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Business Improvement Committee makes it happen …

By Staff | Jul 16, 2018

Sprout artists and BIC committee members pose for a photo with the Sprout in Giant Park. In front, kneeling, left to right, are Lissia Laehn and Becki Steier; middle row are Shelly Greimann (with granddaughter), Sonja Anderson, Rachel Roverud and Barb Pearson; back row are Bruce Ankeny, Sara Albright, Holly Stevermer and Naseem Shahrivar. Laehn, Steier, Griemann and Ankeny were members of the committee.

Blue Earth residents have noticed that something new has been “sprouting” up around the town.

Those new things are the Little Sprout statues 16 of them to be exact.

“We placed them around town last Sunday morning (July 8),” says Lissia Laehn, a member of the Business Improvement Committee (BIC) and the sub-committee that has been in charge of the new Sprout statues. “It took five of us from about 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to get them placed.”

The goal had been to get them all set by Giant Days, and they accomplished their goal.

The idea for the Sprouts goes back quite a few years when then Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce executive director Shelly Greimann tried to get the idea accomplished.

“Shelly said she just needed to have the right people at the right time to make it a go,” Laehn says. “So I guess this is the right time and we had the right people.”

The BIC group took on the project and raised donations from other groups, individuals and businesses to fund it. Each statue had a cost of about $1,500 which included the statue, shipping from Chicago, paint, concrete pad, and the cost of the mold itself. That mold was $5,000 alone.

“And we had to get the OK from the B&G company which now owns the Green Giant and Sprout trademarks,” Laehn says. “They gave us the OK, but they stipulated we have the Sprouts’ skin painted with their official green color for the Sprout.”

That green paint was applied at the factory in Chicago that produced the statues. Only the skin areas was painted, so the BIC committee had local artists apply to design and paint each Sprout in a unique way.

Those eight artists are Sonja Anderson, Bruce Ankeny, Becki Steier, Sara Albright, Holly Stevermer, Naseem Shahrivar, Rachel Roverud and Barb Pearson.

After the paint work was done, each statute was taken to Hanson Auto for a clear coat protective finish.

Next came the concrete pads which were installed around the town, one for each of the 16 statues. That was done just a few days before they were bolted into place.

Still to come are plaques to be installed at the base of each statue that will name the artist and the donors for each Sprout. There were just 22 donors who covered the costs involved.

“The BIC group decided to have each one painted differently,” Laehn says. “The idea was to have people go around town and find each one. If they were all the same, people would only need to see the one that is out at Giant Park. This way, we thought we would get visitors to tour around the town looking for them.” The committee is thinking of developing a map of where each statue is located, and have it available at the new Giant Welcome Center.

Already the statues are a hit with lots of people taking their photos with them. Laehn says if you take a selfie with the Sprout, you can tag it with #sproutselfie.

Laehn and the other committed members have one big concern.

“We don’t want people to climb on them,” Laehn says. “Some have used the stem on the Sprout heads to climb on and those stems are pretty delicate,” she says. “In fact when they all arrived, four were damaged on the tops of their heads and the stems were broken.”

Then there is the vandalism aspect. Less than 48 hours after they were put in place, the one at Steinberg Park was vandalized when someone threw stones at it and caused a lot of damage.

Blue Earth Police were investigating the crime and the BIC group has offered a reward for information about the incident.

“We are sure upset over this senseless act,” Laehn said. “It is terrible, and we hope someone is held accountable.”

Meanwhile, she adds, the group hopes people will enjoy the new Sprouts and think they are cute.

“We think they are a great attraction and nice addition to the town,” she says. “And we hope others do, too.”