Image created by Dan Broten
A mural and picnic shelter could soon be coming to the city park in Henning. The project could be completed as soon as the Henning Festival.

By Chad Koenen


If you build it they will come—or at least that is the hope of local volunteers who are planning a major enhancement project at the city park.

Mike Helle and Dan Broten are leading a group of local volunteers who are planning to build a picnic shelter, as well as paint a mural on the bathrooms at the Henning City Park. The project will be completely funded by donations and provide another option for families to get outside and enjoy a nice Minnesota summer.

Photo by Chad Koenen
The plain white bathrooms at the city park in Henning could soon get a new mural on all four sides of the structure thanks to a grant that the Henning Landmark Center recently received. 

The concept of constructing a picnic shelter at the park has been discussed for quite some time. The picnic shelter project has been discussed on and off for several years, ever since the former band gazebo was taken out of the city park. 

Helle said funding for the picnic shelter has been taken out of the city budget for a couple of years in a row, and rather than continue to wait for the funding to be available, he enlisted the help of several non profit organizations to get the project moving forward. 

“I really feel like this is a good thing for our park,” he said. 

The Henning Rod and Gun Club has already donated $10,000 to the project and the Henning Haunted House group has also contributed $4,000. Several other organizations have expressed interest in making a contribution as Helle tries to raise approximately $25,000 for the project. 

The picnic shelter will be 25’x30’ and include new picnic tables in the shelter. The hope was to have the picnic shelter done by the Henning Festival, provided enough funding is available. Once the funding is in place the goal will be to have a community work day “and we will put it up as a community,” said Helle.

After a year of difficult times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Helle hopes the picnic shelter project will be something to help bring the community together for a good cause.

“We need something to look forward to,” he said. “I just said lets work on this and see if we can get it done.”

In addition to the picnic shelter, the dreary white bathrooms at the city park will also receive a new look.

Landmark Center Director Dan Broten has received a Legacy funds grant to help pay for the mural. The goal is to not only give the bathrooms a new design, but showcase some of the unique features of Henning.

One side of the mural will feature a “Welcome to Henning” postcard-like design that will encourage people to take selfie’s or a group picture in front of it. The other three sides will feature seasonal scenes like a winter or summer scene.  

“Hopefully it will beautify this building a little bit. I think it will be an iconic landmark thing where people can stop and take their picture with it.”

Dan Broten of the new mural at the city park

The mural is scheduled to be painted from June 18-19 and volunteers are being sought to help paint the large creations. 

“We hope that we can get some community help to create the mural,” said Broten. 

To help pay for new picnic tables for the shelter, and potentially other places in town, Helle is organizing an Adopt a Picnic Table program. As part of the program, organizations, groups and businesses can sponsor a picnic table for $200. The cost essentially covers the cost of the material, as well as engraving the name of the sponsoring business or group on top of the table. 

In order to help make this more of a community project, Helle has enlisted the help of Eli Hill’s shop class at the school who will be cutting the wood and the Henning Shining Lights 4-H group will help put them together. The shop class will also be engraving each of the picnic tables. 

Helle has sold 10 tables already, which will be placed at the new picnic shelter at the city park and other locations throughout town as needed. 

To purchase a new picnic table, or to make a contribution to the picnic shelter at the city park, contact Josh Rud at First National Bank at 583-2933.