Jimmer De Groot strikes a pose à la George Stephen — the inventor of the Weber kettle — with his 26-inch Copper Mist Chief grill on March 31 near the Grotto sign on U.S. 2 between Baring and Skykomish. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Jimmer De Groot strikes a pose à la George Stephen — the inventor of the Weber kettle — with his 26-inch Copper Mist Chief grill on March 31 near the Grotto sign on U.S. 2 between Baring and Skykomish. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Why are there 24 Weber grills lined up on the highway to Stevens Pass?

Just ask Jimmer De Groot. He expresses his love of grills through his art. And it’s now a bit of an obsession.

BARING — Daily Herald reader Kathy Nysether emailed wondering what’s up with the kettle grills lined up near the Grotto sign on U.S. 2 leading to Stevens Pass.

“There must be 25 or more of them. They are in all different colors and they seem to be reproducing,” she wrote. “When we drive by we make up scenarios about them lol!”

Seemed a good reason to make the 45-mile drive from Everett.

Well, Kathy, it’s not a cook-off contest or a fire sale or other plots you imagined.

These grills are yard art.

What’s up with that?

The charcoal grills, all made by Weber, belong to Jimmer De Groot, who lives on the property.

There are 24 Webers. Or 25, if you count his dog, Weber.

Twenty-three Weber kettle grills stretch along the side yard of Jimmer De Groot’s home on U.S. 2 near the Grotto sign between Baring and Skykomish. The 24th grill was on De Groot’s back porch, ready for his next meal. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Twenty-three Weber kettle grills stretch along the side yard of Jimmer De Groot’s home on U.S. 2 near the Grotto sign between Baring and Skykomish. The 24th grill was on De Groot’s back porch, ready for his next meal. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

De Groot always uses Webers to cook, as does his dad.

“They’re just good cookers,” he said.

One Weber led to another and another.

“Some people collect faucet turner-oners. Some collect spoons,” De Groot said. “I kind of got a fever.”

A tattoo of a Weber kettle on his hand depicts his devotion.

Jimmer De Groot’s Weber grill tattoo catches the sun as he grabs the lid of one of his two-dozen grills. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Jimmer De Groot’s Weber grill tattoo catches the sun as he grabs the lid of one of his two-dozen grills. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

“Some I had to look long and hard to find,” he said. “Some are from 1973, the year I was born. They started making them in 1952.”

As his gaggle of grills grew, he ran out of room on the back porch. So he used the side yard for artistic expression.

“I’ve got to put them somewhere. Why not put them there?” he said. “I like for people to be able to see it.”

The art also serves to mask the old vehicles the landlord keeps in back of the lot.

“Draw more attention to the pretty stuff,” he said.

His Weber lineup includes mainly 22-inch grills, with a few 18-inchers and 26-inchers, and special editions such as the Schmidt’s Beer branded top.

“You got cookers and you got lookers,” he said.

Jimmer De Groot stands along the line of Weber grills in his side yard. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Jimmer De Groot stands along the line of Weber grills in his side yard. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

The grills aren’t used for cooking when on display. That’s only done on his back porch, where he keeps one grill at a time.

“I rotate a different one up every once in a while,” he said.

What’s for dinner — or breakfast or lunch — varies.

“I make brisket, pulled pork. I’ve done weird stuff like bacon-wrapped Oreos,” he said. “I’ve wrapped little baby pickles in bacon. If you can cook it in an oven, you can cook it on a grill.”

Check out his scrumptious photos on Instagram @skybbqman.

Not everything cooked on a Weber is for eating.

“See that big round ball hanging off the porch? That’s a Weber bug zapper,” De Groot said. “Mosquitoes catch on fire when they go in there.”

No Weber ever dies here.

“Two from the boneyard are used for planters by the front steps,” he said.

The art installation is a work in progress.

“There are certain ones I’m after. I know people who have twice that many,” he said.

He belongs to Weber fan groups. A Homer Simpson Weber is on his radar.

“In 2000, they came out with the 20th anniversary for ‘The Simpsons,’ a yellow grill that has Homer on it,” he said. “There’s one on eBay new in the box. The guy wants two grand. That’s pricey for me.”

He lost count of how much he has invested.

“That brown one I paid $400 for, but it was in Chicago so it was another $400 to ship it,” he said. “It’s my prized possession.”

The grills are on wheels. Someone could roll one away.

He isn’t worried about theft.

“We watch out for each other up here,” he said. “It’s not Gold Bar. We just don’t put up with that.”

Weber, Jimmer De Groot’s 6-year-old dog, stands just beyond the line of Weber grills in the side yard of his home. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Weber, Jimmer De Groot’s 6-year-old dog, stands just beyond the line of Weber grills in the side yard of his home. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

In addition:I got a camera on them,” he said.

De Groot, 51, was a hardwood floor installer for 23 years. It took a toll on his body, so he took breaks to be a ski bum, make nachos at Stevens Pass and travel to national parks as a cook. He works at LouSkis Deli, about 4 miles away in Skykomish.

“When I moved up here there were four Jims. So they just called me Jimmer,” he said. “It stuck.”

He moved from Skykomish to the Baring address about a year ago. Baring is an unincorporated community in King County of about 255 people, just south of the county line.

The Grotto sign by the road in front of the Weber display is an attraction in itself. The sign hangs above a large monument that reads “Safety Follows Wisdom” and is engraved with shirtless Olympian deities.

The markers were first made in 1924 by the Portland Cement Association for perfect safety records at cement plants. The design is by the Art Institute of Chicago.

Other “Safety Follows Wisdom” monuments can be found in states including New York, Texas, California and Oregon. There is one in Concrete in Skagit County.

According to a citation on hmdb.org, a historical marker database: “Wisdom is depicted as a nude female figure, probably intended to represent Athena, holding a lighted lamp from antiquity. She is followed by a nude male figure representing Safety. He carries a rudimentary cogwheel.”

Why this monument is here, along a mountainous stretch of highway, is a What’s Up With That? story for another day.

Is there a person, place or thing making you wonder “What’s Up With That?” Contact reporter Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @reporterbrown.

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