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On the Road: Freeborn, Minnesota

Freeborn, Minnesota. Population of about 300.

"News gets around fast, that’s for sure. There’s no doubt about that," local Freeborn resident Jim Beach said.  

Jim Beach is a local, Freeborn expert. 

We found him at TB3’s – the only local bar and grill in town – planning his high school reunion. 

Their high school has since closed, yet, Beach has been apart of town for majority of his life.

"I think probably some of it is, you know just about everybody in town on a first name basis," Beach said. "It’s nice to walk around town see them and say hi to them and know who they are. Sometimes you go to a big city and you don’t even know your next door neighbor."

The city was first established in 1857 – not to be confused with Freeborn County – the quaint little town is surrounded by farm land and sits on Freeborn Lake. 

"I personally don’t see the town growing. Its stayed the same population for the past 60 years that I remember," Beach said. 

Bonnie Schuster, a local historian buff, is another town expert, marrying into the Freeborn life 50 years ago. She loves the close knit community its size brings. 

"They are extended family. You care about them and you know whats going on in their lives lives..but you go home and its all yours," Schuster said. "Its selfish. I wish more people could have it." 

But perhaps what the town is most know for is being the birthplace of the FFA corn drive; a tradition that started in 1953 after strong wind took down the crops. 

Back then kids took a day off school to pick up the fallen corn. All proceeds went to a handicapped man in town. 

Some FFA chapters still do physically collect corn for the fundraiser, but now for Freeborn, it’s a golf tournament. 

"They decided they they couldn’t drop that tradition. Now Jim and his friends have the golf tournament and wine tasting benefit each year. They’ve contributed over 200,000 since they started," Schuster said.   

Besides its 11 local businesses, a lot of town entertainment is based around the farmland. 

Trapping shooting and hunting plays a big part of their life. Many folks spend time at the golf course down the road playing a round or game of cribbage. 

"Agriculture drives it…that’s the main industry. Its a very old town. One of the oldest around," Schuster said.

For residents, its simple. They stay here for the way it makes them feel.

"Cared for. That’s a good summary," a friend of Beach’s, Dale Christopherson said. 


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