The Fiberglass Statue Graveyard of Sparta

13 June 2017

Sparta, Wisconsin is known as the bicycling capital of America.  Yet it has another, more surreal claim to fame. If you live in the States and have ever wondered where the fiberglass sculptures that ornament your malls and amusement parks come from then the answer is likely to be Sparta.  The city is the home of the FAST factory which produces thousands of pieces each year and has done since 1983.  Yet once the finished items are shipped, where do the molds go?

The answer is that they end their days in a field next to the factory.  Some of these shapes you might recognize, others are head scratchingly obscure as to what their purpose may have been.  Yet here they all lie together, slowly being weathered by the elements.  This is indeed a most unusual if supremely kitschy graveyard.

Image Credit Flickr User oijimbo
FAST stands for Fiberglass Animals, Shapes and Trademarks – you can see what they did there and why. All of the molds you see here have produced a hand-made finished product – the premises may be called a factory but many of these creations are unique.

After the job is done the company keeps the mold but their sheer size precludes storage – and of course many were made on a one-off basis.  Over the years the field’s inhabitants have grown to number in their hundreds in every conceivable shape and size. Big Boy rubs shoulders with vampire bats and sharks.  Giant skulls rub imaginary shoulders with oversize ice creams.  There is even something Darth Vader-ish to guard over the more timid denizens of this ever so slightly eerie place.

Image Credit Flickr User Rob
As the years pass so the elements do their work on the molds and they have come to appear almost like stone.  It is almost as if some giant Midwest Medusa has escaped from an asylum for ancient mythological creatures and wreaked her fury here, visiting havoc on contemporary allegorical beings for their upstart ways.  This ET will never phone home again, that’s for sure.

Image Credit Flickr User oijimbo
Image Credit Flickr User Rob
If you arrive in Sparta in want of sight-seeing then the good news is that the FAST graveyard is free and the ‘exhibits’ (for want of a better word) are not strewn around in too higgledy-piggledy a manner.  Rather they are lined up in rows of adequate width for a car to drive through without supervision.

You can also see sculptures which are in production (usually waiting to be painted) and those which, for whatever reason, didn't quite make it to their future homes.

Image Credit Flickr User Coco Mault
Image Credit Flickr User Coco Mault
Yet there is a certain danger.  Visitors are advised not to climb on the sculptures (yes, of course, a primary aim of tourists who are young, male or both).  These are molds and so do have sharp edges.  You don’t want to visit the local emergency room after having a brush with the mold of a vampire bat, after all.

Image Credit Flickr User oijimbo
So, next time you pass an elaborate fiberglass sculpture, perhaps spare a thought for the mold whence it came. Perhaps, in Sparta, Wisconsin, something will twitch momentarily in to life before once again falling in to deep slumber.

First Image Credit (and all others unless stated) by Flickr User Mykl Roventine

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