Goodland grasshopper invasion

Don’t fear the Goodland grasshopper

A farmer starts the gigantic Goodland grasshopper invasion

The Goodland giant grasshopper invasion started with a farmer.

Grasshoppers and farmers are an unusual combination. The reason is simple. Grasshoppers eat crops. Crops are a farmer’s source of income. Therefore, farmers don’t like grasshoppers.

Except maybe as a gigantic sculpture. Don’t fear the grasshopper. It won’t bite or jump onto you.

The farmer who built the grasshopper

Lloyd R. Harden
Lloyd Harden,
Gigantic Goodland Grasshopper creator

One Sunday morning in 1972 or thereabouts, Lloyd Harden was bored. He decided to build a little tractor from “bits and pieces of used iron” on his farm.

The little tractor spelled the end of Harden’s boredom. From then on, every spare moment went to his new hobby. He built all kinds of creations, including the grasshopper. He built the grasshopper from tractor parts.

After a while, Harden’s hobby became a business, known as Creative Arts from Used Parts. Buyers took his works from Detroit to Los Angeles. “That’s a pretty good spread,” he told the McCook (Neb.) Gazette.

The irony of a farmer creating a grasshopper wasn’t lost on Harden. “Imagine what this one could eat,” he told the Sherman County (Kan.) Star.

His property adjoined Kansas Highway 27. Passers-by could enjoy the creations as they drove along the highway. Many stopped and posed with the creations. Some bought creations. A few stole them.

Besides the grasshopper, his little metal zoo eventually housed metal turkeys, ants, eagles, flowers, a cactus, a palm tree, a steam locomotive, and a coal car. He even created a tribute to Goodland’s Giant van Gogh Painting.

Eventually, Harden ran out of used parts and turned to create silhouettes from sheet metal. Among other commissions, he made silhouettes marking the Kidder Massacre site.

goodland grasshopper invasion
The Giant Grasshopper with the “It’s 5 o’Clock Somewhere” Palm Tree & Chair

Gigantic Goodland grasshopper moves to a new home

After Harden died in 2012, his estate sold his assets at auction (PDF). Nearly all Harden’s artworks were sold away from Sherman County. Only two remained. Lee and Dee Ann Ihrig saved the grasshopper and palm tree from exile.

The Ihrigs moved the grasshopper and the tree five miles south to their farm three miles north of Goodland. When Harden crafted the grasshopper, he painted it a tan color. The Ihrigs painted the grasshopper John Deere green and yellow.

They placed a lawn chair under the palm tree and added a sign that read, “It’s 5 o’Clock Somewhere”.

How to visit the grasshopper

Goodland gigantic grasshopper selfies
Grasshopper, what big eyes you have!

Start your Goodland gigantic grasshopper invasion by taking your picture with the grasshopper. The Goodland gigantic grasshopper is a prime selfie spot. The grasshopper is a mile north of the North Caldwell and Highway 27 junction on Land and Sky Scenic Byway. For parking, turn at the first field road south of the grasshopper. Park in the lot close to the highway and walk to the grasshopper. For safety reasons, please do not pull off on Highway 27’s shoulder.

The grasshopper is one of the Top 10 Attractions to visit in Goodland and Sherman County, Kan.

Pay respects to a Medal of Honor winner

When you finish at the grasshopper, you may pay respects to a Medal of Honor winner. Staff Sgt. Jack Weinstein rests in Cheyenne Valley Cemetery 23 miles north of the grasshopper on Highway 27. He was denied the Medal of Honor because of discrimination. Sixty-three years later, his widow received the ultimate award for bravery from President Barack Obama.

Visit more destinations

Learn more about travel in the MidwestKansas, and particularly Northwest Kansas.

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