'It cut like a knife': Town shocked after thieves take literal fork in the road
Patron, sculptor say they plan to replace the piece of public art — but hope it's returned
A three-metre-tall fork sculpture that brought whimsy to a rural intersection in Frankville, Ont., has disappeared after thieves apparently pried it from its base and made off with it.
The piece, titled "Fork in the Road," was commissioned by local resident Bill Gibbons in 2019 just before he transformed his maple syrup farm into an art gallery.
Gibbons said he used to give directions to people driving up Kitley Line 8 Road to stay left at the metaphorical fork in the road and take Leacock Road.
Adding the stainless steel monument, he said, helped drive the point home.
The sculpture was put up in a spirit of fun, Gibbons said, and he's struggling to understand why anybody would swipe it.
"One person suggested ... that somebody did it on a dare," Gibbons said. "It's really hard to know. I don't think the stainless steel is worth enough in the scrapyard to make it worth the effort."
Just over a week ago, Gibbons said the sculpture had been bent back, leaving it almost parallel with the road in what seemed to be the first attempt to remove it.
Gibbons said whoever made off with it the second time around likely had both tools and a bit of help.
Sculptor Chris Banfalvi, who created the piece from a single sheet of stainless steel, said he was attracted by the idea of bringing a scene in The Muppets Movie into the real world.
While he's disappointed by the vandalism and theft, Banfalvi said he's also been heartened by the outpouring of support from the community.
"People were keeping it quiet to themselves how much they were enjoying it. But now we're really hearing how much people love the piece," Banfalvi said.
Leeds County OPP say they were first notified of the vandalism on March 9 and are now investigating the disappearance.
Const. Erin Cranton said people can contact police if they have information about the theft or possible suspects.
Sculpture will return — in some form
Elizabethtown-Kitley Mayor Brant Burrow said the sculpture marked the start of a public art tour of the municipality and its loss is a big disappointment.
"When I first got the news that the fork was gone, it cut like a knife," Burrow told CBC's As It Happens.
He said he hasn't had a chance to talk to council yet, but he does want the fork returned — or another piece of art to go up in its place.
"I'm pretty confident in saying that at some point in the future, there's going to be another utensil there. This community does not have to move forward without a fork in the road."
LISTEN | Mayor Brant Burrow speaks to CBC's As It Happens about the fork theft
As for Gibbons and Banfalvi, they've heard offers to help fund a replacement for the sculpture — which cost more than $3,000 in materials and labour — and install it on a more solid footing.
Both say they'd like the original to be returned.
"Every morning, I sort of hope that during the night whoever took it decided to bring it back and drop it off," Gibbons said. "It's not really much use to anybody, in my mind, except here as a fork in the road."
With files from CBC's As It Happens