Monday, July 11, 2011

Always Looking for the Next Big Thing

My family gathered up in our mini-van and visited Minnesota recently so my wife could see her family. It was a memory-making trip for my kids.

We saw my mother-in-law, but we also saw a bunch of these "big things," odd tourist attractions that dot the countryside in Minnesota.

I live in a town where a building-sized basket is the most recognizable feature of the City.  So, I'm not making fun.  I am curious, though, how this "big thing" phenomenon got going in Minnesota.

We saw "Big Ole" in Alexandria.  Big Ole (I pronounce it "OLL" but I'm told I should prononce it "OLL-E") is a 28 foot tall fiberglass viking statue near the Runestone Museum.  The story that goes with Big Ole is that Vikings came to America in 1362 and left a carved stone as their evidence they were here, 130 years before Christopher Columbus.  Believe the story or not, the football team, the Minnesota Vikings, owes its nickname to these same Vikings.

We also saw the statue in Menagha of mythical St. Urho (pronounced "OORHO") piercing a giant grasshopper.  It looks like a wood carving, but, as it turns out, this one is a fiberglass replica of a wood one that actually exists. 

We drove to dinner one night and went through Nevis, where the World's Largest Tiger Muskie is under roof.  I had Walleye for dinner though.

Paul Bunyan is a common theme.  Akeley has one where you can pose sitting in his hand.  A detour kept me from seeing him except at a distance.

Though not on this trip, we've been to Bemidji where a 1937 version of Paul Bunyan and Babe, his blue ox, sit.  This photo is from the cover of a coloring book my kids picked up.

Of course, my wife is among many Minnesotians who remember visiting a Paul Bunyan that talks in Brainerd.  He even said my wife's name once.

Of course, Minnesota isn't alone in the "big thing" phenomenon.  We found this orange moose in Black River Falls, WI and stopped to pose.  We could have also posed at the big moose's behind and the big mouse, both located at a Best Western and Perkins Restaurant stop over.

So, how does this "big thing" thing get going?  I suspect some Chamber of Commerce exec decided that one city's fiberglass statue was a tourist attraction worth mimicing.  And so on and so on.

I guess everyone's always been looking for the next big thing.

1 comment:

  1. I think fiberglass sculpture looks more beautiful when it is bigger in size. I have seen the pictures of 30 or 40 foot tall statues and they seem to be more beautiful than the one with shorter heights.