Mike Binkley knows a thing or two about roadside attractions. It’s his job, after all, to find the best of Minnesota for his bi-monthly “Finding Minnesota” reports. Check out a few of his favorite attractions below.
Lou T. Fisk
Madison, MN 56256
While others might recoil at the sight of a lutefisk dinner, the Scandinavian town of Madison is quite proud to call itself “Lutefisk Capital USA.” As a symbol of that pride, Lou T. Fisk, the 25-foot fiberglass cod stands tall in J.F. Jacobson Park.
North end of Broadway Street
Alexandria, MN 56308
Along the shore of Lake Agnes stands what may be the worldʼs
largest Viking. Big Ole is a 28-foot symbol of Nordic pride in this area. His shield reads “Birthplace of America,” a nod to those who believe the Vikings were actually the first non-natives to reach America.
456 U.S. Highway 2
Bena, MN 56626
Down the road from Lake Winnibigoshish, one of the top fishing lakes in Minnesota, is a 65-foot muskie. It appeared in the opening credits of National Lampoonʼs 1983 movie, “Vacation.” Newly-restored in 2010, it sits next to the Big Fish Supper Club.
World’s Largest Stucco Snowman
Highway 36 and Margaret Street
North St. Paul, MN 55109
Whether it’s 10 below zero or 90 and humid, the city of North St. Paul always has a friendly snowman to greet visitors. He has been around since the early 1970s, when the city’s annual Sno-Daze celebration was hampered by a few winters with little snow.
6001 East Front St.
Vining, MN 56588
Throughout the small town of Vining are giant statues of animals, humans and a few unexplainable combinations, such as a cockroach climbing on a huge pair of pliers. They all come from the imagination — and the metal shop — of Ken Nyberg, the father of astronaut Karen Nyberg.
Hermann The German
10 Monument St.
New Ulm, MN 56073
Overlooking the German city of New Ulm, sword held high, is a 32-foot statue of Hermann, a conquering war hero from German folklore. It is the third largest copperclad statue in the country (the Statue of Liberty is the largest). German settlers who faced anti-immigration persecution in the late 1800s commissioned the statue as a unifying symbol.
Otto The Big Otter
South Burlington Avenue
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
Built by high school students in 1972, Otto has become part of the childhood experience for generations of kids in Fergus Falls. He is 40 feet long and overlooks Grotto Lake in Adams Park. Tom Willett’s machine shop class took on the project as a centennial gift to the city, but when things started going awry, a local metal artist, Steve Jaenisch, helped get it back on course. They were profiled by WCCO in June of 2011.
Big Leaping Deer
Along Highway 6
Deerwood, MN 56444
Located in the Cuyuna mining region, Deerwood is a small town with a very big deer as its mascot. We’re told the big guy gets outfitted in blaze orange during hunting season, and a red nose before Christmas.
Babe the Blue Ox & Talking Paul Bunyan
Paul Bunyan Land
17553 State Highway 18
Brainerd, MN 56401
Those who haven’t seen Babe in awhile will notice how much “beefier” he looks since a recent makeover. Babe can be found in the parking lot of Paul Bunyan Land. It’s free to wander up and have your picture taken. But those who want to chat with his master, Paul, will have to pay admission. Incidentally, many people are apparently under the impression that Talking Paul is gone forever. Not true. He’s just moved a little bit farther east of Brainerd. He still has the uncanny ability to recite the names of the children who have registered at the front desk.
World’s Largest Corn Cob Statue
Highway 212 –- west end of town
Olivia, MN 56277
As the official “corn capital of the world” as designated by the Minnesota legislature, Olivia takes its crop seriously. But as evidenced by the 25-foot fiberglass corn cob in Memorial Park and the annual Corn Capital Days Festival at the end of the July, the town has fun with it too. We featured the festival on Finding Minnesota.
— Mike Binkley has spent more than two decades covering news in the Twin Cities. Catch his bimonthly stories exploring the highlights of the state in Finding Minnesota.