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The story behind Faribault County's Jolly Green Giant statue

Finding Minnesota: The Jolly Green Giant of Faribault County
Finding Minnesota: The Jolly Green Giant of Faribault County 02:57

BLUE EARTH, Minn. -- Vacationers will get pictures with all kinds of roadside attractions this summer. And in Faribault County, one attraction has people seeing green.

In this week's Finding Minnesota, John Lauritsen shows us how a giant statue ended up in the city of Blue Earth.

June in southern Minnesota means plenty of green. That includes growing crops and a fully-grown giant.

"His smile is 48 inches so that's 4 feet. Supposedly he weighs 8,000 pounds," said Lill Robinson, Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce.

And he wears a size 78 shoe.

Jolly Green Giant was once a major canning company in Blue Earth. But the statue is in town because of radio station owner Paul Hedberg. In the 1970s, Hedberg realized that Interstate 90 construction would mean less traffic for Blue Earth.

"He got to thinking, okay we need something to bring people to town so he came up with the idea of a green, giant statue," said Robinson.

As the legend goes, in a single morning Hedberg raised close to $60,000 to build the 60-foot fiberglass statue. And for the past 43 years, the giant has cast a shadow over the town -- in a good way. It stands tall through wind, rain, sleet and snow, all while wearing just a toga.

"Santa Claus puts a Christmas hate on him in November. He's also worn an orange toga for anti-bullying and at one time he even had a bandana and a leather vest for Sturgis," said Robinson.

But on this day it was sports cars, not motorcycles, that made a pit stop.

"This is something I've done for the last 5 years," said Kevin McBride of Casper, Wyoming.

Every year the High Plains Corvette Caravan drives from Colorado and Wyoming to Wisconsin Dells. Even though they drive Corvettes they're not too cool for the Jolly Green Giant.

"The Jolly Green Giant is a major stop along the way," said McBride.

Gene and Karen Mays of Loveland, Colorado, are seeing the giant for the first time.

"It's neat. It's very cool," the Mays said. "The giant has maintained his physique pretty well over the years. He probably eats a lot of green beans."

The giant's history is told just feet from the statue -- inside a new museum.

A diorama highlights the canning plant in Blue Earth. And Green Giant memorabilia of all kinds can be found from wall to wall. Each year the collection grows like a corn stalk. All thanks to the jolly, green fellow that towers over the countryside.

"And you talk to anybody who has any family or friends coming from out of town, they always bring them out to see the giant. Because that's what you do," said Robinson.

Blue Earth holds "Giant Days" every July to celebrate the Jolly Green Giant and what it means for the city.

For more information on the statue and the museum, click here.

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