The photos above are images I took at the Concrete Park in Phillips, Wisconsin in Price County. The more than 200 statues in the park were all created by Fred Smith, a local farmer and tavern owner. The first time I saw the place I thought it was utterly charming, and after visiting there several times and taking hundreds of images, I still find it absolutely fascinating.
Fred was an interesting character by all accounts. He began working on the statues in 1950 when he was 65 years old, and he continued making them until he had a stroke fourteen years later.
The statues are made out of pretty much whatever he had at hand; concrete over wooden frames, bottles, broken glass, insulators, stones from the property, anything might become part of one of these whimsical statues.
The statues depict people, agricultural scenes, animals and the last piece he worked on, the Budweiser Horses pulling the wagon.
The story I heard was that the family was rather ashamed of the whole thing, and after his death they were going to bulldoze everything. But the 16 acre property was purchased by the Kohler Foundation. While restoration work was done to maintain the statues, if you look closely at some of the images you can see that many are in poor condition and deteriorating badly.
In 1995 an organization was set up whose mission is to restore and maintain the statues.
The park on the outskirts of Phillips is open to the public. The old farm house has been turned into a visitors’ center.
If you ever get up in Price County, stop in and wander around. It’s a fascinating place to visit.
Note: All images are by the author, copyright 2013 and may not be reproduced without permission