St. Paul, Minnesota Has a Gnome Restaurant You Gotta Check Out!

Now more than two years into my nomadic journey as a full-time RVer traveling around the country, I sometimes find myself missing the gnome collection that I’ve been growing since my teenage years. There aren’t a whole lot of places to decorate with gnomes when your home is 33 feet long by eight feet wide, so the bulk of my collection is locked up in a storage unit. I’m sure they’re doing okay, but I’ll admit that I worry about them from time to time.

Although I don’t have the pleasure of spending time with as many gnomes as I’d like to these days, I make up for that by visiting gnome-themed places around the country! My latest gnometastic adventure was to a restaurant called The Happy Gnome in St. Paul, Minnesota. It’s easy to name a restaurant after gnomes because it’s clever, but this local spot really embraces its love of gnomes in the décor and overall theme.

The Happy Gnome has been in business for over 10 years and focuses on fresh and seasonal cuisine with local ingredients and a creative flair. The restaurant also has about 90 craft beers on tap, as well as a whiskey list with over 250 selections. I’m a pescatarian and my husband loves all-things-meat, but The Happy Gnome gave us the best of both worlds with an ahi tuna noodle bowl for me and a sirloin steak for him. Better yet, The Happy Gnome’s outdoor patio is dog-friendly, so our pup, Monkey, got to enjoy this gnome adventure right alongside us!

In addition to the delicious food, excellent selection of Belgian beer, and relaxing patio atmosphere, what I really loved about The Happy Gnome is how many gnomes call this restaurant home. Gnomes were everywhere you looked – from the menu to the glassware, the beer taps, in the windowsills, and sitting around the fireplace. My only complaint was that they didn’t have any merchandise available for sale, because I would have loved buying a souvenir from this awesome place.

So, if you ever find yourself in Minnesota, do yourself a favor and stop by The Happy Gnome. Your taste buds will thank you, and you’ll meet lots of little gnome friends to make your meal special. Unfortunately, the restaurant didn’t have any gnome friends that I could take along with me on my journey, but it made ME a happy gnome to be surrounded by such friendly faces.

Located in the Cathedral Hill Neighborhood at 498 Selby Avenue in St. Paul, The Happy Gnome is open on Sundays from 10am to midnight, Mondays through Thursdays from 11am to midnight, and Fridays and Saturdays from 11am to 1am.

A New Gnome World Record! 755 “Gnomes” Gather in Atlanta!

There are over 40,000 records in the Guinness World Records database, but few more relevant to this group of club members than the “largest gathering of people dressed as garden gnomes.” Since November 18, 2011, this coveted title has been held by a BBC Hereford & Worcester, which gathered 478 people dressed like gnomes in Worcester, UK to raise money for BBC Children in Need. In fact, our very own club member, Davy Turner, was part of that legendary day!

Well now, we have a new (pending) world record holder to congratulate in the U.S. city of Atlanta, Georgia! It took a full decade to get these gnomes’ numbers up, but a group called Krewe of the Grateful Gluttons organized its tenth attempt to break the record at the Inman Park Festival Parade on April 28. This is a wonderful local group that has been advocating for grown-up playtime since 1999, and its mission is to get everyone to come out and play because creative participation in civic events is a priceless contribution to the community. This year, Krewe of the Grateful Gluttons was able to bring together a whopping 755 people dressed as garden gnomes. In 2016, the group was only able to gather 260 gnomes, and in 2017 that number reached 315. So, this is definitely a big accomplishment for organizer Chantelle Rytter, her Krewe, and all gnomekind!

At the time this article was written, the group was still waiting for official confirmation from Guinness World Records to confirm that it is, in fact, the new world record holder. But regardless, this is still very exciting news for our growing community of gnome fans. Red hats filled the park, white beards were adorned by gnomes of all shapes and sizes, and the gnome pun signs were nothing short of hilarious. Although I moved away from Atlanta too soon to get to participate in this momentous day myself, I couldn’t be prouder of my old city!

So, with this record-breaking day in mind, you might be wondering what other gnome records exist in the world. Right? Well, our very own Ann Atkin still holds the Guinness World Record for the “largest collection of gnomes and pixies” (2,042), a record that was confirmed on March 25, 2011 at the four-acre Gnome Reserve in West Putford, Devon, UK. And the record for the “largest garden gnome” is held by Ron Hale of Nanoose, British Columbia in Canada. Standing at 25 feet, 11 inches tall, this gnome was built in 1998 for an amusement park that no longer exists, so it stands on the grounds of a petrol station today. Congratulations to our famous gnome friends in Atlanta and aspiring record-breakers all around the world!

A Visit to Hopping Gnome Brewing in Wichita, Kansas

In our last issue of Gnome News, I highlighted some of the best gnome-themed restaurants and breweries around the country. Since that time, I’ve had the opportunity to visit one of these amazing places!

To visit family and friends for Christmas, I embarked on a cross-country road trip from Arizona to Georgia and Illinois with my husband and pup. A quick look at a map revealed that we would be traveling near Wichita, Kansas, which is the home of Hopping Gnome Brewing!

It was a clear and chilly Wednesday night when we rolled into town after driving for over eight hours. Hopping Gnome Brewery is located in the Douglas Design District of Wichita and got its start with a Kickstarter campaign a few years ago. I was a bit disappointed to learn that the owners, Torrey and Stacy Lattin, aren’t gnome collectors or as obsessed with gnomes as me. Instead, the inspiration for the brewery’s name came from a gnome giveaway from a Kansas City Royals All Star game. “How about Hopping Gnome? You know like hops, and gnomes are known for drinking?” Torrey asked his wife.

