Even people who don’t hunt have spent decades searching for a particular pheasant in Brookings. It disappeared sometime before 1966, and left an eight foot-sized hole in the heart of the town. On Wednesday, the city are welcoming home an icon and celebrating with an equally legendary local family.
People take photos to hold on to memories. As is often the case, a nearly 70-year-old print inside the Pheasant Restaurant and Lounge only shows you what’s long been missing at the eatery
“People ask, what happened to the pheasant?” Georgiana Olson, owner, said.
The eight-foot tall namesake was already worn out and gone by the time Georgiana and Ron Olson bought the then Pheasant Cafe in 1966.
“It was a pile of rust laying out behind the building,” Georgiana said.
People in Brookings have something new to celebrate. An enthusiastic group watched the bird return, as a replica reclaimed its roost.
“We’re kind of doing this as a thank you, giving this back to the Brookings skyline,” Michael Johnson said.
Johnson says a Windom, MN, couple, Curt and Darla Wieneke approached him about making a replica of the original pheasant sculpture.
“Just popped in and said, ‘Any chance you’d be interested in an eight foot pheasant sculpture?’ I said, ‘Yes!'” Johnson said.
The Brookings mayor and Brookings Area Chamber of Commerce marked the occasion and 70 years of The Pheasant with a ribbon cutting. The grand gesture is actually a very personal gift to Ron and Georgiana. Johnson happens to be three generations down the Olson pecking order, and is their grandson.
“My grandpa always dreamed of seeing it up there again,” Johnson.
So, Johnson made it a reality.
“I was just shocked,” Georgiana said.
Seeing this after owning a pheasant-less Pheasant for 50-plus years must bring hundreds of emotions. Ron doesn’t need nearly as many words to express his gratitude.
“Well, I think it’s just awesome,” Ron said.
For decades, a picture showed what’s been missing at the Brookings business. Now, thanks to one big bird and a lot of heart, a new picture of Johnson with his arms around his grandparents — looking at the new pheasant on their business — gives you a snapshot of what The Pheasant Restaurant has had all along.