Nestled in the unincorporated community of Unger, West Virginia, lies an expansive parcel of property. A closer look at this property offers passersby a perplexing albeit familiar slice of Americana: the roadside attraction.
Massive fiberglass figures, including a lumberjack, a couple of Muffler Men, even Yogi Bear, jut out from the landscape, greeting people from a long-forgotten era. Ironically, this heartening tableau is set in one of the least populated states, which makes the statues’ buoyant grins seem all the more wistful.
But wistfulness is not the takeaway here. This is about West Virginia’s Only Amusement Park – Farnham’s Fantasy Farm.
The property in question is owned by George Farnham, a former Washington, DC lawyer turned packrat, who moved to the West Virginia hills in the 1980s. Farnham and his wife, Pam, grew to acquire their collection of quirky outdoor artifacts via websites like eBay. In fact, they have many charming stories about how they sourced their giants. For example, in 2005, they found “Brian,” a muscly beach bum that stood taller than their prized Muffler Man, for sale in Cincinnati. According to Farnham, Brian’s owner was selling it in the hopes of getting enough cash to buy a Muffler Man of his own. (You can’t make this stuff up).
And then there are the cats. At last count, the Farnhams have “just 22” cats, down from 31. This “type” of collection is perhaps more logical, as George happens to be the founder and president of “Give Purrs a Chance,” West Virginia’s first cat café. Still, it’s a lot of cats for one property.
The question is: why? Why do they do it? Collecting figures as a hobby is perfectly normal. But giant figures – most of which cost astronomical prices to disassemble, ship in and reassemble in place – scattered throughout the stead within sight of passing roadways? One could assume that George and Pam like the attention. Or, maybe they just like to make people smile.