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Statues stand tall through drought, flooding

By Jason Offutt

Author’s note: This is the third of four parts about what I did on my summer research trip to Canada. Why am I going through three states and two countries in about 2,000 words? The book’s going to cover a bit more. Trust me.

Ranking my likes and dislikes from best to worst, I’d put bacon and looking at pictures of Jessica Alba near the top, hemorrhoid discomfort and driving a car farther than 20 miles near the bottom.
Maybe it was all those trips to Colorado through Kansas as a kid that caused horizon-to-horizon fields of seed crops to lose some of their luster. Maybe it was because I can only take so many hours of the same cookie-cutter radio talk shows. Or maybe it was the fact that too much sitting makes my fanny hurt, but I hate to drive.
I thought about this a few hundred miles into my trip as I stood at the hooves of a 30-foot-tall, 45-ton Hereford bull statue named Albert. Just why was I taking a 679.17-mile trip to Canada if I hated to drive? To see things like Albert.
I was discovering on my trip that people in the Midwest like to make big statues of silly things. Like Albert, for example.
Albert is a big part of Audubon, Iowa, which is named after John James Audubon – the bird guy. It’s the largest statue of its kind in the world and is named after banker Albert Kruse, who promoted cattle production in Iowa in the mid-1900s. Great.
Let’s look at the economics of this big bull (and bull it is. This statue is as anatomically correct as you can get without public protest and potential prosecution). It took $30,000 to build Albert in 1963. You know what else cost $30,000 to build in 1963? A house.
My question, as I stood in this town of 2,100 people, was why? Why build a gigantic statue of a bull when you’ve got this whole Audubon thing working for you? Then there’s C.W. McCall who was born in Audubon. Yes, C.W. McCall who wrote and performed the 1976 song “Convoy” which hit No. 1 on the charts and became a 1978 movie starring Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw, and Ernest Borgnine.
Come on, people. Get your priorities straight.
As I drove through Iowa and Minnesota, farm fields and increasingly picturesque lakes and pine trees spreading over the landscape, I found Audubon wasn’t alone – big, honkin’ statues are everywhere.
Audubon, Iowa: Albert the Bull.
Olivia, Minnesota: The world’s largest ear of corn – 25 feet tall. Well, Olivia is the corn capital of the world, after all. Yes, officially. I’m serious. The Minnesota state government voted on it.
Belgrade, Minnesota: An 18-foot-tall crow.
Bemidji, Minnesota: An 18-foot-tall Paul Bunyan and just slightly smaller Babe the Big Blue Ox.
International Falls: A 26-foot-tall Smokey the Bear. Normally people have to worry about being mauled by bears. I wasn’t worried about that at all. This Smokey is 19 feet taller than Shaq and carried a shovel. Being mauled was the least of my worries.
Yes, throughout northern Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota, I found nice people, great scenery, a lot of amazing history, and realized no matter where you point your car, there’s always something new to find – like really big statues. They kind of freaked me out.
Next week: Finally, I’m in Canada.

Jason’s latest book, “Paranormal Missouri: Show Me Your Monsters,” is available at amazon.com.

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