iN VIDEO: Kelowna’s iconic Forty Foot Fred was actually a ‘lawn ornament’ | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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iN VIDEO: Kelowna’s iconic Forty Foot Fred was actually a ‘lawn ornament’

This is from a souvenir placemat from Flintstones Bedrock City in Kelowna
Image Credit: Submitted/Sherry Huether
May 29, 2021 - 7:30 AM

From 1969 to 1998 one of the most recognizable features of Kelowna was a plywood structure that became known as Forty Foot Fred.

Built at the corner of Highway 97 and McCurdy Road, it marked the entrance to Flintstones Bedrock City, created by Gary and Simonne Bones.

“I remember my dad being so upset with the District of Kelowna because they wouldn’t let him put up signage,” daughter Sherry Huether told iNFOnews.ca. “But, he was allowed to have lawn ornaments, so that’s what Forty Foot Fred became. He was a lawn ornament.

“You’ll notice there was no wording on it but he was pointing to where the entrance was. That’s how he got around that regulation. He thought it was quite funny.”

Image Credit: Susan Forster/Old Kelowna

While Fred was created to be pointing to the entrance, most people saw him as giving the thumbs-up sign.

Regardless, Fred made the park easy to find when it opened in 1970.

“Just being really busy,” Huether, who worked at the park from about the age of nine to 13, described as her favourite memory. “Seeing so many people come through. They would be lined up out the door all day. It was just incredible how busy it was. People from all over having fun.”

Her dad was an architect and an artist. He decided he wanted to build the theme park so they headed to South Dakota to get permission from Hanna-Barbera before starting construction in 1969, opening the next summer.

This video was posted to YouTube by Shelly Wutke and was shot in 1980, after the Bones family sold it.

Flintstones Bedrock City was based on the Hanna-Barbera cartoon show, The Flintstones, that ran 166 episodes from 1960-66.

The original Bedrock City was built in Custer, South Dakota. It opened on 30 acres in 1966. It was taken down in 2019 to make room for more camping spaces in what, by that time, had become a major campground.

Another Bedrock City was built near Williams, AZ, not far from the Grand Canyon, in 1972. It, too, closed in 2019.

Flintstones Bedrock City in Kelowna seems to be the only licenced operation in Canada. A former employee from there did build a Bedrock City at Bridal Falls, near Hope in 1975. He was forced by Hanna-Barbera to change its name and called it Dinotown. It closed in 2010.

For Bones, building Kelowna’s Bedrock City required a lot of creativity and innovation.

This is the original sketch of the layout for Bedrock City.
This is the original sketch of the layout for Bedrock City.
Image Credit: Submitted/Sherry Huether

“Most of the concrete people in Kelowna, at that time, they thought he was crazy,” Huether said. “He wanted to blow it on these buildings and he thought there should be a way to do that and they went, no, no, no. But he did find one that agreed and away they went and that’s what they did, they created these buildings and had the mesh on the outside and they blew the concrete onto it. That was pretty cool. He was the first one to come up with that.”

Bones also experimented with different types of foam in order to carve pieces for the various buildings, using resins and fibreglass and things that probably wouldn’t be allowed today, Huether said.

Poster from Bedrock City's early days.
Poster from Bedrock City's early days.
Image Credit: Submitted/Sherry Huether

“Every year, when my parents owned it, they upgraded and made changes, so it made it new for people to come back,” she said. “Every year it changed. The boat ride changed. The mini-golf grew. The train ride changed. Every year he added a few more things.”

The family lived the first couple of years in a small house in the parking lot but had to relocate to make room for more parking.

“We had great staff parties in the park,” Huether said. “At one point there were up to 60 kids working there – most were kids but some of them might have been in their 20s. He put on the best staff parties, later in the year. He’d bring in Chinese food. We even had bands. We got to go and use the park ourselves, so it was a lot of fun.”

Things changed for the park when Bones sold it in 1976.

“The new owner didn’t do anything,” Huether said. “He just left it the way it was and kind of let it run down over the years.”

She recalled the new owner also owned the water slides next door but doesn’t think it was R.J. Bennett, who became the final owner, because she knew the Bennett family.

She said her father sold it because, “it was time” and he wanted to create a new theme park, a haunted manor in Penticton. He had created about three-quarters of the characters for the manor but, his new wife fell ill and that project died.

Flintstones Bedrock City closed in Kelowna in 1998 partly due to the fact that it was old and needed significant repairs but also because of a licencing dispute with Hanna-Barbera.

“They wanted a lot,” Mary Jean Bennett told iNFOnews.ca in 2016. “They wanted as much as they could get, basically, in the end they just cancelled it.”

It was in 2016 that the remains of Forty Foot Fred was found in a field near Kelowna Airport.

READ MORE: Forty Foot Fred found on farm

Forty Foot Fred after being found in 2016.
Forty Foot Fred after being found in 2016.
Image Credit: Troy Grover/Old Kelowna

At the time, R.J. Bennett planned to salvage the remains and reconstruct him, but that dream was over by last year when Bennett’s family talked him out of the project. All that is left now, he said, is the forty foot steel pole.

READ MORE: Kelowna’s Forty Foot Fred is gone for good

Now, the only thing left to honour the Flintstones is Freddy’s Brewpub built on the site and carrying Fred’s name.

Bennett said he still has some of the dinosaurs and other figures from the park that he hoped to restore.

Finding such remnants was Huether’s reason for contacting iNFOnews.ca and telling her father’s story.

“I would love to talk to the folks that say they have some items from Flintstones,” she said in an email.

She can be contacted by email at cvv@shaw.ca.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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