $20 for non-members.

 

Math class is underway inside the one-room Pleasant Valley School.

Math class is underway inside the one-room Pleasant Valley School during a past “A Night at the Museum.” Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

On the north side of town by the Rice County Fairgrounds, the Rice County Historical Society opens its doors and grounds for the fourth annual “A Night at the Museum.” The event, with a $2 admission price for adults and $1 for kids, runs from 4 – 7 p.m. It’s a great opportunity to observe and participate in living history.

 

hope-in-harmony

 

At River Valley Church, 722 Ravine St., the Lakelanders Acapella Chorus will present a 7 p.m. concert benefiting three local organizations that help women dealing with issues like domestic violence, homelessness, addiction, etc. Admission is a free will offering.

There you go. Lots to do in Faribault on Saturday. Come, join the fun, eat (and drink) local, shop local and appreciate all this community offers.

 

BONUS:

Well-kept and well-traveled paths take hikers deep into the Big Woods.

Well-kept and well-traveled paths take hikers deep into the Big Woods at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. The park is known for its incredible fall foliage. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Just to the east of Faribault, St. John’s United Church of Christ, Wheeling Township, hosts its annual Big Woods Run half marathon/10K/5K/kids K through Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. The events begins at 9 a.m. New this year is a guided prairie walk and nature talk.

 

Delicious home-cooked food fills roasters at Trinity's annual fall harvest dinner on Sunday.

Delicious home-cooked food fills roasters at Trinity’s annual fall harvest dinner in the church basement. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.

 

On Sunday, to the west of Faribault at Trinity Lutheran Church, North Morristown, the church will host its annual fall dinner and craft/bake sale. For $12 (ages 13 and up; $5 for those 6 – 12)) you can enjoy a homemade meal of turkey, ham and all the fixings. I’ve eaten here many times and this is an incredibly delicious meal cooked by folks who know how to cook. The food is delicious, the portions ample and the company welcoming and friendly. Serving is from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Logo from Faribault Main Street, key organizer of the Faribault Fall Festival.

 

From North Morristown: Church basement food & fellowship October 13, 2015

THE OCCASIONAL LUMP in mashed potatoes is culinarily acceptable to me, because it means the potatoes are real. Not instant.

Delicious home-cooked food fills roasters at Trinity's annual fall harvest dinner on Sunday.

Delicious home-cooked food fills roasters at Trinity’s annual fall harvest dinner on Sunday. That’s gravy in the first roaster and squash in the second.

When you dine at the annual fall harvest dinner at Trinity Lutheran Church North Morristown, as I did on Sunday, you get (mostly) authentic homemade food. Potatoes that have been peeled and mashed in the church basement. Sometimes with lumps. Baked turkey and ham sliced into roasters. Squash picked from the garden and baked. Cranberries that are prepared, not dumped from a can.

Volunteers sell tickets outside the church.

Volunteers sell tickets outside the church.

As much as I savor the delicious food served at this church dinner, I also delight in the location and the people.

Trinity Lutheran Church North Morristown

Trinity Lutheran Church North Morristown

To drive into the country on an October Sunday to celebrate the harvest among hard-working folks rooted in the land seems a rural pilgrimage.

A snippet of the stained glass window in the balcony.

A snippet of the stained glass window in the balcony.

Diners file into the sanctuary through a side door and wait in pews until dining space opens in the basement.

Diners file into the sanctuary through a side door and wait in pews until dining space opens in the basement.

Stunning stained glass windows line the sides of the sanctuary.

Stunning stained glass windows line the sides of the sanctuary.

To wait in the pews of an aged church, stained glass windows filtering light, seems almost sacred.

A member of the kitchen crew dishes up meals for take-out.

Members of the kitchen crew dish up meals for take-out.

In the fellowship of church diners, there’s a reverent respect for those who labor in the church basement. For they provide that which fills the stomach as much as the soul with all that is good. Food and fellowship.

Decorations celebrate a thankfulness to God for the harvest.

Decorations celebrate a thankfulness to God for the harvest.

Whether you come with family or friends or no one you know, you'll soon be engaged in conversation.

Whether you come with family or friends or no one, you’ll soon be engaged in conversation.

Two lines keep things moving. About 430 diners attended Sunday's dinner.

Two lines keep things moving. About 430 diners attended Sunday’s dinner.

Dining in the church basement.

Dining in the church basement.

There’s something simply satisfying about sitting on a folding chair in the closeness of a church basement communing with others at a Thanksgiving style meal. Conversation and pass the coleslaw please. Or the cranberries. Clatter of knives and forks and a swarm of volunteers squeezing between tables to pour coffee and deliver plates of frosted cakes and then, afterward, to clear plates and set new place settings.

The pastor and his family raise chickens in a backyard coop.

The pastor and his family raise chickens in a backyard coop.

North Morristown is authentically, next to cornfields and farm sites, rural. It’s as rural as chickens in the pastor’s backyard.

