Why I love Albert Lea

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Why I love Albert Lea by Angie Kolker


When I think of why I love Albert Lea, the first thing that comes to my mind is, of course, my family. I grew up here. My parents, Hugh and Karen O’Byrne, are also from Albert Lea and the surrounding area.  My sister, Chris Vogt, her husband, Steve, and all my nieces and nephews are here, except for one, who is in Wisconsin. Our children, Jacob and Sydney, were both born here and are currently enrolled in school in Albert Lea. My husband, Dan, isn’t originally from here but has now made this community his home. Dan’s mom, Camilla Kolker-Sparks, has also made Albert Lea her home for many years now. Together, we have made some very good — actually not good, great — friends along the way. We have both become very active in the community through our work, other agencies, our kids’ schools and also their sporting activities. 

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One thing that stands out to me with this community is the concern for others, not only the people but also the organizations and businesses that have decided to make this their community also. There seems to always be a helping hand, someone willing to help in some way when the need is there. There are so many people who work tirelessly on making this community eventful and enjoyable, giving everyone from all ages things to do. The annual events from Eddie Cochran weekend to the Freeborn County Fair and fall and winter festivities really show how much the community works to make Albert Lea a place for all to enjoy.

Another reason why I Love Albert Lea is the amount of things to do here! I often get frustrated when others say there isn’t anything to do because we certainly don’t have any problems finding things to do!  This isn’t just in the summer when walking the lake is an almost daily occurrence — this is year-round.  Both of our children play hockey. We have found so many wonderful people and made so many great friends through the hockey association! Both of our kids have also met some really great kids that we are hoping they continue to be friends with for many, many years. Our daughter also plays soccer. Our soccer family is also a big part of our lives! So many wonderful people!

Obviously, our lives do revolve around our kids, as most parents’ lives do, but when we do get a chance, Dan and I like to spend some time together. That could mean golfing, walking the lake, a movie, visiting a local establishment with friends and family, or possibly staying home. There are plenty of options to choose from — you just have to look.

With the revitalization of our downtown, there are so many great boutiques and places to shop. This has been a fun outing for my friends and I, and we have created some fun memories with our shopping!

When you take into account all of the above, along with things that I may have forgotten, those are the reasons why I Love Albert Lea. My family and I call Albert Lea home, and we love it here.


Angie Kolker is the director of finance at Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services, where she has worked for over 13 years. She has lived in Albert Lea most of her life. She is married to Dan Kolker, who is an attorney at Peterson, Kolker, Haedt & Benda, Ltd., where he has worked for 17 years. They have two children Jacob, 12, and Sydney, 11.