I was thinking out loud at some point late last week and asked myself the following question:
Should Outlook create a World's Biggest (Insert Object Here), or some other type of unique roadside attraction?
I just found myself thinking about a few things that led me to such a question.
First off, there’s that squabble going on between Moose Jaw and the country of Norway over which place officially has the world's biggest moose statue. In the last few days, it’s been learned that Ontario is finding a way to butt into the conversation now too.
There’s the fact that the SkyTrail walking bridge in Outlook has been closed for over half a decade now, with no reported plans to re-open anytime soon.
There’s the roadside claim to fame that the town of Davidson – an hour southeast of Outlook – has in the form of the world's biggest coffee pot. It stands 24 feet tall, and if it were filled up, it’s said that the pot could hold about 150,000 cups of the morning brew. The monstrous coffee pot is also included in Canada Post's Roadside Attraction Postage Stamp Series & Collection.
Then I also thought about that one episode of TV’s ‘Corner Gas’ in which Dog River residents are trying to come up with their own “world’s biggest ____”. Ultimately, the episode ends with Brent, Lacey and Hank looking up at an attraction in another community before they literally ask each other if they want to go into town and spend some money – the very thing that locals want tourists and visitors to do in their respective communities.
Surely a vibrant, creative town like Outlook can come up with something?
I’m not saying that it could or even should be something as simple in concept as deciding on an object in order to just blow it up in size because the feedback could be questionable; my favorite “review” of the huge coffee pot in Davidson is a three-out-of-five rating on Trip Advisor that labels it as “Okay but not necessary”. But on the other hand, not everything is going to be a hit with everybody, and you can’t please everyone.
My favorite “world’s biggest” object that I came across in my research is the massive Tyrannosaurus Rex statue located in Drumheller, Alberta – also known as the Dinosaur Capital of the World. The T-Rex opened to the public in late 2000 and serves as a money-generating tourist attraction for those who are enamored with dinosaurs; people happily plop down $4.00 to step inside the 86-foot tall beast and walk the 106 steps to the top, where up to 12 people can fit inside the dino’s mouth for all sorts of cool photo ops to plaster on social media.
The structure is four times the size of what a regular T-Rex was in its lifetime, measuring 151 feet long and clocking in at 145,000 lbs, with a price tag of just over one million dollars.
I certainly didn’t include the T-Rex in this conversation to say Outlook should build something similar, I just thought it was cool. Last summer I took a photo in front of a real T-Rex skeleton, and this coming summer I intend to take a photo inside the mouth of the world’s biggest. There’s your attraction factor right there – Drumheller is guaranteed to get my $4.00 at some point this August.
Outlook surely isn’t building any million-dollar dinosaurs, and in fact the area has struggled with peaks and valleys when it comes to five years of fundraising in order to pay for a new pool that will cost just shy of $2 million. But I think back to those meetings held last spring where consultant Chris Fields talked about establishing a community action plan for Outlook and the RM of Rudy, and his advice of not letting time pass you by because other areas will prosper while you get left behind.
I posed the question on my Facebook page and got a few responses. One person pointed me to the works of Danish craft artist Thomas Dambo, who creates troll figures out of recycled materials. A troll “guarding our bridges” would perhaps make for a unique attraction that sets Outlook apart from other communities with traffic bridges. Last I heard, Saskatoon – the Bridge City – doesn’t have one.
Other suggestions of course pointed to agriculture, such as maybe building the world’s biggest wheat sheaf, or perhaps touching on Outlook’s claim as being the irrigation capital of the province. All good areas of possible exploration, in my view.
Is building such an attraction even necessary in the long run? Not really, because there are other ways that any community can grow, stand out and hopefully prosper. But I do believe that Outlook and its citizens may need to double down and sink their teeth into a new project almost immediately after this new pool opens in a few months.
No community can afford to rest on its laurels.
For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.