Field art puts smile on people's faces

That's the point of Reinking's original field scenes

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

OELWEIN, Iowa -- It's; a sure sign of spring, along with tulips and budding trees.

It's time for Bernard Reinking to take down his annual field art display so he can plant his field on Highway 3, west of Oelwein.


This year's display, "Bed and Breakfast,'' includes Santa sitting in an outhouse, an old metal bed frame and a table and chairs spread across the soybean stubble. For those who need prompting, there's a sign that tells them what the scene is.

Reinking puts up his annual field art after he harvests his crop.

"It's become a tradition,'' said the corn and soybean farmer.

The first year he built a pumping oil well. Next came a 20-foot tall champagne bottle and cocktail glass. The third year he dug a hole and stuck an old car nose first into the ground.

"It was like the Texas Cadillac ranch,'' he said with a chuckle.

This year's idea came when he was out "windshield farming.''

"I was driving through Amish country, and I saw a woman working in her garden,'' Reinking said. "She had an old bed frame that she turned into a flower bed.''

Each year Reinking's field art attracts a little more attention. It's featured it in area newspapers and mentioned on the radio.


"This year a woman sent me a card and thanked me for adding a little humor to the world,'' Reinking said. "Her son has a real bed and breakfast at Niagara Falls. She e-mailed him a photo of my bed and breakfast and told him he wasn't the only one around.''

Reinking said his neighbors enjoy playing tricks on him. Someone put a dead deer on the table before Christmas. He removed it at the DNR's request.

"They were getting calls about how kids didn't like seeing that so close to Christmas,'' he said.

Another group of jokers put up a sign that said, "No vacancy before Christmas,'' and it gave Reinking's phone number.

"We got a lot of calls from people saying that they liked it,'' Reinking said.

Originally a female mannequin was in the outhouse, but someone stole it even though it was chained down. Santa became the replacement.

Eventually a friend found and returned the mannequin. Reinking didn't take any chances at losing her again. She's standing in his machine shop.

With field work soon to begin, neighbors are already guessing at what Reinking will do after this year's harvest.


"I'm not telling,'' he said. "I will say that I have it done already, but you have to wait until fall to see what it is.''

He will give one hint -- it has lights on it.

Reinking said his neighbors kid him that he has too much time on his hands.

"I just like to make people laugh,'' he said. "That's why I do it.''

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