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-Photo of the messenger by Kelby Wingert

The Floyd of Rosedale sculpture was installed at the corner of 10th Avenue North and 32nd Street North on Tuesday afternoon. Weighing over 5,000 pounds, the 14-foot-tall sculpture was created by Mount Vernon artist Dale Merrill.

It started as a bet between two governors and then grew into a traveling football trophy, but now Floyd of Rosedale has finally come home.

The 14-foot-tall pig sculpture was set up – using a huge crane – on top of its base at the intersection of 10th Avenue North and 32nd Street on Tuesday.

Floyd of Rosedale was once an actual Rosedale Farm pig, just east of Fort Dodge and very close to the present-day sculpture site and Aquatic Center at Rosedale Rapids. Its origin comes from a racial conflict between the all-white football team at the University of Minnesota and the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, which had US running back Ozzie Simmons, one of the few black players in the game. major college football in 1934. The Minnesota players singled out Simmons for a few brutal punches on the way to victory.

Before the 1935 match between the two rivals, the racial conflict started to boil again. To calm things down, Minnesota Governor Floyd Olson bet Iowa Governor Clyde Herring on the outcome of the game.

In the end, Minnesota won in a clean game and players from both schools complimented each other after the end. Then Herring was hooked for a hog, so he turned to Allen Loomis, the owner of Rosedale Farms, for a hog. He named the pig Floyd in honor of the governor of Minnesota.

-Photo of the messenger by Kelby Wingert

Slowly, Floyd of Rosedale is loosened on the bolts that will hold him in place on Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s a very unique story, when you think of two governors who solved a racial conflict with a pig” said Fort Dodge City Councilor Dave Flattery, who led the sculpture project. “A lot of us on the committee didn’t know this piece of the story and we think it’s a great story to remember and the best way to do it is to symbolize it with a statue of Floyd. “

Flattery said he wanted Fort Dodge to be able to tell the story with his “Unique characters” that visitors travel to view the sculpture. Moments after Floyd settled in, the passing drivers slowed down to admire the pig.

The sculpture that now dominates the southwest corner of the Rosedale Rapids Aquatic Center was created by Mount Vernon artist Dale Merrill, who grew up right in the middle of Hawkeye Country.

The Fort Dodge Public Art Commission called for nominations for a public art piece in honor of Floyd of Rosedale in 2019.

Merrill said the call for nominations was “wide-open,” but that the commission wanted clear concepts. He submitted his rendering of a Floyd of Rosedale concept and it’s the one the commission chose.

-Photo of the messenger by Kelby Wingert

Kale Merrill, of Mount Vernon, son of sculptor artist Dale Merrill, tightens the bolts holding the Floyd of Rosedale sculpture in place at its base Tuesday afternoon.

Merrill said his main focus with the design was to make sure the sculpture was recognizable as Floyd of Rosedale.

“My other inspiration was to be somewhat abstract, to convey the shape of the topography and the map and the layers representing the outlines and the layers and the terraces and things that we have in the fields across the Midwest,” he said. “I grew up in Iowa and around farms, crops and pigs and I really wanted to showcase something that represented the Midwest.”

After signing the contract to manufacture the sculpture in July 2020, Merrill immediately got to work transforming his 2D render into a 3D model and began design work to create the drawings of all the parts to be laser cut.

“This year has been difficult because of COVID”, he said.. “So the steel supplies were depleted and the availability was slow. So we were able to work on it, it seemed like two or three months at a time and then we had to wait for more material. “

The first parts were laser cut in October 2020 and Floyd was finally completed last week. Merrill said he received help from his son, Kale, who works full time in Merrill’s studio. His daughter, Remy, helped document the progress.

-Photo of the messenger by Kelby Wingert

With helpers, artist Dale Merrill, right, walks the Floyd of Rosedale sculpture – supported by a large crane – to its place atop its base at the corner of 10th Avenue North and 32nd Street North on Tuesday afternoon.

The sculpture is made of Cor-Ten steel, Merrill said. It is also sometimes called “Patinated steel”. The metal will build its own protective oxide coating which will change color to a more reddish brown and prevent corrosion.

Flattery was happy with the installation on Tuesday.

“It looks perfect” he said. “It was very good teamwork. In committee, we had people who had certain skills and who were successful. We had a group that was positive, that believed it could be done. “

Merrill said he would visit his sculpture to see how the steel oxidizes, and he said there are plans to add lighting functions so that Floyd is illuminated at night.

“It was an honor to be a part of the project and it’s super cool to see him standing there. “ Merrill said shortly after Floyd’s installation on Tuesday afternoon.

Approximately $ 125,000 was raised for the project, and no tax money was used.

The Floyd of Rosedale sculpture was commissioned entirely through private donations and grants. The main donors were the Catherine Vincent Deardorf Charitable Foundation, Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust, the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and many other private donors.

Each donor will be listed on a donor plaque placed at the site, Flattery said.

Floyd was driven around town on a flatbed trailer towed by a semitrailer from the CDL program at Iowa Central Community College.

Floyd of Rosedale Statistics

Height: 14 feet

Weight: 5,000

pound sterling

Length: 15 feet

Favorite football team:

Iowa Hawkeyes

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