LUCAS — The world’s largest souvenir travel plate is under repair just off Kansas Highway 18 in Lucas.
The welcome sign sustained significant damage in a nearly 45-minute hailstorm in April 2015, and the paint also had become faded.
Local fundraising efforts and a grant have made it possible for artist Erika Nelson to refurbish her original design, which was completed 11 years ago. Fundraising efforts are continuing to add a cement easel to the project, as well as some landscaping.
“I don’t think we’re all the way done fundraising for the entire new vision, but we can at least get it patched and repainted for now,” Nelson said Tuesday, as she worked to sand the surface for repainting. “Get one of our welcome to Lucas things to be a little more welcoming.”
The nearly 14-foot tall work of art is created out of an old satellite dish, originally donated by Wilson Communications. Large hailstones had in some areas completely punctured the surface.
Nelson is a local artist who has studio space in downtown Lucas and a mobile attraction to display her “World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things.”
Dubbed the “World’s Largest Souvenir Plate,” the welcome sign fits nicely into her creations.
The sign features several Lucas-area attractions, including Lake Wilson, Garden of Eden, the local airport and Miller’s Park sculptures.
The revamp also will allow the project to reflect changes the community has experienced through the last decade. While a section of the plate will continue to feature the Russell County town’s historic downtown, there have been new businesses and the addition of the elaborate Bowl Plaza public restroom.
“It’s kind of nice when you have to redo it not just for necessity, but also because your town keeps doing stuff,” Nelson said.
The renovations also will feature more UV-resistant paint to prevent fading and are expected to be completely finished within a month.
Lucas is well-known for its thriving folk art culture. When community leaders originally identified the need for a welcome sign, they knew they wanted something that would reflect the town’s unique heritage, she said.
“You can put a limestone sign out there, but you can also do a really great embellished one,” Nelson said. “It’s a good set of out-of-the-box thinkers, or impractical solutions to practical problems.”