Flecks Brewery started it's beer brewing operations in Faribault in 1856.  It closed in 1964.

Today the Fleckenstein Bluffs Park in Faribault was dedicated during a brief ceremony in the park that concluded with a ribbon cutting by a descendant of one of the final Fleckenstein family members to run the brewery.

During prohibition years the company made pop which continued until it's closing.

People could purchase a bottle of grape flavored pop made in Spring Grove with a Fleck's Brewery label for $5 a bottle.  I believe it's still availabe at the Rice County Historicaly Society Museum in Faribault.  You receive commemorative bottle caps along with the bottle of pop.

I spoke with a couple of people at the dedication who remembered drinking the pop in their youth and they stated the orange pop was exceptionally delicious.

Other flavors mentioned were strawberry and cream soda.

The weekend was billed the Fleck's Travaganza with a parde of vehicles Friday led by the 1946 Fleck's Brewing truck held in the rain.

The truck will be on Central Avenue for people to see and take pictures with on Sunday.

Fleck's Beer Logo on Delivery Truck Driver's Door. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld
Fleck's Beer Logo on Delivery Truck Driver's Door. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld

Paul Penansky, Faribault Parks and Recreation Director hosted the ceremony opening with thank yous to the Rice County Historical Society and Rice County Master Gardeners organization.

The Historical Society developed the idea for the Fleck's Travaganza.  The Master Gardeners planted a beautiful garden in the park.

Fleck's 1946 Delivery Truck Engine. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld
Fleck's 1946 Delivery Truck Engine. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld

Penansky told those in attendance the playground has already seen a lot of usage.

There is a small pavilion with bathrooms and a overlook structure where people can take photos with the Straight River and bluffs in the background.

Penansky added the city Public Works Department moved out of the buildings on the site in 2007.  The Parks and Recreation Committee started to look at designs of a park in 2009.

The naming of the park was an interesting process he noted with a dozen ideas and a  lot of research was put into the selection.

He said it was about a six to nine month process just choosing the name.

In July of 2021 construction on the park was started.

Mayor Kevin Voracek called the site, "A nice park that blends into the scenery.  It's not obtrusive.  Not one of these bright yellow and green or red parks.  It's a nice muted color and I think this park will provide a great spot for people over the years to come and enjoy the river and scenic outlook and remember a piece of our history."

Kelly Nygaard represented the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism and stated, "The redevelopment of this area into a beautiful park is going to provide years of joy for community members and visitors alike.  With the unobstructed view of the river and the proximity to downtown it is a unique and wonderful addition to the Faribault community."

Nygaard added the idea of celebrating the brewing history by naming the park after the owners of Flecks Brewing, " is a fitting tribute and the Rice County Historical Society are fantastic advocates and stewards of our area history."

She invited those in attendance to see more of the history of the area at the museum on the fairgrounds.

Nygaard said, "Huge thanks to the City of Faribault elected officials and staff and especially Paul at the Parks and Rec Department for the vision and leadership that these huge projects demand and for moving this park from imagination to reality."

Lola Brand, Parks and Recreation Committee member says when the bike trails are expanded the Fleckenstein Bluffs Park will be a perfect stop to rest or have a picnic.

Susan Garwood, RCHS Executive Director explained the area was home to a number of Dakota Native Americans before it became a dump and then the City Public Works Department had their home there for a number of years.

Garwood said, "When you look at this place think about all the fabulous stories this land has to tell.  Back to the first people here.  The Dakota were here for thousands of years and were here when Faribault began to take shape as a community."

"I don't know that when people were using this as a dump that they could envision what the future would be."

Brian Schmidt is a Faribault Fleck's fan who sold his collection to the State Bank of Faribault.  He used to go to the old brewery site looking for memorability and cut himself on a Fleck's bottle and "I think it stuck in my blood."

Schmidt is on the RCHS Board and encouraged people to see the Fleck's Brewery collection at the State Bank of Faribault.

Al Fleckenstein, a descendant of the family that owned the brewery for all of it's 108 years in operation flew in from Oregon to thank the community.

He pointed out the limestone bluffs caves are what brought the Fleckenstein's to Faribault from Germany because the lager beer they produced needed to be in temperatures under 43 degrees Fahrenheit in order to ferment.

Great information here for all of us.

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