My wife and I are on a mission to visit all the oversized local landmarks throughout Minnesota. This blog chronicles those visits and covers other related topics.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Giant Gopher and the Minnesota State Fair

August 28th, 2007 - St. Paul, MN


The Minnesota State Fair celebrates everything Minnesotans love including cheese curds,

Cheese Curds

food on a stick,

Hotdish On A Stick B&W

and big stuff. The mascots of the state fair are Fairchild and Fairweather, who are gophers (it is the Gopher State afterall). A giant Fairchild stands on top of an information booth on the fairgrounds. While we were at the fair, we happened to catch a parade. And what a parade it was! It had mascots, cute kids, a guy on this wheel contraption, and big stuff....on wheels!



Kids on Parade

Wacky Wheeler

Big Bull on Wheels

Big Holstein on Wheels

Big Bull on Wheels

On our way out we saw a giant frog made from trash. I didn't really read any of the stuff around it, but the message here is obvious. Recycle. Or face a future of giant mutant frogs roaming the Earth and destroying everything in their paths.

Recycle Frog

You can see all of my Minnesota State Fair pics here.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Canadian Goose

July 5th, 2007 - Fergus Falls, MN

Canadian Goose

We stopped in Fergus Falls again on our way home. The last time was for the otter, this time it's for the goose. The goose is at the corner of Lincoln Ave and College Way next to the Ottertail County Historical Society. I don't really know anything about the goose. It's definitely more of an artsy type big stuff and not a historical or civic type big stuff. Perhaps it was built out of great foresight to the coming age of the goose. Afterall, they are acquiring numbers and can be very aggressive. The west side of Fergus Falls will be treated well by our goose overlords while the east side will suffer for their otter worship. Regardless of why it was built, it is pretty cool.

Tip: Stock up on ammunition and goose statuettes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

World's Largest Prairie Chicken

July 5th, 2007 - Rothsay, MN

World's Largest Prairie Chicken

We simply didn't get enough big stuff on the 4th. We stayed at my parents' place the night of the 4th and headed back to the Twin Cities on the 5th. We took a little detour, through a lake actually (County 24 was just a little bit under water east of Rothsay), to get to the prairie chicken.

In 1975, Rothsay named itself the Prairie Chicken Capital of Minnesota and the prairie chicken statue was built in 1976. The terrain around Rothsay is lots of flat prairie and farm fields, a great environment for the prairie chicken. It was built out of cement by Art Fosse and Dale Western and it depicts the bird's unique mating ritual, called booming. The prairie chicken is 13 feet tall and 18 feet from tip to tail. There are displays around the prairie chicken where you can learn more about these birds.

Prairie Chicken Capital

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Giant Adirondack Chair

October 20, 2007 - St. Paul, MN

Giant Green Adirondack Chair

It's another new one!

The chair was built in 2002, but it is not the original chair. The first giant green adirondack chair fell victim to weather due to untreated materials. It was built in 1995 as a way to produce publicity for the Green Chair Project.

The Green Chair Project began in 1991 by Joel Sisson and Chris Hand after two lawn chairs were stolen from their backyard. With the help of kids from this rough neighborhood, they built 90 green adirondack chairs that they gave to everyone in the neighborhood.

You can find out more about the Green Chair Project at these links:

This may be the world's largest adirondack chair, but I don't know for sure. There is also a giant green adirondack chair from the Green Chair Project in Washington D.C.

Thanks to Mykl Roventine for helping me find the chair and to Agilitynut for the information on the Green Chair Project.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Chief Wenonga

July 4th, 2007 - Battle Lake, MN

Chief "The Vulture" Wenonga

We headed north from Ashby to Battle Lake to see Chief "The Vulture" Wenonga. In 1795, Wenonga led some 50 Ojibwe warriors into battle with the Dakota near here. They were victorious, but only a few Ojibwe survived, including Wenonga. All of the Dakota were killed. Native Americans named the lake Ish-quan-a-de-win-ing, which roughly translates to "Where but few survived." Settlers eventually renamed it Battle Lake.

