No matter how creative Lynn Backus is with her chainsaw art, she can’t sell a piece of her work without people seeing it.
With so many cars whizzing by her workplace at the roadside store at Dugualla Bay Farms, Backus got an idea and acted on it.
Then she had to sell the idea to Bob Hulbert, owner of Dugualla Bay Farms.
“I have an elephant,” she told him. “Is it OK if I can bring it down here?”
“He said, ‘You’ve got a what?’”
For about a month now, travelers along State Highway 20 in North Whidbey haven’t been able to drive by the store without spotting the farm’s massive new inhabitant.
Visitors stop and snap pictures beside the elephant, which is made of fiberglass and rebar and weighs roughly 1,000 pounds, according to Backus.
Some jump in their cars and leave while others wander over to the stand, which sells fresh produce, ice cream and other items, including Backus’ artwork.
It was this trickle-over effect that stirred up the idea of the elephant in the first place.
“My idea was for it to be an attraction and possibly grow from that,” Backus said.
The plan worked, according to Emily Meagher, who works in the store and can’t count the times she’s been asked about the elephant.
The most common question: “How did the elephant from South Whidbey get there?”
The elephant is a holdover from a Greenbank business that used to sell life-size replicas of wild animals, including lions, tigers, bears and giraffes, as well as replicas of famous people such as Elvis and Marilyn Monroe.
After the store closed, the elephant sat on property along Highway 20 in Freeland for about three years until Backus arranged for the relocation in June.
Backus said she traded some of her wood carvings for the elephant in a deal with friends who own the property where it stood.
It was disassembled, loaded on a flatbed trailer and sent on its way to North Whidbey.
“It became a landmark,” said Backus, who comes from a well-known Whidbey Island family of woodcarvers.
“It actually was sitting there for sale, but there was no ‘for sale’ sign on it.”
Backus said she loves the elephant.
And she’s learned that children do too, sometimes a little too much.
Since its arrival in Oak Harbor, the tusks were broken off by kids hanging from them, so the elephant has been roped off for everyone’s protection.
Backus has big plans to spruce up the elephant and create more animals from wood, adding to the roadside attraction.
“I might even make a baby elephant,” she said.
The elephant is so far nameless, but she plans to place a jar beside it, asking the public to put their suggestions.
Dugualla Bay Farms is approaching its busiest time of the year, gearing up for its pumpkin patch and corn mazes in the fall.
A woodcarving show and auction, benefiting the Wounded Warrior project, is set for Aug. 9-11.
Backus hopes the elephant might be joined by a friend or two by then.
Not that it’s lacking attention from visitors.
“They think it’s pretty cool,” Meagher said.