Despite struggles, Gary Greff is never giving up on Enchanted Highway project
REGENT— Gary Greff, the creator of the Enchanted Highway, has no plans of ever giving up on his dream, even when times get tough.
Greff is working on a new sculpture for the Enchanted Highway, a knight and dragon sculpture that will be placed in front of the Enchanted Castle in Regent. It would be the first sculpture of the tourist attraction to actually be in the town of 200 people.
"When you have a castle, you've got to have a dragon," Greff said. "That's just part of when you grow up and you read fairy tales. You've got a castle, you've got a knight and a castle, and he's defending the castle, and it's usually against a dragon. So you want the fairy tale ending to end at the castle."
The knight will stand at 35-feet tall, while holding a sword, and the dragon will be about 40-feet tall. Greff said, for the most part, the knight's body is complete. However, he does have to work on his head and then get the entire thing put into the ground. The dragon may take a bit longer to complete though.
Greff hopes the knight and dragon sculpture will stand out from the others because he plans to add a sound system for the knight, so he could possibly say something to the effect of, "I'm the knight of the Enchanted Castle, here to protect the castle from the dragon." He also wants the dragon to be able to breathe fire once an hour and have its eyes light up.
Greff has been working on the Enchanted Highway for more than 28 years and has self-funded a majority of it, including the upkeep that comes along with maintaining all of the sculptures. He said the money from a gift shop on Regent's Main Street has not been able to raise enough funds to cover many of the costs maintaining all of the Enchanted Highway sculptures.
Greff said he is not sure how much longer he can continue to work on the project and is worried that he may have to tear down pieces just to save himself money in the long-run. The project is almost entirely self-funded, and Greff also takes care of the upkeep, such as welding old pieces and mowing the area, himself. He has gone to the state Legislature earlier this year to see if lawmakers would be willing to find ways to help the project's longevity. However, he is unsure how that will turn out.
"I'm hoping the state will come on board," he said. "I feel that it's helped the state. I think it's helped the whole area. People have come to the state just to see it."
Ultimately, the excitement Greff sees in people's faces when they see the sculptures keeps him going.
"There's people that still come out and say that they really enjoy the sculptures, they really say (they are) inspirational to them. ... When they say how they enjoy it, I think, 'Well, it must mean something to somebody,'" Greff said. "I always think if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. ... Nothing worthwhile is easy. You've got to put some sweat into it and put work into it. I've put a lot of sweat and work and a lot of everything into this."
Enchanted Castle restaurant manager Bill Anderson has known Greff for about 10 years, and he believes that Greff will never give up on the project.
"Gary has an amazing perseverance," Anderson said. "He undertook this project over 25 years ago, and he won't give up on it. It'll be something that he does the rest of his life, however long that is."
Anderson added that Greff is trying to ensure that the project continues even when he can no longer work on it. He knows Greff wants the sculptures to remain part of North Dakota way beyond his years.
"It says a lot about him," Anderson said. "He cares about this project immensely. It's something that he won't give up on and he's just hoping he can find someway or someone or somehow that they continue into the future well beyond when he can do it."
Greff said he started the project with the idea of keeping their small town alive, and he has no plans of stopping.
"Until they bury me, I'm going to keep working on this project and other projects that I might have," Greff said. "I've got a lot of things I'm up dreaming about at night that I want to see done."