Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Nebraska Folk Art - The Oconto Sculpture Garden

What a wonderful treat we found last weekend when we detoured along Highway 40 to Oconto after our road trip from Arnold to Callaway via a county road.
Right alongside Highway 40 is the Oconto Sculpture Garden, one of the most terrific examples of folk art in Nebraska I have ever seen.
Through posting the photos on Facebook, I have learned that the artist is Charles Horn, who is in his 70's and collects scrap metal for the "zoo" he has created in the sculpture garden.
Every few months he adds a new sculpture.
We learned that later the same day we had been there, he placed a grizzly bear.
The pieces that create such a wonderful sculpture garden in Oconto are only a part of his collection. The rest are at his nearby residence near the river.
On Halloween of 2000, the Oconto community was devastated by a tornado, but the community has rebounded with a new Community Center.
There are only a few businesses in the tiny community whose population numbered 151 in the 2010 census. These include Badgley Well Service, Big Jim's Bar, Custer County Feeders, Eggleston Oil Company, Evans Feed Store, Oconto Post Office, and Rock's Backhoe & Trenching.
The community incorporated in 1906. Oconto was a "forest of 232 windmills" often called the "Windmill Town", which accounts for the tag line "The Home of the Windmills" on the sculpture garden sign.
According to the history of Oconto, the population in 1989 was 150, making it very typical of small Nebraska Sandhills towns that are pretty much stagnant.
Traditionally the first Saturday in July is when Oconto High Alumni come home and enjoy dancing, a parade, and other frivolities at their old stomping grounds.
What a wonderful addition the sculpture garden is to the community and the drive along Highway 40.
You'll see a variety of species not normally found in the Sandhills of Nebraska.





Enjoy the ride!

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