I learned about FAST Corporation when I was researching and writing a newspaper story about a giant pink elephant. FAST stands for Fiberglass, Animals, Shapes and Trademarks and the company is one of a handful of businesses in America specializing in custom fiberglass molds.
You’ll find FAST Corporation in rural Sparta, Wisconsin, a town of about 10,000 that earned the nickname “Bicycling Capital of America” after it converted 32-miles of decommissioned railroad to pedestrian trail in 1967 (the Sparta-Elroy trail is considered the first “rail-to-trail” project in the U.S. and remains a popular route for bicycles, hikers, and equestrians).
Upon arriving, park in the gravel lot on the opposite side of this building noting FAST is a working business with large vehicles, dust, and employees who are on the clock and likely on a deadline. Read this sign:
Visitors: Please read before proceeding. You are welcome to walk around the yard looking at and photographing our fiberglass items AT YOUR OWN RISK!! Please be advised that there are some bee and wasp nests that spring up unannounced. Also, there might be sharp pieces or edges on some items, so it is best not to climb on things. Climbing on or touching the items may cause something to fall and injure you. We have a 14 page color brochure in the office that you may purchase for $5.oo. It has about 500 different items in it. Thank you, FAST Corporation.
FAST Corporation is best enjoyed in warmer weather and on a sunny day. Much of the experience involves wandering aimlessly through a large field of disassembled (and some assembled) molds. If you have bolting toddlers or individuals requiring steady footing, this is not the destination for you.
That said, if you’ve done a bit of traveling, you’ll start to see reminders of your travels. I immediately recognized the shoe in the photo above as a children’s playground slide near Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison. Many of the molds were used in “touristy” destinations like Rapid City/Mount Rushmore, Las Vegas, and The Wisconsin Dells.
If you’ve ever eaten at a Big Boy restaurant, you might recognize this guy! FAST Corporation made the three-story muskie guarding the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum in Hayward and a 30-foot replica of a human eyeball that made it’s 2010 debut on the Chicago Loop.
While purchasing a copy of the 14-page color brochure, I learned FAST Corporation has grown from 8 to 33 employees since 2003. While the company is facing competition from China, they specialize in one-of-a-kind projects and are seeing a trend in unique projects for small towns across America. It’s also no surprise Roadside America has a feature story on this attraction.
I know I’ve seen at least one of these cows—painted according to a unique theme—in more than one corner of the Midwest.
FAST Corporation also hosts group tours, which likely includes an explanation of the design-to-finishing process and a Q&A session on some of the company’s more unique and notable designs. In all, my self-guided exploration lasted about an hour. This is one bucket list destination I’m happy to cross off my list.
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