My brother Mark once suggested that a useful exercise for us anti-government types is to compile a top ten list of Things We Love About the U.S. of A. His list included things like free public libraries, the world’s first National Park System, the Bill of Rights and the Freedom of Information Act. Actually, it was such a good list, I couldn’t see how to improve it, so I never did follow his advice.
But in any case, I am sick to death of the America of grand gestures and grand self-delusions. Who, after hearing Governor Bush bray about how They Hate Our Freedoms, can ever again view the export of our political ideals with less than a jaundiced eye? What I want to do here instead, through this occasional feature, is to highlight much smaller things, publishing links to articles or sites that somehow inspire me with affection for my native land.
What could be more all-American than the World’s Largest Pile of Empty Feed Sacks? Actually, that was a Garrison Keillor invention – an ingenious parody, I thought.
The World’s Largest Collection of World’s Smallest Versions of World’s Largest Things, however, is for real.
This one of a kind roadside attraction and museum travels all over the country, stopping at World’s Largest Things, community cultural centers, roadside attractions, colleges, universities, art events, and museums. Originally a public transportation vehicle for the elderly of Anderson County Kansas, the bus has been transformed into a traveling museum by artist Erika Nelson. This customized bus contains display space for its unique collection of miniature replicas of things such as badgers, otters, bulls, balls of twine, and baseball bats billed as World’s Largest.
But wait, there’s more! Much, much more about very small reproductions of very large versions of ordinary-sized things – and other wonderfully campy roadside attractions from America the Beautiful:
This one of a kind collection is displayed (when parked) through the passenger side windows, while the interior front space is open to visitors. Inside are additional displays of Roadside Attraction mineatures (such as Carhenge), photos and meta-photos of World’s Largest Things, a library of research materials and documentation of sites, and gift shop. When traveling down the road, the curtains act as a carnival-esque tease like an old-time sideshow, complete with theme song and barker broadcast (written and performed by Big One Man Band – a rockabilly group of one, who plays everything you hear simultaneously!) on a 103.1 FM frequency so cars around can tune in their radio and learn more about it.
Don’t these sound like people you’d want to party with? Hell, they bring the party with them – all you’d have to provide would be the drinks and eats, I’m guessing. Just this past week, says the website,
Winlock Washington convinces the Traveling Roadside Attraction to extend its planned 1/2 hour stay in to a week long extravaganza of egg-citing egg-tertainment, leading up to Egg Days June 25, 26, 27 2004!
One gets the impression that they may be having entirely too much fun. The website has a kind of haphazard look, as if it only gets updated when the one-man rockabilly band needs a break from performing for the World’s Smallest Traveling Radio Station.
One handy feature they have uploaded, however, is a list of the World’s Largest Things in the United States. The number of entries for Minnesota is indeed impressive, including an outsized doorknob, a couple monstrous ears of corn, numerous gargantuan fish, and the world’s largest ball of twine. But alas, no artificial, mystic energy-channeling, roadside mountain of feed sacks – yet.