History of the Ball of Twine
Cawker City’s world famous Ball of Twine was initially created in the hands of local farmer, Frank Stoeber, in 1953. Frank had not been well and decided that rolling his abundance of excess twine, saved from years of feeding his cows bales of hay, into a ball would be good exercise and a way to occupy his time. Thus, began the Ball of Twine.
As his project grew, Frank kept the Ball of Twine in his barn northeast of Cawker City. As his neighbors learned of this project they began sharing their twine with him. He kept careful record of the progress of the weight of the Ball as it grew, carefully weighing it regularly. At one point, the Ball was taken to the Mitchell County Fair, in Beloit, Kansas, where fair-goers made guesses as to its weight.
In 1961, outgrowing his barn, the Ball was brought to town for Cawker City’s Kansas Centennial parade. An obvious attraction, Stoeber asked if the city's Chamber of Commerce if they would be willing to build a shelter to house his ball along Wisconsin St. / U.S. Highway 24. The city agreed and the Ball found itself in a new home at its present location. Until his death in 1974, Frank continued adding twine to the Ball. After that, local citizens occasionally continued to add to the attraction.
Finally, the community decided the Ball of Twine was much too fun to have just sitting there on Wisconsin Street to look at and started having an annual Twine-a-thon on the 3rd week in August; the event coincides with Cawker’s annual City Picnic.
Today, visitors come from far and wide to have a part in making the Ball of Twine bigger. Twine (pre-measured and weighed) is provided to visitors who stop by year-round would who would like to add to the Ball that they might make their claim to fame for having added to the monstrosity. Visitors adding their own twine, yarn or string is prohibited and, if added, is discreetly removed so as to maintain the credibility of the Ball’s weight.
As well, if Linda notices when visitors stop at the Ball of Twine, she’ll drive right over and ask if you’d like to add to the ever growing ball. If so, she’ll open her trunk, pull out some twine, carefully record the amount and then you become part of history!
Where Exactly is the Ball of Twine Located?
You can’t miss it! As you enter Cawker City when traveling along U.S. Highway 24 from either direction, you’ll spot the Ball of Twine on the south side of the road after traveling about 400 yards.
How Big is the Ball of Twine?
The Ball was lifted and weighed with a crane in 1988 when it was put under the present shelter. At that time it weighed 14,687 pounds, was 40’ 3” in circumference and 11 feet tall. For the past several years the twine added to the Ball is first weighed and according to weight, the length is figured. In December, 2018, its weight is closely estimated to be 20,511 pounds! That’s 8,230,347 feet of sisal twine!
What is sisal twine?
The Ball contains only sisal twine. Sisal twine is made from the fibrous agave plant grown best in tropic or sub tropic areas. Sisal is best known and used for keeping small bales of hay together.