Luke Olsen, 35, was allegedly caught on security camera footage approaching the statue in the town of Janesville with a gas can.
Investigators say Mr Olsen, who also lives in the area, lit a fire and walked away but was seen returning moments later when it went out.
He is accused of then lighting a second fire that destroyed the statue, leaving only a metal frame left standing.
Police say that Mr Olsen’s wallet was found at the scene of the arson and that when they searched his home they found clothes similar to that worn by the person in the video, and his shoes smelled of gasoline.
A Janesville icon was destroyed by fire and a suspected arsonist has been charged. https://t.co/hBJB5tkGIG
— Mankato Free Press (@Mankatonews) June 14, 2021
He was charged with felony counts of arson and damage to property in Waseca County District Court, and has denied starting the fire.
Signs, flowers and cards have been left at the site of the incident, which took place in the early hours of Saturday.
The statue, which is worth $14,000, has been displayed in the town by Mark and Vicki Borneke since 2012, after they bought it at auction.
It used to be part of a Halloween attraction in the state’s Twin Cities region, before being sold off.