The giant fiberglass Wenonga is 23 feet tall, was built in 1979, and stands on the western shore of Battle Lake. The town of Battle Lake celebrates Wenonga Days each July.

On our way out of town we stopped at the Dairy Queen for ice cream cones. I highly recommend it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

World's Largest Coot

July 4th, 2007 - Ashby, MN

World's Largest Coot

Celebrate your nation's independence by visiting big stuff.

It's another 4th of July and we find ourselves at big stuff once again. Last year we stopped at the World's Largest Otter on our way to my aunt's place, but this year we took a different route. This one brings us right through Ashby and right past the World's Largest Coot.

If you are wondering what a coot is exactly, it's a kind of duck that is commonly referred to as a mud hen. They are also commonly shot at. By hunters. With guns. Which is the reason this guy is there in the first place. The coot stands at the Ashby Trap Range, perhaps for some inspiration. He was built in 1991 by Steve Morgan for the Ashby Coot Feed and stands 10 feet tall. He was made out of concrete, which may be good for a trap range but it made his wings too heavy and they needed to be braced. This may not make the coot the nicest looking big stuff, but it still has some very good detail to it despite it's design flaw.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bongards Cow

June 3rd, 2007 - Bongards, MN

Big Cow

About 12 miles west of the outermost Minneapolis suburbs on Highway 212 is the tiny town of Bongards. The town basically consists of Bongards' Creameries, a church, a house or two, and a giant holstein cow. The cow is directly across the street from the cheese store, as if you couldn't find it anyway.

There seems to be a number of cows exactly like this one scattered across Wisconsin, but this is the only one in Minnesota. The world's largest is Salem Sue in New Salem, ND.

Big Cow

Tip: Go sometime when the cheese store is open. We were there on a Sunday evening and it was closed. I'm willing to bet that they have tasty cheese.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Big Ear of Corn

June 3rd, 2007 - Olivia, MN

Ear of Corn

Travelling back from Marshall, MN to the Twin Cities (from a cousin's graduation party), we pass through Olivia and right by a giant ear of corn affixed atop a gazebo. The ear is 25 feet tall and made of fiberglass. The city of Olivia put up the ear in 1973 to help stake it's claim as "The Corn Capital". The capital of what exactly, I don't know.

Corn Capital

Olivia Newton John showed up to dedicate the ear of corn and asked only for "fresh bread and two dozen ears of corn" for her trouble.

Rumor has it that the ear of corn hides a Minuteman Missile, since it made it's appearance during the Cold War. Considering the tremendous fire power hidden within North and South Dakota, I don't believe it was necessary to hide a missile in a fiberglass ear of corn on top of a roadside gazebo in Olivia, MN. It's just a hunch. Call me crazy.

Tip: Don't get too close to the ear of corn. It may go off.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Chief Kandiyohi

October 13th, 2007

Chief Kandiyohi

I'm interrupting our trip back in time to blog about a new addition to the collection, Chief Kandiyohi. We were in Willmar this weekend for a wedding. There was a little bit of time to kill between the ceremony and the reception, so we headed over to visit the big golden Indian.

Chief Kandiyohi is 17 feet tall and stands in front of the public library on top of a 7 foot tall cement pedestal. This Indian image was born in 1915 when it appeared as the Kandiyohi County Bank symbol. In that same year, the bank commissioned Eben E. Lawson to create "Kandiyohi", a smaller sculpture that was the basis for the larger one.

In 1929, Chief Kandiyohi found a home with the Bank of Willmar after several bank mergers. In 1956, Bank of Willmar President Norman Tallakson contracted to have the large sculpture built. The new statue was mounted on the bank and stood there for 27 years. The statue was donated to the City of Willmar and Kandiyohi County in 1983 by First American Bank and Trust of Willmar and was moved to it's current site on July 25th of that year.

There was no real Chief Kandiyohi. Kandiyohi is a Dakota word meaning "where the buffalo fish come."

