Today PZ Myers posted a link to an article about the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota. And I’m sort of Pavlovian about the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota: I cannot hear its named even mentioned without playing Weird Al’s classic tribute to it. And since every thought that goes through my head gets blogged, that means sharing it with you. Enjoy one of the classics of my childhood (and one of the songs on the very first CD I ever bought for myself! It was 1990 and the package was enormous, about twice the cost of a tape and I was only able to find it at a special store just for CD’s, which was like a crazy novelty back then—a record store with no tapes or records):
Some of the facts from the article about this historic monument.
For many years, the world’s largest twine ball has resided in Darwin, MN. It weighs 17,400 pounds, is twelve feet in diameter, and was the creation of Francis A. Johnson. He started wrapping it in March of 1950 — four hours a day, every day. Francis lifted it with a crane to continue proper wrapping. For 39 years, this magnificent sphere evolved at Johnson’s farm, and eventually moved to a circular open air shed on his front lawn.
Francis died in 1989; the city moved the ball into a special city lot across from the park. The gazebo that shelters it today allows viewing from all sides through Plexiglas panels, but you have to crouch close to a vent for a good whiff. The town’s “Twine Ball Days” festival is the second Saturday in August.
Frank Stoeber of Cawker City, KS, saw Johnson’s twine ball as a challenge. He started amassing his own ball, and soon had over 1,600,000 feet of twine rolled into a sphere 11 feet in diameter — only a foot shy of the Darwin champion. Success seemed inevitable. Then, in 1974, Frank Stoeber died.
Cawker City, in a touching tribute, built an open-air gazebo over his ball and set it up on Highway 24 in town, where it can still be touched and whiffed by travelers.