The Twine of a Town
Ball of Twine Stats: 17,797 pounds, 40 foot
Over 7,079,690 feet of sisal twine - that's
starts with the twine; but there's so much more.
north central Kansas town of 500 has something that
ties its community together — literally.
City, home of the world’s
largest ball of sisal twine, has drawn thousands
of people over the years to view this unique tourist
attraction. The ball of twine has also been mentioned
in Hollywood movies, national advertising, television
shows, and even radio shows.
laughed about this, but the ball of twine is what
"ties" the community together," Linda
Clover, current ball of twine caretaker, says. "There’s
so much seriousness in life, I figure we should
|Linda Clover’s son and
family in front of the famous Ball of Twine.
ball of twine dates back to 1953 when Frank Stoeber
started rolling spare twine into a ball on his farm.
By 1957 it weighed 5,000 pounds, stood 8 feet high
and had 1,175,180 feet of twine on it. Stoeber gave
the ball to Cawker City in 1961, well before his
death in 1974. The Cawker City Community Club is
the official owner/caretaker of the ball of twine.
As of January 2005, the ball weighed 17,797 pounds
and had 7,079,690 feet of twine.
says the ball of twine is fitting given the amount
of farming in the area. "There are still farmers
around who say they remember taking Frank extra
twine in their younger years," Clover says.
community gets many requests about the ball of twine,
and Linda answers many of those. "I care about
the community and that’s why I do so much
with the tourism. I love it," Clover says.
"I get many phone calls and e-mail requests
from all over for information. To some of those
people I have to first explain what twine is."
ball of twine has been around Cawker City long enough
that it sometimes gets taken for granted there,
but Clover says its uniqueness is not overlooked
people around here probably think it’s crazy,
but it’s so unique to people from other areas,"
Clover says. "We’re out in the open,
away from interstate, and people can have hands-on
contact with something."
and visitors can add twine at any time by contacting
Linda and her husband, Jack, ahead of time. An Annual
Twine-A-Thon also takes place each year and is the
official time to add more twine. A picnic and parade
are on the third Saturday in August, with the twine
winding being on Friday.
ball of twine has also inspired creation of the
Gallery Walk of Twine, which is a series of paintings
based on famous masterpieces that all incorporate
a ball of twine. These are exhibited in storefront
windows. Local resident Cher Olson, who assists
Linda Clover with community tourism duties, says
what started as a solution to fill up the windows
of vacant windows to spruce things up turned into
a community source of pride. There are now more
than 40 paintings scattered throughout the city,
almost all of which Olson painted.
here for a larger version)
an artist and it struck me that if we had "masterpieces"
it would be neat so the visitors from all over could
see we are worldly and not just some hicks,"
painting is Leonardo da Vinci’s "Mona
Lisa" holding a ball of twine. Another is Andy
Warhol’s "Campbell’s Soup Can"
as "Campbell’s Twine Soup."
"As an art educator it’s been ideal because
it’s been so educational for the community
to be exposed to different artists and styles,"
Olson, a former elementary art teacher, says.
here for a larger version)
connect everything together, a gold line painted
to resemble twine weaves up and down the sidewalk
in a section of downtown.
really neat to see people walk around and follow
the twine," Olson says. "The twine walk
and pictures definitely get people to stop and look
and see what we have in our community. We’re
trying to make it an attractive place to be."
has her own studio, Limestone Art Studio, which
is located across the street from the ball of twine.
She is also in the process of opening a Ball of
Twine Inn that is located beside the studio. She
has volunteered many hours painting the series for
the Gallery Walk of Twine, but says it has been
satisfying helping clean up the town.
interesting because it was kind of a chain reaction
as people saw us cleaning and adding these paintings
and doing things, others would get out and wash
windows and maybe even paint their building,"
Olson says. "Everyone’s helped with it
in some way and that is rewarding."
members agree the ball of twine is a source of pride
for Cawker City.
town has community pride and the ball of twine is
about 90 percent of that," Joan Wagner, local
resident, says. "No matter where you go, people
may not always have heard of Cawker City but they
have heard about the ball of twine.