Lake Country Journal

April/May 2016

Lake Country Journal is more than a regional, bimonthly magazine in the Brainerd lakes area. It’s a celebration of all things Up North. We celebrate our culture, rich in history and diversity.

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Page 19 of 75

18 | A P R I L / M A Y 2 0 1 6 ~ our towns ~ W R I T T E N B Y J I M M A N S | P H O T O G R A P H E D B Y N E L S N O R Q U I S T VINING HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A 900-POUND CLOTHESPIN? How about a 120-pound, eight-foot tall blue heron or a 2,000-pound doorknob? Maybe a three thousand-pound, eleven-foot tall bear? You can see all of the above and then some if you take a drive over to Vining, Minnesota, someday. Vining is in Otter Tail County. It's right on Highway 210 near Henning, Clitherall, and Battle Lake. The Sons of Norway meet at the community center. Vining is the home of sculptor Ken Nyberg. Right next to the Big Foot Gas, Grocery, and Deli is Nyberg Park. The park is a showcase for Nyberg's metal sculptures. You can check out a dozen of his pieces in the park. Other samples of his work are scattered around town. He also has a three- foot-tall ear in Pelican Rapids, a bear in Byron, a bull at Toro lawnmower headquarters in Bloomington, and a panther at Parkers Prairie. Check out the ten-foot, 1,329-pound otter in Ottertail. Some people describe his pieces as whimsical. Nyberg doesn't care much what you call them, he just likes building them. Nyberg works out of his shop a few miles north of town. You can tell his shop by the life-sized rhino and giraffe standing outside. He spent most of his life building grain elevators and feed mills. He's a self-taught welder and started creating his sculptures in the 1983. His first piece was a tree. "It was just a dumb-lookin' thing," he says. Then someone suggested the tree needed a dog. The dog can now be seen on Front Street in town, next to the fire hydrant. The tree is by the shop. Nyberg uses pieces of scrap metal for his work. He also uses a lot of old lawnmower blades that people save for him. They get dropped off at his shop and sometimes he will make the rounds to pick them up. To make his 2,500-pound elephant he used 988 blades. The bear took 1,207 blades. The Toro Company supplied all the blades for their bull. "I've always liked doing things that are different," he says. "I wouldn't have made it standing in an assembly line making the same stuff all the time." After making the tree, Nyberg was hooked. He wanted to build something a little bigger. He turned his storage shed into a shop. His next project was the famous foot. The inspiration for the foot was a piece of whittling he had done a few years earlier. "I just sat down to whittle one day and that's what I came up with," he says. The foot is on the west side of town on Highway 210. It's eleven-feet tall and weighs continued on page 20

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