biggest ball of twine

Which State Really Has the World's Largest Ball of Twine?

Don't you love going on road trips and finding the most quirky roadside attractions? The world's biggest beagle, pistachio, baseball bat, lightbulb — you name it (those are all real by the way). There's pretty much anything you could think of that's been supersized into a tourist spot. Did you know that multiple places in the United States claim to have the world's largest ball of twine

A big ball of twine might not be something you'd expect people to work on for decades, but you'll be shocked at what four people were able to pull off. According to an article in The Atlantic, the average twine ball is over 36 feet in circumference!

Here are the four spots around the country that have giant twine balls that you can visit in person.

1. Cawker City, Kansas

A man by the name of Frank Stoeber was on a mission to make a seriously impressive ball of twine. With 1.6 million feet of twine, he was able to make a massive ball that was a whopping 11 feet in diameter. After he passed away, the town built a gazebo around the twine to honor his memory. Every August, a "Twine-A-Thon" brings everyone together to add to the giant ball. As of 2014, it was measured at 41.42 feet and is estimated to weigh 20,000 lbs. 

2. Darwin, Minnesota

Francis A. Johnson was able to pull off the largest ball of twine made by one man. In 1950, he started spending four hours a day working on this ball of twine. Every. Single. Day. Twenty-nine years later, he ended up with a ball 12 feet in diameter and nearly 18,000 lbs. The second Saturday of August in Darwin has even been named "Twine Ball Day." The ball is being protected in a pagoda on Main Street, so any photo ops are on the other side of the glass. It's probably the most famous of the four big twine balls after being mentioned in the "Weird Al" Yankovic song "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota."

3. Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin

James Frank Kotera may not have made the largest twine ball, but he's definitely got the heaviest. He started working on this ball of twine back in 1979 and is still going strong. As of 2018, "JFK" had gotten his twine over 21,000 lbs.  

4. Branson, Missouri

It seems the Midwest is really passionate about having the biggest ball of twine. J.C. Payne used nylon to create what was the largest ball of twine in the 1994 Guinness Book of World Records. The ball, with a diameter of 41.5 feet, is now housed in Branson's Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum.

Where is the World's Largest Ball of Twine?

So which state really has the World's Largest Twine Ball? That's where it gets complicated. It's an ongoing rivalry between citizens of each town and each twine ball boasts a distinction that sets it apart from the others. For example, the twine ball in Darwin, Minnesota remains the largest made by one man,  even if the ball in Kansas has overtaken it in size.

While there's still controversy over who can really lay claim to the world's largest ball of twine, we can't wait to visit all four of these quirky roadside attractions.

This story originally ran on May 26, 2020.

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