Newest member of the Popeye Character Trail is unveiled

By Jim Beers, Contributing Writer

      CHESTER — Chester has a new son. 

His name is Harold Hamgravy and he is the 28th character on the popular Popeye & Friends Character Trail which runs throughout the City of Chester. 

The trail is coordinated by Chester resident Mike McClure, and each year since its inception in 2006 a new granite statue representing Elzie Segar’s creations that were featured in the Popeye cartoon strips has been added to the trail.

The previous 27 characters on the trail and their years of installation include: 1. Popeye (1977), 2. Wimpy (2006), 3. Olive, Swee’Pea & Eugene the Jeep (2007), 4. Bluto (2008), 5. Castor Oyl & Whiffle Hen (2009), 6. Sea Hag & Bernard (2010), 7. Cole Oyl (2011), 8. Alice the Goon & her Child (2012), 9. Poopdeck Pappy (2013), and 10. Professor Wotasnozzle (2014).

The most recent characters include: 11. Roughhouse (2015), 12. Popeye’s Four Nephews (2016), 13. King Blozo (2017), 14. Nana Oyl (2018), 15. Popeye’s Pups (2019), 16. Sherlock & Segar (2019), and 17. Toar (2020).

Harold Hamgravy was unveiled Saturday at 11 a.m.

Hamgravy is the 18th location on the Popeye Character Trail.  He stands at the corner of State and Taylor Streets in Chester. Taylor Street runs in front of the Randolph County Courthouse. 

Hamgravy was erected on the corner in front of the Fisher, Kerkhover, Coffey, & Gremmels Law Offices.  In actuality, the foundation for the 3-ton statue is located on the property of the Law Offices and the local attorneys have graciously welcomed the installation and permanent fixture.

History tells us that Hamgravy and Olive Oyl were the first two characters created by Elzie C. Segar on December 19, 1919 for his Thimble Theatre.  Hamgravy was the first fiancée of Olive Oyl.  Her statue (2007) rests across the street from Harold Hamgravy on the corner of the Randolph County Courthouse parking lot. 

The two characters appear to be located at an angle so that they are not looking directly at each other, but could take a glance at each other if they choose to do so.

At the unveiling approximately 30 people were in attendance including Project Coordinator Mike McClure, Mayor Tom Page and several of his City Hall staff, Attorneys Jeff Kerkhover, Jason Coffey and Jordan Gremmels with their staff, and various community members and sponsors of the Hamgravy statue.

Harold Hamgravy arrived in Chester Wednesday October 13 at approximately 10:30 a.m.

The concrete foundation for the statue was poured by City of Chester employees in early September and by October 13 it was ready to host Hamgravy.

Lager Monument Company in Breeze, Illinois, and his employees put the finishing touches on the installation of the Harold Hamgravy statue. Jim Beers Photo 

The 3-ton statue was created by Lager Monument Company of Breeze, Illinois.  Lager employees, under the direct supervision of owner, Jerry Lager, delivered the statue of Hamgravy, and Kurt Schroeder of Red Dot Construction handled the lifting of the statue from the Lager truck onto the base.

The statue of Hamgravy is unloaded from the truck of Lager Monument Company by Kurt Schroeder of Red Dot Construction and carefully placed on its base.  Jim Beers Photos

After approximately a two-hour painstaking, extremely careful process of attaching Hamgravy to the base, another 30-minute clean-up process was necessary before McClure could carefully wrap a huge tarp around the statue to protect it until the unveiling on Saturday October 13th.

Mayor Tom Page, and attorneys Jeff Kerkhover, Jason Coffey (back) and Jordan Gremmels at the unveiling of the 18th statue on the Popeye Character Trail Saturday October 16.  The status sits on the corner of the Law Offices of Fischer, Kerkhover, Coffey and Gremmels.  The attorneys provided the space for the installation of the statue and have welcomed the arrival of Harold Hamgravy.  Don Berry Photo 

At the unveiling, Mayor Page and McClure made comments, after which the huge, blue tarp was removed to announce the official arrival of Harold Hamgravy and welcome him to the City of Chester.

Mike McClure with Harold Hamgravy statue

McClure said, “I can’t express how grateful I am for the many sponsors of the ongoing Popeye & Friends Character Trail.  Without them and their faithful, generous support, the continued expansion of the trail would not be possible. As long as the public’s interest and encouragement remains strong, the Popeye & Friends Character Trail will continue to expand. Each year our display of statues brings thousands of visitors to our City, and these tourists spend their money here, resulting in a incredibly large increase in tax revenues for the region. In the past decade alone, we’ve had visitors from 91 different countries and all 50 states. Our annual addition to the Trail keeps Chester and its favorite son, Popeye, in the public’s eye, and promotes our City as a must-see destination.”

The finished product after installation: Harold Hamgravy the 18th statue on the Popeye Character Trail


“An added benefit to sponsoring a statue is that for as little as little as a $150 sponsorship, donors get their names or businesses permanently engraved in granite.  Other types of advertising can cost much the same, but they vanish soon after the sponsored event ends.  Donations to the Trail provide great opportunities to have a lasting remembrance etched in stone that will be seen by all generations that follow.”


The 2022 statue will honor Oscar and that 29th character on the Popeye & Friends Character Trail will be installed at Cole memorial Park in Chester.  The exact location and date is still to be determined.