Guest Column: Why I Love Albert Lea
By Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson lives in Albert Lea and is the owner of Intego Insurance Services. She has two rescue dogs, Cash and June. She enjoys outdoor activities, traveling and various creative pursuits.
I found out how much I loved Albert Lea by moving away. I grew up on a farm near Alden and was ready to leave small-town life behind after graduation. I attended the University of Minnesota with 50,000 of my closest friends. After graduating with a degree in agricultural industries and marketing, I moved to Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. For 15 years I took advantage of educational and career opportunities, enjoyed the communities I lived in, made friends and lived life.
In 2013 I made the decision to move home and transition into ownership of my mom’s business — Donna Nelson Insurance, now Intego Insurance Services. I never thought I’d move home, but you know what they say about never say never.
My love for Albert Lea grew when I moved back and saw the community through the eyes of a new resident and not a bored teenager. The lake! The parks! The cute downtown! The lack of traffic! The lack of crime!
One of the first stops back in Albert Lea was to get my library card. I always loved the library and was even more impressed to see its new offerings. I use the library’s Hoopla system so that I’m never without an audiobook. I enjoy browsing the shelves and think the programming the library offers is fantastic. The views at the library are amazing, too.
Something else I enjoy year-round is having the beautiful lake path. I love to run or bike the lake and watch the seasons change. Seeing the community embrace the lake and host more events near it is exciting.
I participated in the inaugural Rock ‘N’ Roll the Lakes event in 2018. One of the stops was Three Oaks Winery — a great place to meet friends and enjoy a beautiful setting. Another stop was the Boathouse, where Community Ed has equipment for us to get out and explore nature with. The Rotary Club took on the project of the dog park near there, and it’s great to see humans and their four-legged family members enjoying the space.
Summer is packed with activities, and I especially love Thursdays on Fountain — such a great event. I’m involved in organizing Wind Down Wednesday, and it’s fun to see the community enjoying all the festival has to offer. And summer isn’t complete without a trip to the fair. Being involved in 4-H, the fair was a highlight. Attending the fair as adult, I recognize the lifelong connections I’ve made and skills I have because of being in 4-H. To the kids, the parents and leaders who bring the fair to life with their projects and support, thank you.
I’ve met wonderful people by getting involved in the community. It feels great to give back to a place that molded and shaped me as I grew up and that continues to mold and shape me as an adult. I’m proud of the leaders in the community who are keeping us moving forward. We have a lot to be proud of: things like our green spaces, parks, picturesque fountains and splash pad are all big city assets, right here in Albert Lea. I hope you get out and enjoy them. Get connected and volunteer, or become a tourist in your own town — you might be surprised by what you find!
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