Sven the dog plays catch me.

Sven the dog plays catch me.

It’s as rural as Sven the dog roaming the church grounds.

Just down the road from Trinity, harvest is underway at this farm.

Just down the road from Trinity, harvest is underway at this farm.

It’s as rural as a grain truck and a wagon brimming with soybeans a farm site away.

Vehicles ringed the church and school during Sunday's dinner.

Vehicles ring the church and school during Sunday’s dinner.

No pretentiousness exists here. Even the pastor excuses himself to wash dishes in the church basement.

BONUS PHOTOS:

Gigantic painted pumpkins sat outside the church and school. Kids at the school painted pumpkins as part of art class.

Gigantic painted pumpkins sit outside the church and school. Kids at the school painted pumpkins as part of art class.

A camo pumpkin.

A camo pumpkin.

Produce, baked and canned goods, crafts and more were sold in a back room of the church basement.

Produce, baked and canned goods, crafts and more are sold in a back room of the church basement.

Church members brought in canned produce to sell like these pickles.

Church members bring in canned produce to sell, like these pickles.

Several years ago I photographed this lovely woman drying dishes. S

Several years ago I photographed this lovely woman drying dishes. She worked for years at the dinner, but is no longer able to do so. I found her resting at the craft and bake sale.

My friend Tammy, a native of North Morristown, crafted these caramel crosses and other items for the craft sale.

My friend Tammy, a native of North Morristown, crafted these caramel crosses and other items for the craft sale.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Dear God, please restore the power October 14, 2014

Parked outside Trinity Lutheran Church North Morristown on Sunday morning for the congregation's annual fall dinner.

Parked outside Trinity Lutheran Church North Morristown on Sunday morning for the congregation’s annual fall dinner.

THE IRISH I M van parked outside the German Lutheran Church makes me laugh.

And it’s good to laugh on a Sunday morning when the power has been out for hours and the Lutheran ladies have been scurrying, along with their anxious husbands, to cart roasters of hot food from the church basement.

It is the morning of Trinity North Morristown’s annual fall dinner and the worst possible date for the power to fail at a nearby substation.

Before worship services on a Sunday morning at Trinity Lutheran Church, North Morristown.

Before worship services on a Sunday morning at Trinity Lutheran Church, North Morristown. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Upstairs in the sanctuary, pews are nearly empty as congregants scramble to move food to the homes of parishioners with power and to nearby Camp Omega. Eventually the pews fill. The church organist gathers her songbooks from the balcony and hurries to the piano at the front of the sanctuary.

The pastor jokes, during the morning worship service, about his strong and resilient German Lutheran congregation, then prays later for the electricity to come back on.

But when he blesses worshipers, the lights are still out.

So the well isn’t working and the toilet can’t be flushed except it can with water hauled in milk cans to pour into the toilet tank.

Outside, the scent of coffee wafts from an open kettle set atop a propane fueled burner.

Tickets for the dinner are selling and diners file in a side door, up the steps and into pews to await dismissal to the basement. Food has been hauled back, down the stairs, into the semi dark kitchen.

In the dim light of the sanctuary, conversation flows with the comfort that comes from visiting within the close confines of a small country church.

Then, just like that, the lights flick on at 11:10 a.m. Applause erupts. An audible gasp escapes, though, when the power flickers, off and on, before remaining on.

Dinner, tables set

Tables await diners in the church basement. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Diners file to the basement, the IRISH I M and the Lutherans, to feast on ham and turkey and to give thanks for an answer to prayer.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Simple country joys November 12, 2013

IT’S 10:30 ON A SUNDAY MORNING and I am savoring a slice of yellow cake topped with vanilla pudding and a dollop of whipped cream.

Trinity's basement, set up before the annual October fall dinner. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Trinity’s basement, set up before the annual October fall dinner. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2011.

I really shouldn’t be eating cake; I don’t need it. But my husband and I have been personally invited by Jean into the basement of Trinity Lutheran Church, North Morristown, for the fellowship hour after worship services. We are visitors.

Beautiful Trinity Lutheran Church. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Trinity Lutheran Church, a small country church west of Faribault in North Morristown. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2011.

I’m not about to pass on this opportunity to mingle with folks in this rural Rice County church. They are a friendly bunch. These congregants know us as we’ve attended church dinners and the annual North Morristown Fourth of July celebration many times.

I feel comfortable here, chit chatting with Jean about her granddaughter who attends college in South Dakota and is working as a waitress for $2.50/hour. Our discussion centers on whether such a wage is even legal. “How can it be?” we ask one another, incredulous.

But before we can resolve the pay issue, one of the pastor’s sons bolts into the basement clutching something in his hand. He unfurls his fingers to reveal an egg.

