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For what it’s worth, my two cents

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Nov 1, 2020

Maybe you noticed it too, in the town or city where you live. Or in the town you live nearby, if you live in the countryside.

An increase in people out and about enjoying the great outdoors this past summer.

I guess they say it was because of the coronavirus pandemic. People couldn’t gather at bars, restaurants, stores and other public places, so they hit the great outdoors.

I don’t know if it was true everywhere, but I noticed lots of people out biking and walking around Blue Earth. More than in the past summers, I believe. But I suspect it was true in most places – people just wanted to get out.

They were also enjoying our city parks.

In Blue Earth, as well as much of Faribault County, we are blessed with some really nice city parks.

The Parks and Rec Committee here has been targeting making improvements in the parks each year, and it shows. New playground equipment, shelters and other amenities and improvements really make the parks a nice place to visit.

My personal favorite is Steinberg Park. What, you don’t know about it? It is Blue Earth’s hidden gem.

Tucked away on the east side of town along the river, it is a nature park. It has a great walking path that includes a side trail along the river bluff. And it is filled with native grasses and wild flowers.

My wife and I walked it a lot this past summer. It was great watching how it changed from early spring to wonderful summer and then a beautiful fall. It is an awesome place, with picnic tables, a shelter and even a restroom.

If you have never seen it, stop in sometime.

The park gets used quite a bit. I don’t think we were ever there without at least a couple cars in the parking lot. Perhaps I shouldn’t promote it so much. It could get overcrowded.

Other parks in Blue Earth are also very nice. And of course, one of the city parks is the fairgrounds. It amazed me this past summer to see how many people go to the fairgrounds to walk the mile long path around it, or sit and have lunch under the big oak trees. It is another popular place to enjoy and even without a county fair this year, it was used a lot.

There are great parks in other towns in Faribault County, as well.

Take Winnebago for example. They have done a tremendous job making improvements to their West City Park. New playground equipment (with even a zip line, for heavens sake!) and other improvements have really transformed that park. Wells has a couple of wonderful parks – one with the great name of Half Moon Park. Even smaller towns, like Easton, have made recent big improvements to their city parks.

So what is my point?

Well, I guess it is that I like parks, and I think it is important for towns to have some nice parks and things like biking and walking trails for people to be able to use for exercise and just plain enjoy.

There is a group of folks who also feel that way. There are a couple of Active Living Coalitions (ALC) in Faribault County towns, as well as in Martin and Watonwan counties.

The groups were formed and funded through the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP).

In Blue Earth, the ALC has been promoting biking and walking and other ways to stay active and healthy for several years. They have been promoting trails, crosswalks, bike paths and more.

They have purchased bike racks, pedestrian crossing signs, a bike maintenance station at Giant Park, and the new trails information kiosk at Giant Park, as well.

And, last spring, with the other groups in the three counties, they purchased the 20 bikes – along with a trailer to haul them – which will be used for bike safety classes at schools, and for groups to use for bike outings and activities.

So here is the final point.

We probably all need to get more exercise than we do. There are those dedicated fitness people, but for most of us, we have lots of other things to do and we have to make time for doing some exercise.

And, of course, it is a bit more difficult in the winter.

Just remember, there is the Faribault County Fitness Center – which just held their annual open house – and they have many programs you can get involved in.

And, the ALC is going to try and get a group formed for cross country skiing and snowshoeing this winter.

And, believe it or not, there are people who go out walking all winter long, no matter the weather or the cold temps. (I’m married to one of those people.)

So, I guess this winter I’ll have to go check out what Steinberg Park looks like covered in snow…