Regardless, this brewery really embraces its gnome theme and is completely decked out with gnome décor and gnome-inspired merchandise. The illuminated sign outside instantly welcomes all gnome lovers, and there’s a long row of gnomes waiting to meet you inside near the ceiling. Pages of Wil Huygen’s iconic book, Gnomes, are displayed at the bar, and gnome artwork adorns the walls.  Since it was the holiday season, there was also a Christmas tree decorated with gnomes.

All of the beer glasses feature the brewery’s gnome logo, which made the delicious brews taste even better. We ordered a flight of beers to sample each and every one. My two favorites were the Barrel Aged Coffee Stout and the Rollergirl RyePA.

The brewery doesn’t serve food (other than some tasty free popcorn), so we ordered a couple pizzas from Piatto Neapolitan Pizzeria next door. I highly recommend the Mushroom Medley with sautéed cremini, white, and shiitake mushrooms!

I spent several hours at the Hopping Gnome, taking a million pictures and chatting with the staff about all things gnome-related. The brewery also has free Wi-Fi (the password is GnomeBeer1) and some fun card games and board games to play. To savor all these fond memories, I visited the brewery’s little merchandise section to stock up on gnome gear – a t-shirt and beanie hat that I wear pretty much every day now.

So, if you ever find yourself in Kansas, make sure to stop by the Hopping Gnome and say hello! The brewery is open Wednesdays through Sundays and is well worth the trip!

How Australia’s “Gnomesville” Became an International Sensation

Not many people have heard of Wellington Mill or Dardanup, tiny towns south of Perth on the great island continent of Australia. That was, anyway, until a group of gnomes decided to take up residence here and capture the imagination of people all over the world!

It’s a mystery how Gnomesville originally began. Some rumors say that a gnome-repairwoman started the trend to decorate a section of road, while others believe that a gnome was left behind to “stand guard” at a dangerous traffic intersection. Originally seen as a form of protest art, it’s much more of a tourist attraction today. There have been over 7,000 gnomes that call Gnomesville home, and this population is growing by the day.

The gnomes’ population grew so much that they threatened to distract drivers passing by. But they were promptly moved back a bit to habitats for everyone’s safety. Just like any population center, there are good gnomes and bad gnomes here. Some play professional football, others are partying, some are flying planes, and a few are being punished in a fenced-in detention center.

It’s a surreal and blissful spectacle full of bad puns (E.T. phone gnome!), political advocacy, and pure silliness. Gnomesville has been around since the 1990s and has suffered from floods, storms, and vandalism. But the resilient gnomes have persevered, and new ones are being added to the collection by local and international visitors. Meanwhile, local news stations and bloggers from the region continue to cover the happenings at Gnomesville with a sense of wonder and childlike enthusiasm.

Gnomesville is located on the Eastern Junction Roundabout of Wellington Mill Road and Ferguson Road in Wellington Mill, Western Australia 6236. I have yet to travel to Australia and see Gnomesville for myself, but I hope to in the near future! In the meantime, you can keep up with what the red-hatted ones are doing by following their website and Facebook page.

If you’ve visited the gnomes of Gnomesville, please share your thoughts and photos with us!

The Strange Connection Between Opossums, Brazilian Folklore & Gnomes

Opossums, Brazilian folklore, and gnomes seem like three very different topics that should never be in the same sentence…let alone in a gnome newsletter. Right? Wrong! This gnome story takes us into the mysterious lands of the Amazon Rain Forest to make a scientific discovery of gnomish proportions.

A few months ago, a friend forwarded me a National Geographic article, titled “New Redheaded Opossum Named After Magical Gnome.” As a lover of both animals and gnomes, my interest was instantly piqued. A biologist in Brazil discovered a new species of opossum, but what makes this discovery so interesting is that the marsupial is named after a gnome.

The new opossum is called Monodelphis saci, and saci (pronounced sah-SEE) is a word that comes straight out of Brazilian folklore. Before this, I’ll admit that I didn’t know much about Brazilian folklore. But if gnomes were in it, I figured that I’d better broaden my horizons and learn something new!

Hunter-gatherer tribes roamed the lands of Brazil hundreds of years ago, passing folklore and tales down from one generation to the next. By way of colonization, these myths and legends changed shape and were influenced by African, Portuguese, Polish, and German settlers over time.

One such legends is about a Brazilian gnome known as a saci who wears a magical red cap. Saci Pererê is depicted as a gnome-like boy with one leg who is mischievous and even a bit of a con artist. In fact, his red hat helps him disappear and reappear whenever he likes! The legend says that your wish will be granted if you can grab the saci’s hat. But there’s a catch. The saci’s hat has a terrible smell that you may never be able to get off your hands!

All of this goes to show that gnomes don’t’ just exist in American, British, and German cultures…but diverse cultures from all around the world!

But back to that newly discovered opossum…

The Monodelphis saci species has a reddish head that resembles that hat that Saci Pererê wears in those epic Brazilian tales. Fortunately, the gnomish opossums are thriving in the wild and at no risk of extinction. Like all opossum species, they are nocturnal and able to adapt in a wide variety of conditions. Sounds a bit like our beloved gnomes, don’t you think?

I hope this story helps you remember how beautifully gnomes and animals live in harmony in our natural environment. What other animals remind you of gnomes?