Making rope

Larry Hecht and Albert Van Holland demonstrate how to make rope during a previous Lyon County Fair.

ROCK RAPIDS—Lyon Coun­­ty Fair patrons have the chance to see how certain things were made in the past.

The Lyon County Historical Society will provide free demonstrations 1-8 p.m. daily July 22-24 in the Round Barn on the fairgrounds.

Albert Van Holland, the curator of the Lyon County Historical Society and Depot Museum, said the demonstrations during the fair have been going on for years and have been the same subjects for a long time:

  • Making ole bolen. Also spelled oliebolen, this is a Dutch doughnut with raisins. After it is fried it is served with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar.
  • Making spec ’n’ dicken. Also spelled specken dicken, this is a German pancake traditionally served on New Year’s Day for good luck. The pancakes are made with anise, rye flour and meat such as bacon or bologna.
  • Making lefse. This is a Norwegian potato flatbread, similar to a tortilla. It is commonly served with butter, cinnamon and sugar.
  • Making butter.
  • Making rope.
  • Pulling taffy.
  • Spinning, tatting, knitting and quilting.
  • Pottery.

“We spend an hour on each one,” Van Holland said.

He will demonstrate the ole bolen, spec ’n’ dicken and rope making. The latter tends to draw a crowd and people can leave with pieces of freshly-made rope. Van Holland opts to use bacon in the spec ’n’ dicken. Van Holland puts the bacon in the pan first and then pours the dough over the top of it. The result is a filling, flavorful pancake.

“You pour syrup over it and eat it just like a pancake,” he said.

Van Holland will not prepare the lefse but people will be free to get pieces of it to eat. The butter, cinnamon and sugar will be standing by.

The butter will be made with an old-fashioned jar and hand crank churn.

“The kids always love that one,” Van Holland said. “It’s a way to teach and get the kids involved.”

The resulting butter is available to the public to consume with crackers.

Another demonstration Van Holland said children enjoy is the taffy pulling.

“After it’s all done the taffy is laid out on a table and cut into pieces to be eaten,” he said.

The Lyon County Historical Society also hosts an annual spelling bee at the county fair. This year the bee will be at 3 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, in the Entertainment Building at the fair grounds. Van Holland said the spelling competition lasts about an hour depending on how many contestants show up. Prizes for first and second place are given in eight age categories:

  • Fourth grade.
  • Fifth grade.
  • Sixth grade.
  • Seventh grade.
  • Eighth grade.
  • High school.
  • Adults.
  • Senior citizens.

“The spelling bee was started years ago,” Van Holland said. “It’s just something different to do at the fair.”