Angry Bird sculpture to advertise corn maze
BERRYVILLE — A tractor-trailer driver, headed east on Harry Byrd Highway (Va. 7) early Friday afternoon, sounded his horn and gave a thumbs-up.
From a roadside field about two miles east of the town, Harriet Wegmeyer waved back.
The driver was saluting a wooden sculpture in the field at Wayside Farm — owned by Philip and Mark Shenk — the Angry Bird and its giant slingshot.
As soon as its banner arrives, the display — put together by Harriet and her husband Tyler and the Shenks — will advertise a new corn maze and pick-your-own pumpkin patch that will open for business Sept. 21.
But the sculpture, which went up May 11, is already generating plenty of buzz.
“Harriet created the bird out of a round [hay] bale and a traffic cone,” said Philip Shenk.
He and his brother and Tyler built the platform for the bird and the mighty slingshot, which took five pieces of timber, bolted together, to construct.
It had to be tall, Philip said, because when the corn for the maze grows up, it will be nine to 10 feet in height.
The bucket on the front of the loader they used “didn’t go up as high as I’d have liked it to,” he added.
Mark Shenk got credit for putting the pieces together, based on everyone else’s ideas.
“I’m really surprised it came out right the first time,” he said.
The idea for the display came from the Wegmeyer sons — Torston, 6, Tucker, 5, and Colden, 2 — an in-house “focus group.”
“We were thinking about something agriculturally related, like a tractor,” Harriet said. But the boys vetoed that as “too boring.”
They came up with the Angry Bird idea — based on the popular video game. “As long as we stick to what they want, we’re probably OK,” their father said.
Torston helped his mother by bringing out his stuffed Angry Bird for her to copy.
The display is definitely a traffic-stopper.
As the quartet explained its new partnership and the new direction for the 120-acre Wayside Farm, a few drivers in the eastbound lanes pulled over to make photos.
Harriet said that on the Monday after it was installed, she opened her Facebook page to see a picture of the Angry Bird.
She asked Tyler if he had posted it, but no, someone else had seen it and sent it to her, having no idea it was her creation.
The Shenks and Wegmeyers are cooperating on a commercial corn and soybean crop at Wayside, as well as the pick-your-own pumpkin patch.
The Angry Bird will be the theme of the 10-acre corn maze that will soon be planted in the field where it sits. The paths in the maze will be laid out to depict the bird, with two sections — one easy for the young children, one more challenging for older youth and adults.
Angry Bird will be “taking off” from Clarke County, but to the west, where it is headed, another maze is planned.
In Knoxville, Iowa — which is, Tyler noted, the state that produces the most pork in the country — another maze will depict the Angry Bird landing.
“It will be landing in the heartland where all the pigs are,” he said.
In September, the local maze should be ready. In addition to pumpkins for purchase, the farm will also offer a pumpkin-shaped playhouse and games for the children, all with an agriculture theme.
Harriet noted that the “focus group” will probably test all the games.
The farm shop will have exhibits explaining how food is grown and produced. Tyler said the Virginia Farm Bureau is helping to put together the exhibits.
Philip Shenk, who works for the Farm Bureau, said education is a major part of that organization’s purpose.
The Wegmeyers, who come from dairy farm backgrounds, operate a commercial pumpkin-producing farm on 25 acres in Hamilton, where they also offer a pick-your-own pumpkin patch.
“We ship pumpkins up and down the East Coast,” Tyler said.
At the Clarke County location, they expect to offer 50 varieties of pumpkins for sale in the fall.
Another car stopped on the roadside for a photo opportunity, and a carload of teens drove by, whistling and shouting.
Tyler had to smile.
The Angry Bird, he said, “brings out the child in everybody.”
— Contact Val Van Meter at email@example.com