This is the second pantsless man we have seen on our tour.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Big Chicken

May 13th, 2007 - Delano, MN

Delano chicken1

Further east on Highway 12 from Darwin we come across this large chicken. He stands next to a gas station and overlooks the highway. He is 13 feet tall and is goofy looking. I don't know if it's his ugly looking feet, the fact that he carries himself like a human, or that creepy guy who wears nothing but a trench coat and exposes himself pose, but this guy is so odd you have to love it.

For a history of the chicken, go to this page from the Delano Herald Journal.

Here's another shot from his good side.

Delano chicken2

Thursday, October 11, 2007

World's Largest Ball of Twine by 1 Man

May 13th, 2007 - Darwin, MN


On our way home from Willmar, we decided to take Highway 12 so we could stop in Darwin for the twine ball. Francis A. Johnson built the twine ball, by himself, 4 hours a day for 29 years from 1950 to 1979. In 1979, the Guinness Book of World Records honored Johnson by giving his work the title of World's Largest Ball of Twine. The Guinness Book withdrew that title in 1994 when another twine ball surpassed Johnson's. Johnson's twine ball weighs 17,400 pounds, is 12 feet in diameter, and approximately 40 feet in circumference.

Francis Johnson died in 1989, partly from emphysema cause by the chemicals used to treat the twine. Love is a cruel mistress. Believe it or not, Ripley's tried to buy the twine ball after Johnson's death but they were unsuccessful. The city of Darwin moved the ball from Johnson's farm to a plexiglass-walled gazebo in the center of town. Every August, on the second Saturday of the month, Darwin celebrates Twine Ball Day.


There are two balls that are larger than the Darwin twine ball and a third up-and-comer.

The one that currently holds the record for gigantism is the ball of twine in Cawker City, KS. It was started in 1953 by Frank Stoeber and reached a diameter of 11 feet in 1961 when he turned it over to the city. Stroeber passed away in 1974. To honor Stoeber, the city took on the ball as a city project and holds a Twine-a-Thon every year so the ball keeps growing.

The other ball that is larger is owned by Ripley's Believe It or Not! and is made out of lightweight plastic string and was also a team effort. It's on display in Branson, MO.

There is one twine ball in Wisconsin that is a legitimate contender. It's the work of James Frank Kotera. Kotera tightly ties his twine making his twine ball much heavier than the rest. JFK's twine ball weighs an estimated 19,336 pounds.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

World's Largest Crow

May 12th, 2007 - Belgrade, MN

World's Largest Crow

The wife and I headed back to our alma mater, the University of Minnesota - Morris, for her sister's graduation. It was an outdoor ceremony and it was hot, really hot, and the wind just couldn't find it's way through the buildings and trees for any relief. The last time we were at a graduation that hot was our own 3 years earlier, but that time it was hotter and we were dressed in black from head to toe.

After plenty of time baking and not really listening to a lot of speeches because I was too busy overheating, we took some pictures and headed to Brooten for dinner. Brooten is a town of about 600 people that inexplicably has fine dining and is the home of X-Bats. More importantly, Brooten is only about 7 miles from Belgrade and the World's Largest Crow.

After dinner we stopped at the crow on our way to her family's house in Willmar. The crow is perched on top of a 31 foot long branch, which is on top of a 25 foot tall cement pedestal. The total height is 43 feet. The crow is surrounded by a semi-circle wall made from 6,000 individually purchased bricks as well as flags from all 50 states and several European nations. The crow is located close to Crow Lake and near the Crow River.

Memorial Wall
The bricks of the wall surrounding the World's Largest Crow.

The details of this crow are incredible, but hard to capture on camera because of the height and it's very black paint and, in my case, the late evening light. Below is a picture that shows some of the detail.

World's Largest Crow

Monday, October 8, 2007

World's Largest Loon

November 24th, 2006 - Vergas, MN

World's Largest Loon

We leave Big Tom and head south a few miles to Vergas to visit the World's Largest Loon. This majestic looking bird sits in a small roadside park and overlooks Long Lake. It really is very well made.

