Suggested prereading: Clearly I’ll Do Anything for a Post: Visiting the Spam® Museum

The last time I did something local and inane for a post, it involved a series of mini-fails that netted me sunburn, windburn, and multi-flavored case of Spam®. It wasn’t all bad, though. The husband added some levity to the trip home by playing every Weird Al song ever recorded. Though familiar with such classics as Eat It, Like a Surgeon, and Yoda, it was my first time hearing The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota. Full of pride at introducing me to this melodic masterpiece, the husband made a promise—nay, a vow—to one day make a pilgrimage to gaze upon the wondrous orb.

A National Lampoon movie could – and should – be based on this song

That day came this summer when the husband announced he was cycling to Darwin, Minnesota, home of the very twine ball that Mr. Yankovic launched into worldwide renown. Cringing at the need for at least four hours of saddle time just to get there, I immediately volunteered to “drive support,” by which I meant I would meet him there in my car and give his aching ass a ride home.

Whatever floats your boat, I guess . . .

Our jaunt was planned for a random Tuesday, but the weekend prior, while researching some twine ball logistics online, I came across an important nugget of information: if we waited until the following Saturday, we would be there on the day of—brace yourself—Darwin’s annual Twine Ball Festival!

So naturally, we waited.

Mark your calendar

On the big day, I mistimed my drive and ended up in Darwin a good hour ahead of the husband. This was ok because it gave me time to gape at the twine ball and then stand in a long line and ponder which local delicacy to sample.

I also had time to experience several things besides twine balls that I don’t normally encounter in my day-to-day metropolitan life, namely mullets, cigarette smoke, and signs for conservative politics.

In Darwin, kids are indoctrinated early. This stand offers reasonably priced lemonade and freezies, but the Democratic governor bashing is free of charge.

The parade included everything you would expect in a small town production: a random assortment of beauty queens, dairy ambassadors, political hopefuls, four-wheelers, churches, and gun lovers.

And tractors.  So many tractors.

Then, just as my parade fatigue was starting to kick in, the husband arrived.

This big city interloper was planning to join the parade’s second go-’round if I hadn’t shown up just then. And note the suspicious look the driver is giving me. I’ll bet he can spot a no-good city slicker at 20 paces.

Risking another public indecency citation like the one we courted outside the Spam® Museum, the husband changed in the car, after which I proudly took him around and showed him Darwin’s delights.

In a monumental Travel Architect planning fail, I completely missed the existence of the Twine Ball Inn right on the main street, otherwise we might have spent the night.

I’m thinking it’s gotta be at least four stars

So instead of checking in at the inn, we checked out the museum.

Filled with nothing but frankenfood after his long ride, the husband was hankering for a real meal. V’s Grill & Pub seemed as good a place as any, especially given the international menu.

I like those prices

But V’s interpretation of the iconic British dish was a little different from what we’re used to.

An analogy for Darwinians: chips are to fries as crisps are to chips

Chuckling at our small town lost-in-translation dining experience, we exited the restaurant to the noise and smell of my first ever tractor pull.

About eight seconds was all I could take of this sensory face-slap

Gasping for diesel-free air, we high-tailed it away from this popular event and made for the car, passing some of the other big draws of the Twine Ball Festival.

Driving home, we were overcome by a powerful urge to watch Drop Dead Gorgeous, the hilarious Minnesota-based mockumentary about a small-town beauty pageant that “turns deadly as it becomes clear that someone will go to any lengths to win.”

So good. So funny. So small town Minnesota.

Laughing along with the familiar-to-us plot twists and smiling knowingly at its reference to the Twine Ball—which the producers placed in fictional “Bundy, Minnesota,” presumably to avoid a New Line Cinema vs Twine Ball Custodians of Greater Darwin lawsuit—we knew we’d found the perfect end to a perfectly nutty day.

Now, if I can just keep Akeley, Minnesota, with its annual Paul Bunyan Days and “World’s Largest” Paul Bunyan statue off the husband’s radar, I can put an end to these “Clearly I’d Do Anything . . . ” posts.

36 thoughts

  1. He came. He saw. He bought the tee shirt.
    I have to say I’m a little disappointed the twine festival wasn’t more… twiney. And from the look of that meal and the inn, I think it’s a good thing you didn’t spend the night.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is nothing quite like any small town festival and this one is a treasure. I’m glad you had the experience, happy you weren’t staying there, and would suggest that the man’s hairstyle is his attempt at the Dorothy Hamill wedge style that was popular way back when.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Haha! Being from small-town Saskatchewan, Canada, I could identify with many of the festival’s events. I was laughing all the way through this post! Entertaining, well-written, and great photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! It looks like an entertaining day if nothing else. What’s with the people holding Amazon and other cardboard boxes on the Concrete Products float? Any idea what that was about or just another thing you shake your head at?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fish and Chips are my husband’s favorite and he often orders them if he sees them on the menu, no matter where we are… big mistake. When we were just outside of Zion National Park in Utah, he got a plate that looked very much like your husband’s. Note to American restaurants: “fish” are not fish sticks, “chips” are not potato chips. It’s a wonder your husband hasn’t fled back across the pond.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Looks like a fun time! It’s quite disconcerting, though, to see first-hand the conservative politics, but given that it’s in Middle America, it shouldn’t be surprising! I would definitely go for those cheese curds, as they’re a rarity in Los Angeles, as well as fish n’ chips!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Don’t you just love small-town festivals, especially if they involve cheese curds which are something we rarely see in Ireland and a giant ball of twine? I have to say that the ball itself is a colossal monument, representing a massive cumulative investment of time, attention, and resources on the part of its creator. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sadly, here’s what a local newspaper reported about the death of the man who made the twine ball: Johnson died of emphysema in 1989. He was a lifelong nonsmoker, so they say it was not cigarettes but nearly 30 years’ worth of baler twine dust collected in his lungs that took his life.


  8. I love everything about this post. This is exactly the type of crazy thing I’d do…not just for my blog, but for the hell of it! Googling distance to Darwin, MN now.

    5.5 hours. Very do-able. And now I know where to stay!

    I’m a big Weird Al fan, but even I didn’t know that song. So much fun. And good on you for choosing the cheese curds.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This post is hilarious and I love everything about it! I so appreciate that you do these things so your dear devoted readers don’t have to. You are a hero to us all!!

    Honestly, quite often people ask us – almost accusatorily – why we love cities so much. From now on, I am handing them this post.


    Liked by 1 person

  10. I would’ve gone to this in a heartbeat, especially for my blog! We’ve got a giant roller skate near us that you can visit, but I think the giant ball of twine festival is way cooler. Fried cheese curds also looked delicious. I need to try some at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

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