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It Grew, and Grew, and Grew

I like to think I have a pretty good imagination.

A former lady friend, still a friend, once looked at me as I zinged off with a random string of consciousness and said she couldn’t imagine what the inside of my head looked like.

I suspect she was imagining some sort of flying acrobatic circus featuring squirrels.

Hot Sam's entrance with replica of a huge ladybug insect taking a photo with a Kodak camera
You'll know when you're at the entrance to Hot Sam's Foto park, a fun place for photos. **

But there’s a difference between having an imagination, and being a person with an imagination on a mission.

I’m still amazed when I see what some people have created around this country. People who have committed years, decades, even a lifetime, creating things most people wouldn’t even imagine Even those who might imagine them wouldn’t see it as a mission to commit the time, effort and money required to make them a reality.

One of those places is Hot Sam’s Antiques & Foto Park just off Interstate 35, about 30 miles due south of Minneapolis. It’s kind of hard to miss. Just look for the giant parrot, spaceship and shark while driving down the highway.

My image of Jake Hood and the creation of Hot Sam’s is that he and it aren’t all that much different than you and me.

Much like the collections most of us have in our homes devoted to one thing or another, it started small and just grew from there, and grew, and grew, and grew.

Hood opened an antique store on the property back in 1985 with his mother, Gladys. Hot Sam’s still sells antiques out of a couple buildings there. Make an offer, there’s no price tags.

Flying saucer suspended over water with a small fishing boat beneath.
Nope, you're not seeing things, that's a flying saucer hovering above the creek. **

Somewhere along the line Hood started adding large pieces, cars, trucks, boats. And somewhere further along the line he started re-creating those pieces into new and different things, flying saucers, a car that looks like Nemo the fish from Finding Nemo, and nostalgic tributes, the water tower from Petticoat Junction, the truck the Beverly Hillbillies ride into Cali-forn-i-a, Clifford the Big Red Dog.

It spreads throughout his 10-acre property with different scenes around every corner.

Hot Sam’s website has a full page of videos and stories that have been done about the place.

There’s no charge to just stop in and visit the antique store. They do charge $5 per person to stroll around and take pictures with your phone. It’s $25 if you use a fancier camera. The park is often used as a backdrop by professional photographers for family photos, high school graduation and I wouldn't be surprised if there's been a wedding-related shoot once or twice.

During the summer they’re open six days a week, closed Thursdays, from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.


**I allow use of my photos through Creative Commons License. I'm not looking to make money off this thing. I only ask you provide me with credit for the photo by noting my blog address,, or a link back to this page.


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