116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
SOLON - Tristan Wirfs is no stranger to the Solon Beef Days.
The Mount Vernon native has visited the festival a number of times. But Friday night, Wirfs took part in a festival tradition that he hadn't done before - and he did pretty well, too.
Wirfs joined some 30 other competitors in the annual hay bale toss, and beat them all after clearing the bar at 12 feet.
'It was pretty awesome,” Wirfs, who will play offensive line at Iowa this fall, said. 'It was kind of my goal to win. It was quite an experience. It was so much fun.”
The event is really as simple as it sounds. Competitors pick up a bale of hay and hoist it over a bar, which is raised up six inches each time, until just one person is left. The annual event, which drew hundreds of spectators crowding the block in downtown Solon, featured a women's division, a senior division, and an open division.
The actual physical act of tossing the close to 50-pound hay bale up and over a bar, though, isn't an easy one - even for someone who has been around them on a farm.
'It's tough. I wasn't expecting it to be so heavy,” Wirfs said. 'I've bailed hay before and stuff, but tossing them up there, it was something different. It kind of takes it out of you. It's a marathon, you just have to keep going. It's a lot of fun.”
Amanda Owens, also a first-time competitor from Cedar Rapids, won the women's division with a throw clearing the bar at 10-foot-6. She threw shot put and discus in college at Nebraska, and her sister found the event online.
But while practicing for the event at home, Owens didn't expect to get near as high as she did.
'I set up a little thing at home, and I'm like, ‘I'm not going to get over like 7 1/2, 8 feet,' but I'll try it,” Owens said. 'My goal going in was like 8 feet. I think we hit like 10-foot-6, so that made me very happy.”
Yet after seeing how many people came out to participate, Owens was pleasantly surprised with the support she received.
'I actually had never heard about this before maybe two weeks ago,” Owens said. 'It's surprising to see how many people come out. I think I heard like 30 people chanting my name in the last throw, and I don't think I know that many people in Iowa. This is awesome.”
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