It has been a labor of love in more ways than one.
This past week, members of the committee that planned a farmers’ memorial for 10th and K-96 in Great Bend, finally got a sneak peak at what the finished product is going to look like. And they were impressed, to say the least.
The huge stainless steel artwork — depicting an early-day farmer, plowing with a team of draft horses — is being created by Hoisington artist brothers, Bruce and Brent Bitter, of B&B Metal Arts.
It is the inspiration of the late Jiggs Schulz, who was a leading local historian.
Ray “Jiggs” Schulz had stipulated what the memorial was to include and that it was to be informative, as well as decorative. The members of the committee, when they saw the nearly completed work this past week were in agreement that Schulz would have been pleased.
The Bitter brothers utilized historic examples of farming equipment and harness to design the steel sculpture and there are three layers of steel involved to build up all of the details, showing the historic plow, the harness, collars, hames and other pieces of equipment.
Bruce explained a specialized heat technique was used to create different colors in the stainless steel to further highlight these details and to differentiate between the two horses.
The stainless steel sculpture is about nine feet tall, but the monument will be even larger.
The steel image will be mounted on a concrete base that will be more than two feet tall. That base will be faced with native limestone, to add to the texture and color of the piece.
And the entire monument will be lighted so that it will be visible to passing traffic at night, too.
While the fund to pay for the memorial was begun through the efforts of Schulz, it has been added to through the Great Bend Foundation with the generosity of other local contributors, members of the committee explained.
Site work for the monument remains to be done, and it’s not clear when that will be accomplished. It was noted that the contractors will have to be careful. There could be challenges to working with heavy concrete in triple-digit heat.
The base will house metal pieces and after it is complete, the metal sculpture will be welded to the base and the parts of the sculpture will be welded together and finished on site.