Absurdity might be Rudyard’s greatest claim to fame. If you’ve traveled along US Highway 2, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the town’s welcome sign, which reads “596 Nice People–1 Old Sore Head!” That isn’t an empty jest; elections are held regularly to determine exactly who that “old sore head” is. (In 2017, NBC Nightly News even covered the election of Rudyard’s honorable grump.)
But the whimsy doesn’t end there.
Citizens joke that Rudyard is a bust town—yet they live defiantly as if it were booming. They hold community get-togethers, softball tournaments, and parades. They watch movies at their vintage theatre. They find new ways to amuse themselves… and visitors.
The Rudyard Museum—which is something of a misnomer; it does, after all, encompass seven separate buildings—is probably the community’s most notable tourist attraction. In 2018, it opened its newest exhibit, a 40-by-80-foot building containing antique farm equipment from the 1900s. In fact, all of the artifacts on display are dated within forty years of Rudyard’s founding (in 1910). The exhibit includes haying equipment, planters, sleighs, and even a barbed wire collection. A 1940s air reel holds special significance, as it was patented by a Rudyard inventor. A handful of locals have also meticulously restored the exhibit’s tractors; they went so far as to hunt down the original paint colors.
As the antique farm equipment exhibit opens for the first time, other exhibits have received a facelift for the 2018 summer season. The Dinosaur Museum, for instance, was revitalized with guidance from Liz Freeman, a doctor of paleontology. New displays have been added to the exhibit, which includes an articulated Gryposaur—“Rudyard’s oldest sore head.”