On Thursday July 8, animal artist Ross Yesterday took on his biggest project of the summer, painting the Rothsay Parade Prairie Chicken.
Before Thursday, the Prairie Chicken was falling apart.
âIt was in pretty rough condition,â Rothsay Mayor Joe Tillman said. “We looked at it and noticed that a few pieces were falling off, and we decided to update it.”
Since the 1970s, this parade prairie chicken has been part of summer parades throughout Lake District. So the city fixed and patched it up and prepared it for painting.
âIt’s an identity thing – a unique thing – because people don’t know what a prairie chicken is,â Tillman said.
Rothsay’s claim to fame is to be the prairie chicken capital of Minnesota. Even the city’s trucks have the logo. The giant concrete bird like near Interstate 94 has been around since the 1970s.
But Rothsay also walks the walk. Thanks to conservation efforts in the region, the grasslands have been restored and preserved, allowing grassland chickens to show off and mate each spring. The most recent count reveals more than 2,000 prairie chickens in Clay County.
“What I do believe is that without the work of these organizations (like the Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society, Nature Conservancy, Minnesota DNR, and US Fish and Wildlife) in the 1970s to protect these habitats, we would not have prairie chickens in Minnesota, âsaid Brian Winter, president of the Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society.
Yesterday is an award-winning watercolor artist as well as a bird lover, and he would like to be nowhere else but to prepare the sculpture parade of the historic Rothay Parade.
âPrairie chickens are just as gorgeous as any other very colorful bird, especially the male, with those bright orange neck bags,â said Yesterday.
The restoration of prairie chicken is timely. Rothsay is getting ready for a big party in a few weeks, bringing back the rodeo after a 50-year absence.
As Thursday drew to a close, the Prairie Chicken had come back to life. Rothsay’s pride and joy will soon be strutting into a Main Street festival and parading again.