Greg Novak, a farmer from Gilman, Minnesota, spent hundreds of hours building a gigantic snowman. He calls the towering 50-foot structure ‘Granddaddy’. While some neighbors have seriously questioned Greg’s sanity, he hopes that the snowman will shake onlookers out of their winter blues. “If you can’t beat the winter, embrace it,” is his motto.
Novak came up with the idea for Granddaddy in late January, when he had to move great mounds of snow to prevent the roofs of his greenhouses from collapsing. “As long as you’re moving it, might as well do something practical with it,” he thought. So he set to work with all his farming equipment. Novak began by piling the snow on to skid loaders. He then used a silage blower to direct the snow into stacked cylinders – Granddaddy’s body and head. The base cylinder is 45 foot wide, while the others are smaller but still impressive in size.
“Granddaddy’s arms are a 61-foot grain elevator. An augur they used to be. The eyes are plywood – 4 foot wide by 6 foot high. The nose is a 55-gallon barrel, the smile is like, 10 foot wide. The scarf is about 80 foot long, the broom is about 35 foot high, the buttons are garbage can covers,” Novak describes his creation. Snow storms, frigid temperatures and other weather-related setbacks often hampered Novak’s progress. “The weather wasn’t cooperating. The higher I got, it seemed like the more weather-related issues I got. Like too warm, you couldn’t blow the snow. Too cold or too windy, you couldn’t blow the snow because it wouldn’t stay up there. But we got it up.”
Despite all these issues, Novak built the snowman in 5 weeks. “When I start a job, I like to finish it,” he said. His friends and family helped him by completing farm chores as he single-handedly built his masterpiece. Novak had first considered the names ‘El Grande’ and ‘Mr. Snovak’, but Granddaddy was most befitting as the snowman stands guard over one of Benton County’s century farms.
Visitors are pouring in by the dozen from all over the state, and Granddaddy has managed to charm every one of them. Especially kids like 8-year-old Daniel Kroska. “I think everyone should see it!” the boy said in excitement. “I just want to give him a big giant hug,” he added, just after he was pulled away from an attempt to climb the structure.
Valerie Timm, another visitor, told the local media that simply looking at Granddaddy’s photos wasn’t enough for her. She needed to see him in person. “It’s breathtaking,” she said.
Jeannie Vogel said: “I thought, ‘We’re not somewhere warm this week; we might as well enjoy the cold.’ So, here we are. It’s way bigger in person.”
“I’m amazed at the engineering of it. I would love to see how he did it,” said Jeff Vogel.
When the Harbarth family came to know about Granddaddy on a TV news report, they drove 70 miles from Brownton to admire it in person. “This is unreal,” Gerald Harbarth remarked.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first of Novak’s crazy snow structures. Granddaddy’s predecessor was built in 1991 – he was 29 foot tall. “Twenty years ago when I made the last one, my nieces and nephews never saw it,” said Novak. “Now they have one tangible that they can get a picture in front of.”
When asked about his next great architectural project, Novak replied in jest: “Las Vegas – warm weather!”