“Our first egg!” he exclaims as his older brother peers across the table at the precious brown egg and Dad enthuses about the first egg laid by the flock of 25 chickens. I learn then that the pastor’s boys sold futures on eggs—30 dozen at $6/dozen—during a recent fundraising auction for Cannon Valley Lutheran High School. Now that the hens are starting to lay, it will soon be time to deliver on those purchases.

As I witness this enthusiasm over an egg, I am reminded that sometimes it is the simplest things which give us the most joy. A brown egg in a boy’s hand in a country church basement on a Sunday morning. You can’t make this stuff up.

On bald eagle in this shot, or any I took, but simple joys in viewing this rural scene along Rice County Road 12 on the way to church in North Morristown.

No bald eagle in this shot, or any I took, but simple joy in viewing this rural scene along Rice County Road 12 on the way to church in North Morristown. There’s something about the big sky and the red barn…

Then, after we’ve left the church basement and the boy and his egg and wonder whether he might smash it between his fingers in his excitement, we are equally as excited to spot a bald eagle winging above farm fields. Simple joys. Like cradling a brown egg in your hand in a country church basement.

Horses in the pasture drew my camera, not a deer dangling from a tree.

Horses in the pasture, not a deer hung from a tree, drew my camera on the way home from church.

And then I glimpse a dead deer dangling from a tree, half-skinned, hunters clustered around the body. I am not overjoyed at the sight. But I expect these men are excited. Like cradling a brown egg in your hand in a country church basement.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

The season of church dinners October 23, 2011

To everything there is a season, and a time for every harvest dinner in the church basement:

A time to be prepared

And a time to enlist volunteers;

A time to bake

And a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to pull out the plates and roasters

And a time to feed those who come seeking nourishment;

A time to serve the hungry waiting in line

And a time to dish up meals for those who want take-out;

A time to savor good home-cooking

in the company of family and friends;

A time to remember the past in old photos and conversation

And a time to welcome new friends into the fold;

A time to encourage those who labor tirelessly in the kitchen

And a time to be thankful for this land we love, in the season of harvest.

THESE PHOTOS were taken at the recent Trinity Lutheran Church, North Morristown, annual fall harvest dinner, country store and bake sale.

Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Worshipping at a country church October 16, 2011

Before worship services on a Sunday morning at Trinity Lutheran Church, North Morristown.

“THERE’S ONE MORE THING to do,” said the Rev. Merle Lebahn, vacancy pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, North Morristown, before dismissing his congregation. “Give ‘em heaven!”

And so concluded one of the most dynamic worship services I’ve attended in a long time. Pastor Lebahn didn’t deliver a fire-and-brimstone sermon in this country church. But he shared a message memorable both in content and method of presentation.

Pastor Lebahn gets front and center when he gives the children's lesson, just as he does during the sermon.

He’s not a preach-from-the-pulpit style of preacher, but rather an up-close, center-of-the aisle, close-to-his-flock kind of clergyman. His voice rises to a near shout when he wants to emphasize a point and then drops to a quiet, gentle cadence to drive home the message.

And that message last Sunday reflected on the gospel lesson from Luke 10 and the story of the Good Samaritan. Remember that bible story about the beaten man lying at the side of the road, passed by many until, finally, a Samaritan stopped to help?

Rev. Lebahn told us we were the beaten ones lying in the ditch until we received Christ.

He talked, too, about crossroads in our lives and about the people God brings into those crossroads.

I could go on and on about that sermon. But I think you get the main point delivered by this 78-year-old clergyman who looks, and acts, considerably younger than a near octogenarian. Consider his foot stomping and arm flailing and constant motion. I got tired just watching from my end-pew position in this sanctuary that holds 26 six-person pews on the lower level and a few more in the balcony.

A view of the balcony in this 1938 rural church.

It’s the type of snug church where you won’t get away with napping during the sermon, like you could anyway under Pastor Lebahn’s watch.

There’s something about worshipping in a small country church like this that you can’t replicate in a modern, large-scale church, even if you incorporate stained glass windows or other elements from an historic building.

I felt a sense of connection, of closeness, on Sunday as the congregation joined in prayer—for those celebrating anniversaries and birthdays and for those in need—and sang old favorite hymns like “Oh, That the Lord Would Guide My Ways.”

Looking from the entry into the sanctuary during worship services.

In the back of the church are pews for families with little ones.

Farm boy, 6-year-old Jonathan, after services in the basement.

You can’t help but feel close when you’re tucked into tightly-jammed pews in a place where a comfortable pair of jeans is as common as a suit and tie and where farm kids like 6-year-old Jonathan bring a mini toy John Deere haybinder to church to keep his little hands busy.

Because just outside the church doors lie fields of corn and alfalfa and soybeans…

To the right of the cornerstone, in the distance, you can see corn fields.

Looking heavenward...

The Last Supper art on the lower part of the altar.

In my next post about this church, I'll take you into the basement where this sign is located.

CHECK BACK FOR A POST about the harvest dinner at this country church following the worship service.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling