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story.lead_photo.caption Farwell's Dinosaur Park In 1967 Emmet Sullivan began work on Farwell's Dinosaur Park near Beaver Dam. It wasn't as much of a stretch for Sullivan as you might think. In 1936 he helped create Dinosaur Park in Rapid City, South Dakota. The Carroll County tourist attraction was a joint project between Sullivan and Ola and Maye Farwell, who provided land for the 60-acre park. When it opened in July 1968, it featured about a dozen dinosaurs spread along a two-mile drive, including a 24-foot high, 50-foot long brontosaurus. Over the years craftsmen added more dinosaurs, along with other critters like skunks, monkeys, mongooses, and a kangaroo. In 1979 the Farwells sold the park to Ken & June Childs who renamed it Land of Kong in the early 1980s, after the addition of a 42-foot tall fiberglass statue of King Kong. To increase Kong’s fearsomeness, he was electrified to allow for a chomping jaw and blinking red lights for eyes. The park closed in 2005. A few years later it was named one of America’s “10 Most Endangered Roadside Places.” Today the dinosaurs live out a lonely life behind their padlocked gate. (Shiloh Museum of Ozark History/Springdale News Collection)

"We often think about statues being monuments to important historical figures or events,” Marie Demeroukas begins. “But statues can be found at businesses, churches, tourist attractions, cemeteries, homes, cultural institutions, parks and town squares. Whether fine art, commercial art or folk art, many have backstories with interesting characters, differing purposes, wandering journeys and even a bit of mystery. And as we’ve seen with the recent move of the Confederate monument from the Bentonville square, statues can say something about a community, then and now.”

So it was that Demeroukas, who is archivist of more than a quarter of a million photos at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale, thought a program about statues might “be a fun way to explore local history.”

“It just popped into my head one day,” she says by way of explanation. “Northwest Arkansas has dozens of statues, many of which are hidden in plain sight.”

So Demeroukas started by listing the ones she knew about and “then canvased our research files and folks in the local history community for others. Early on, I decided to focus on three-dimensional figural statues — statues which depict people or animals, whether real or imagined — which have been in our area for at least 25 years. From there, I came up with 21 individual statues or statue groupings (such as Farwell’s Dinosaur Park) to investigate.”

The program would ordinarily have been presented as a “Sandwiched In” lunchtime event, but “as part of the museum’s ‘pandemic pivot,’ I recorded the presentation via PowerPoint, which was an eye-opening experience for me,” she says. “In order to improve sound quality, my ‘recording booth’ was a small walk-in closet at home. The clothes dampened the acoustics, and the closed door kept the cat from wandering in and meowing. One downside — I didn’t get to hear the audience laugh and respond to what I’m saying.”

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Photo by (Shiloh Museum of Ozark History/Springdale News Collection)
Farwell's Dinosaur Park In 1967 Emmet Sullivan began work on Farwell's Dinosaur Park near Beaver Dam. It wasn't as much of a stretch for Sullivan as you might think. In 1936 he helped create Dinosaur Park in Rapid City, South Dakota. The Carroll County tourist attraction was a joint project between Sullivan and Ola and Maye Farwell, who provided land for the 60-acre park. When it opened in July 1968, it featured about a dozen dinosaurs spread along a two-mile drive, including a 24-foot high, 50-foot long brontosaurus. Over the years craftsmen added more dinosaurs, along with other critters like skunks, monkeys, mongooses, and a kangaroo. In 1979 the Farwells sold the park to Ken & June Childs who renamed it Land of Kong in the early 1980s, after the addition of a 42-foot tall fiberglass statue of King Kong. To increase Kong’s fearsomeness, he was electrified to allow for a chomping jaw and blinking red lights for eyes. The park closed in 2005. A few years later it was named one of America’s “10 Most Endangered Roadside Places.” Today the dinosaurs live out a lonely life behind their padlocked gate. (Shiloh Museum of Ozark History/Springdale News Collection)

Sandwiched In: ‘Monumental, Mythological, Memorial, Monstrous, and Merry: Figural Statues of Northwest Arkansas’

WHEN — Noon Nov. 18

WHERE — Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale via YouTube

COST — Free

INFO — shilohmuseum.org or 750-8165

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