New Enchanted Highway piece in the works
REGENT, N.D. -- A new edition to the Enchanted Highway is in the works. However, it won’t be a giant spider web like many who donated to a Kickstarter campaign expected last year.
Gary Greff, the creator of the Enchanted Highway, is working on a knight and dragon sculpture that will be placed in front of the Enchanted Castle in Regent. It'd be the first sculpture of the tourist attraction to actually be in the town.
“I thought that sort of fits the castle theme and also kids love knights and dragons,” Greff said. “I just thought that’s a great sculpture for probably at the end of the Enchanted Highway.”
Greff had originally planned to construct a 70-by-70-foot spider web when he started a Kickstarter online fundraising campaign with the help of Jackson Ridl, an intern for Emerging Prairie in Fargo. The campaign had 411 people who donated money to the Enchanted Highway and raised more than $20,700 in just over a month.
But the spider web project hit a roadblock not too long after when Greff said he couldn’t find a piece of land for the web to be placed between the deer and the grasshopper.
“I’m sort of at the mercy of the landowners,” Greff said. “I don’t want their best land. Just give me a piece of land and I can fill it in if it’s a low piece, if it’s a hill or whatever. I just need it near the highway though.”
Enchanted Castle restaurant manager Bill Anderson said it can be a bit frustrating to find locations for the sculptures.
“It’s become increasingly hard to find places where you can put these sculptures and it (the knight and dragon sculpture) will help our traffic as well,” he said.
Kickstarter encouraged Greff to find a way to still use the money that he was given for the spider web. He said the backers just wanted to see something get built. So, he decided to construct the knight and dragon.
“If you do nothing, they’re going to say, ‘What did we give the money for? I mean we gave it for nothing and it’s still waiting,’” Greff said.
The knight will stand at 35-feet tall, while holding a sword, and the dragon will be about 40-feet tall. Greff said he hopes to have the knight set by the end of the fall, but it ultimately depends on how much material he can get and what sort of help he can get to put the whole thing together.
Greff said the money he received from the Kickstarter campaign won’t be enough to cover the entire project, but he said it will give them a nice start.
Greff hopes the knight and dragon sculpture will stand out from the others because he hopes to add a sound system for the knight to be able to say something. Possibly something to the effect of “I’m the knight of the Enchanted Castle, here to protect the castle from the dragon.” He also wants the dragon to be able to breathe fire once an hour and have its eyes light up.
“I think it’ll be a reason for people to stop and see,” he said. “... That might give people a reason to stay and be up here longer.”
Anderson believes the knight and dragon will really add to the castle theme and he is looking forward to seeing the finished project.
“I think that’s really a nice tie in for our castle and I think it’ll be a great addition to the sculptures that he has right now,” Anderson said.Looking for legislative help
Greff has been working on the Enchanted Highway for more than 28 years and has self-funded a majority of it, including the upkeep that comes along with maintaining all of the sculptures. He said the money from a gift shop on Regent’s Main Street hasn’t been able to raise enough funds to cover many of the costs maintaining all of the Enchanted Highway sculptures.
Greff said he isn’t sure how much longer he can continue to do the project and is worried that he may have to tear down pieces just to save himself money in the long run. He said he plans to go to the state Legislature in January to see if lawmakers would be willing to find ways to help the project’s longevity.
“I know the oil is not good right now, but in the same token if they think I can make it on my own, I can’t make it on my own right now,” Greff said. “It’s going to have to be either a state project to help me out, or else I’m going to have to -- all I can think of is I’ll have to cut some of them down to keep it within my budget.”
Greff said he has talked with many state agencies, including the North Dakota Department of Tourism and the state Department of Commerce. He said it’s all just a matter if any department says it would be willing to pick the project up.
“It’s not state-run,” he said. “It’s Gary Greff-run and I don’t have enough to make it happen anymore. It’s gotten bigger than what I anticipated being.”