The second Saturday in August, Darwin’s downtown is abuzz with visitors from near and far who come to celebrate the largest ball of twine made by one man.
At press time, the 28th annual Darwin Twine Ball Celebration is set for Saturday, August 8, 2020. Traditionally, the event features a parade, craft fair, sand volleyball tournament, pork chop dinner, opportunities to tour the Twine Ball Museum, and live music in the park.
The schedule typically includes a 5K run, called the Twine-K, a 17,400-foot (3.3-mile) run to celebrate the 17,400-pound ball of twine.
One of the top attractions during the event is the Minnesota Minn-e-Rods tractor pull, which takes place on Main Street in Darwin. Here, competitors of all ages vie to see who has the strongest lawn tractor.
The Darwin Twine Ball Celebration also includes raffle drawings with cash prizes, food vendors, and kids’ games in the park.
Darwin’s Twine Ball Museum
The Darwin Museum is most commonly known as the home of the largest ball of twine made by one man. The museum, however, has many more items that help tell the story of the small town.
Museum visitors will get to view the twine ball at close range in its sealed gazebo on the museum’s front lawn. They will also see many Darwin artifacts as part of an exhibit on Darwin town baseball.
Darwin was once quite a baseball town, with nearly 1,000 fans showing their support at each hometown game.
Possibly the most legendary in Darwin’s baseball history are two of its own players – Fred “Lefty” Miller and Milt Goemer, who went off to play professional baseball.
In August 2011, a painting titled “Lefty Miller on the Mound,” painted by Lavona Keskey, was donated to the museum and city. It portrays the July 4, 1908, double-header game when Miller pitched a four-hit shutout for the St. Paul Saints, defeating the Minneapolis Millers 3-0 at Lexington Park in St. Paul.
Pictures of the town’s teams can be seen in an exhibit, along with baseball uniforms, and the Goemer MVP trophy and ring.
The famous Darwin Twine Ball
What truly put Darwin on the map, bringing thousands of visitors from around the world to town each year, has been its famous ball of twine.
Spreading the word even further has been father and daughter filmmakers KC and Bryan Duggan, who completed a documentary based on the 8.7-ton world-renowned attraction.
The hour-and-18-minute-long documentary highlights Francis Johnson, the creator of the original largest ball of twine, and the two other balls of twine that have competed for the same notoriety.
Johnson, who was the son of US congressman Magnus Johnson, wound his first piece of baler twine in March 1950.
As the ball grew, Johnson could no longer wrap the twine by hand and had to use large railroad jacks that were built to lift boxcars, to move the ball of twine.
The twine ball was completed in 1979, and was subsequently recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest ball of twine.
The famous orb weighs 8.7 tons, is 11 feet high, and measures 40 feet in diameter. Although it’s still the largest ball of twine made by one man, it was removed from the Guinness Book in 1994. The Darwin twine ball was replaced in the book by a ball of plastic twine made by several people, and weighing considerably less.
Every summer the town celebrates what it’s most famous for with Twine Ball Day, featured the second Saturday in August.
The museum is open during the Twine Ball Day celebration, and by appointment. Those interested in visiting the museum may contact Chris Hansen at 320-275-4016.