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Enchanted Highway sculptor turns to Kickstarter to raise $15,000 for next addition

REGENT, N.D. -- Gary Greff hopes support from the Internet will help him erect an enormous spider web propped up by prairie wildflowers as the next addition to his "Enchanted Highway" collection of giant sculptures.

Enchanted Highway

REGENT, N.D. -- Gary Greff hopes support from the Internet will help him erect an enormous spider web propped up by prairie wildflowers as the next addition to his "Enchanted Highway" collection of giant sculptures.

With an assist from Fargo's Emerging Prairie, Greff, a retired educator-turned-scrap metal sculptor, has launched a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $15,000 for the project.

His gigantic spider web would be the eighth huge piece of art adorning a lonely stretch of highway in southwest North Dakota. His purpose, as with the others, is snaring tourists, preferably luring them to Regent, his struggling hometown, where visitors might linger and shop or even stay a night at his Enchanted Castle motel.

Greff's spider web would be made from steel cable and stretch 70 feet by 70 feet. That's roughly as tall as a seven-story building, a scale in keeping with the Enchanted Highway's gargantuan sizes.

"I wanted something that dealt with string art," Greff said Monday, explaining the inspiration for a piece featuring a spider web.


Stringing that much cable will pose some challenges, and if he gets his sculpture off the ground, Greff expects he will need two and possibly three cranes to erect the piece.

He already has obtained most of the raw materials, scoured from scrapyards around North Dakota, including the drums of four cement mixers that will serve as the bodies of his spiders.

The idea came to Greff one day while he was driving down Interstate 94 and saw a cement truck drive by.

Besides the web, he plans a scene with three or four spiders and wildflowers that will support the spider web. One of the spiders will be on the web and will be made of aluminum because steel would be too heavy.

Greff, who started his work on the Enchanted Highway in 1989 when he retired and returned to his hometown, already has contributed $30,000 toward the project. Besides the $15,000 he's trying to raise on Kickstarter, he will seek another $15,000 from grants.

The idea to tap the Internet for donors came when Greff attended the Misfits Conference in Fargo in May. For his earlier sculptures, Greff relied on individual donations and small grants.

Jackson Ridl, an intern with Emerging Prairie, built the Kickstarter page, which had drawn 91 backers and donations totaling more than $4,700 by Sunday afternoon. The monthlong campaign had 18 days remaining to reach the goal.

"So far I think we're doing very well," Ridl said.


Backers can get a variety of rewards for their donations, starting with a signed digital copy of Greff's sketch for a $1 contribution to a huge wall canvas print for donations of $1,000 or more.

Prints of sculptures of the Enchanted Highway sculptures will be made from pictures captured by a professional photographer, Ridl said. A contribution of $250 or more can win the donor a stay in the Enchanted Castle.

Despite Greff's efforts, and the renown the Enchanted Highway has brought to the area, Regent, with a population of around 150, continues to struggle. So does Greff and his motel partners.

At age 66, he's also concerned about the sustainability of his efforts. His sculptures require repairs and maintenance. Not only that, he still needs to secure land for his big spider web.

"That's all I can do is keep trying," Greff said. "I don't give up easy."

Sara Otte Coleman, North Dakota's tourism director, is a fan of Greff's Enchanted Highway and hopes the Kickstarter campaign catches fire.

"It's probably been one of the most photographed and most written-about attractions in the state," she said. "People are fascinated with it. It's something unique, a bit quirky. It's one of those things that's uniquely North Dakota."

The Enchanted Highway


The Enchanted Highway begins at Exit 72 on Interstate 94 near Gladstone, and ends about 30 miles down the road, southbound, at Regent. The collection of seven giant scrap-metal sculptures begins with "Geese in Flight" at the Interstate exit. Other works include the "World's Largest Tin Man," "Teddy Rides Again," "Grasshoppers on the Field" and "Pheasants on the Prairie."

For information online about the Enchanted Prairie scenic drive, visit http://bit.ly/1gA7gPQ . To visit the Kickstarter fund drive page, go to http://kck.st/1KVrApW .

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