By Kristen Miller
DARWIN, MN Minn-e-Rods, pork chops, and live music are just a few of the highlights one will find at the 19th annual Darwin Twine Ball Celebration Saturday, Aug. 14 in downtown Darwin.
Each year, souped-up garden tractors pulling a weighted trailer draw quite a crowd of spectators in Darwin.
Nearly 2,500 people stand by and watch as participants as young as 5 years old compete to see who has the strongest garden tractor.
The event was originally organized by the late Jon Sprengeler, who wanted to bring his passion for tractor pulling to his hometown of Darwin.
This year’s Minn-e-Rods event will be dedicated to the memory of Sprengeler, who passed away Feb. 23 at the age of 56 after a two-year battle with cancer.
Sprengeler got his start pulling Out-of-Field class tractors in the late ‘70s with his uncle, Bud Hawes, according to Connie Walters, long-time friend of Sprengeler.
In the early ‘80s, Sprengeler scaled down to garden tractors, pulling a stock Bollin tractor, which he got from the late Eldon Rath, Walter’s father.
In 1994, Sprengeler joined the Minnesota Garden Tractor Pullers Association, now the Minn-e-Rods. He pulled in the “Just Maybe” team with Rath.
In 1998, Sprengeler went on to build his own tractor he called “Lil’ Nervous.” Why? “Because he would always shake in his boots before pulls because he was a lil’ nervous,” Walters said.
Sprengeler pulled for the last time in 2008, due to health issues.
Not only was Sprengeler involved in organizing the Minn-e-Rods each year at Twine Ball Day, but he also helped with the kids’ pedal pull, as well.
“He was a great man,” said Walters. “He was an inspiration and was always willing to help everyone else,” she added.
The Minn-e-Rods begin at 2:30 p.m. in downtown Darwin. Ear plugs are recommended, but not required.
A sand volleyball tournament sets off the day with registered teams beginning at 8 a.m. Call Jenny Smith at (320) 693-5902 for more information. Up to 12 teams can register, with a $50 registration fee and six pay-outs.
Kids can look forward to a pedal tractor pull starting at 10 a.m. Registration is at 9:30 a.m.
At 9 a.m., visitors can check out the vendors of crafts and collectibles located on the north side of the park. For more information, call Janice Maher at (320) 699-0368.
The Darwin Lions Club will be serving hamburgers, brats, and beverages beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Bring a lawn chair or pull up to a curb and watch as area floats, antique tractors and cars, local royalty, horses, and more pass through, tossing treats, beginning at 12:30 p.m.
For entry to the parade, contact Patti Burdick at (320) 693-2708.
See exactly what the event is named after by visiting the Twine Ball Museum, which is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
At 4 p.m., the barbecue pork chop dinner begins featuring chops from the Darwin Freezer. Serving will go until 7 p.m.
Tickets are $8 and includes a pork chop, potato salad, baked beans, roll, and beverage.
Stay for musical entertainment by Backroads, which will be performing from 7 to 11 p.m.
Raffle drawings will take place at 8:30 p.m., with the first prize of $200, a second prize of $100, four $50 prizes, and four $25 prizes.
All proceeds from the event go to Darwin Tourism and Promotional Fund.