The loon is 20 feet tall and was built out of concrete in 1963 by Robert Bruns. Bruns has also built the World's Largest Otter in Fergus Falls and the World's Largest Mallard in Wheaton, MN. The loon was built in honor of Vergas's former postmaster Ewald C. Krueger.

The common loon is also the state bird of Minnesota.

Friday, October 5, 2007

World's Largest Turkey

November 24th, 2006 - Frazee, MN

Big Tom

That's right, it's the day after Thanksgiving and we are at the World's Largest Turkey, Big Tom. We were back up to my neck of the woods for the holiday and we took the opportunity to go to another nearby town to see another giant bird. What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than to visit a gigantic turkey? Well, eating turkey I suppose.....and stuffing and potatoes and lefse (I'm Norwegian).

Cooking a turkey isn't an easy thing to do. Butterball knows this. That's why they setup the turkey hotline. And I bet if you call the turkey hotline, they would advise against using a blowtorch as a cooking method to prepare your bird. It's just too bad that a couple of maintenance workers in Frazee didn't give Butterball a call.

On July 1, 1998 a pair of maintenance workers were working on removing Big Tom to make room for his replacement (Tom was slated for replacement due to frequent repairs) and accidentally hit his insulation with a blowtorch and within seconds their goose was cooked, or turkey I guess.

After the fire, a small egg statue was placed where the new Big Tom would stand and for the first time in 12 years, the Turkey Capital of the World had to celebrate their Turkey Days festival without Big Tom. The new Big Tom is even bigger and Tommier than the original. He now stands at 22 feet tall and weighs over 5000 pounds.

City of Frazee's World's Largest Turkey page

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

October 20th, 2006 - Minneapolis, MN


Our final destination on my day off is the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Museum in downtown Minneapolis. It's the nation's largest urban sculpture garden and there's a lot of good stuff to see. The centerpiece, and most famous piece, is the Spoonbridge and Cherry by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.


There's art with movable parts that you can play on.


There's even a giant glass fish inside the conservatory.


So take a couple hours and wander through the garden. It will be worth it. Watch where you step, though. There are a lot of geese and they tend to make a mess.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

World's Largest Polar Bear

October 20th, 2006 - White Bear Lake, MN

World's Largest Polar Bear

From North St. Paul we head north to White Bear Lake and the World's Largest Polar Bear. The polar bear was built out of fiberglass in 1964 by Gordon Shumaker for a local car dealership. In 1989, Polar Chevrolet opened it's new dealership and mounted the bear on top of it's new building.

The polar bear has sustained a long, and apparently successful, 43-year career in marketing. He's still selling cars and still kind of smiling about it.

White Bear Lake was named after a local Native American legend about a white ghost bear living on an island in a nearby lake.

Tip: It is on a car dealership so if you show up on their lot while they are open, a dealer will find you. If you don't want to be hassled by a salesman, then you may want to either show up after hours or try to take a shot from the other side of the road to the south. You may need a little bit of a zoom lens for that, however. Although, the salesman will tell you about the bear if you tell them that you are there for the bear and not the cars.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

World's Largest Snowman

October 20, 2006 - North St. Paul

World's Largest Snowman

I took the day off from work and the wife and I spent the day driving around the Twin Cities looking for a big stuff or three. We started by going to North St. Paul and tracking down the World's Largest Snowman.

The snowman was built in 1974 out of concrete stucco and is 54 feet tall. According to a tipster at, the North St. Paul Jaycees used to build a snowman each year at the same intersection for it's Sno-Daze celebration. After a couple of winters with some lean snowfalls, they decided to build this one of cement. Take that, Mother Nature!

The snowman was somewhat recently repainted to appear as if he was wearing a Bret Hedican jersey. He used to have a much more traditional paint job. Hedican was born in St. Paul and went to high school in North St. Paul. He went on to play in the NHL and last year won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.