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BE Chamber considering ‘Giant’ sale to LeSueur

By Staff | Mar 31, 2008

Is this a scene that may be in the Giant’s future? The statue may have to be moved — whether it’s within Blue Earth’s City limits or to LeSueur is still being debated by city officials.

The Blue Earth Area Chamber of Commerce is considering an offer from the City of LeSueur to purchase the Jolly Green Giant statue located near Highway 169.

BE Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shelly Greimann said a recent controversy over the lease of the land the statue is located on is just one of many factors precipitating the discussion.

“It has become complicated, with the Chamber leasing the land the statue is on from the Faribault County Fair Board,” Greimann said.

That lease has expired and the City is currently attempting to renegotiate with the fair board. Blue Earth City Administrator Ben Martig said in the past the lease had not required a rental fee.

“The Fair Board has indicated that they want some money for this new lease, and that the lease figure could be a considerable amount,” Martig said. “We are talking potentially thousands of dollars here.”

Martig told council members there is no money in the city budget for such a rent and that the funding must come from the chamber.

Greimann says the Chamber would have a difficult time raising the money needed, adding the only way she believes the funds could be obtained would be by doubling the rates of the bi-annual city-wide garage sales from $15 to $30.

“It would only be a dent, but it’s a start,” says Greimann.

Because of the lack of funds, Greimann says the Chamber has been investigating another location for the statue within the city, but has had difficulty finding a suitable location.

“Land value around the freeway is quite expensive,” she added.

The city offered to relocate the statue at either the new pool or next to the recently-completed water tower.

County commissioners have also offered to place the statue on the roof of the new jail, so it could be seen from I-90 in either direction.

But these solutions are also not without concern.

“A greater problem is that it would cost as much as $100,000 to move the Green Giant,” Greimann said.

Another option the city is considering is to sell the statue to the City of LeSueur, Greimann said.

“They have made several offers in the past to buy (the statue) because their town slogan is ‘Valley of the Jolly Green Giant’,” she said. “I think they would be willing to pay as much as $50,000 for it. Then they would be responsible for the moving of the thing.”

With that said, Greimann says another question arises — what would the city of Blue Earth do with the $50,000 raised from the sale of the long-standing icon?

One Blue Earth community celebration volunteer suggested spending the funds on the final ‘Giant Days’ Celebration.

“I think having one last big blow out ‘Giant Days’ celebration this summer would be a good idea, since it will probably be the last,” added the volunteer. “Peter Noone and his pop band the Herman’s Hermits have offered to do a return performance for a flat $50,000 and that would solve the problem.” The volunteer also stated that next year the name of the traditional weekend celebration would have to change — “We could go with Little Sprout Days,” he added.

Members of the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors were shocked to hear about the plan at the board meeting this past Monday evening.

New board member Lori Nauman said it is the only logical thing to do and that it makes good financial sense to sell the statue.

“I am very disappointed about the timing though,” Nauman added. “Shelly has been brainstorming for several years on a new year’s eve extravaganza that would feature a ‘Pea Drop’ from the top of the Green Giant — similar to Time Square’s dropping of the ball at midnight.”

Other board members of the Chamber and Convention and Visitors Bureau have concerns regarding the future of the new canning factory museum. The focus of the museum, which is scheduled to open this spring, was to feature Green Giant memorabilia.

CVB board member Bruce Ankeny reluctantly stated, “We might just have to scale down the project and accept the inevitable — settling for a ‘Niblet Palace’ modeled after South Dakota’s Corn Palace.”

Greimann believes that a decision could be made about the statue by next April Fool’s Day. Meanwhile for this April Fool’s Day we hope you enjoyed this bit of foolishness. April Fool!