A landmark to remember a legacy

Roundabout will get Floyd of Rosedale sculpture

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Dave Flattery poses with his small replica of the Floyd of Rosedale trophy. The Floyd of Rosedale Committee is seeking proposals for a sculpture that will stand in a Fort Dodge roundabout commemorating the story behind the pig. It will not be a replica of the trophy, but an original design evoking history.

A new project will combine history, athletics and public art to preserve the legacy of Floyd of Rosedale.

The famous pig, given as a prize in 1935 in an attempt to diffuse racial tensions around a big football game, will be the subject of a new sculpture to be installed at the roundabout at 10th Avenue North and 32nd Street.

“The idea behind the pig, or Floyd, in the roundabout is to retain that legacy, and the story behind it,” said Fort Dodge Councilman David Flattery, who is on the Floyd of Rosedale Planning Committee. “This is arguably the most popular traveling trophy between Division I college football teams, Iowa and Minnesota.

“I don’t think the generations behind me know the story, and you want to retain that legacy. When you retain that legacy and that story, it builds pride in the community.”

The Fort Dodge Public Art Committee is now seeking proposals from sculptors all over the country to design a tribute to the story of the pig and the football teams. The project will be paid for from donations, not from tax dollars or public funds. The deadline for submissions is April 9.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Dave Flattery shows a photo of the original Floyd of Rosedale, the pig from Rosedale Farms which was given to Minneapolis Gov. Floyd Olson after a wager in 1935. The pig’s brother, Blue Boy, was featured in the movie “State Fair” shown at left.

Other public art projects, such as the mural painted on the old grain silos on Hawkeye Avenue, have also been done through donations with no tax dollars, Flattery said.

There are a lot of sub-stories within the story of Floyd, Flattery said.

Not everyone realizes the pig was first wagered after a game with racial overtones, he said. All-American running back Ozzie Simmons, who played for the Hawkeyes, was one of the few black players at the time and had been knocked out three times during a previous game against the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.

“There’s a racial element to it–and there were tensions between both universities, but they settled it with a wager,” Flattery said. ”And Floyd of Rosedale, the pig, was the wager.”

The story shows other celebrities’ connections to Fort Dodge.

-Public domain photo
The Floyd of Rosedale trophy is shown on display at the Minnesota State Fair in 2006. The 98 pound bronze sculpture has been passed back and forth to the winner of the Iowa-Minnesota game since 1936.

“Ronald Reagan broadcast that game for WHO Radio. He is quoted somewhere saying that Ozzie Simmons was one of the best running backs he’d ever seen,” Flattery said.

That pig, which the governor of Iowa sent to the governor of Minnesota, grew up on the Rosedale Farms just east of today’s Rosedale Rapids, next to the roundabout which will soon hold the sculpture.

“We need to retain this legacy, this wonderful story, and what better way than to have public art, and what better location than the roundabout on 32nd Street which is within a quarter mile of the original Rosedale Farm?” Flattery said.

The Rosedale Farms that provided the pig also once supplied all the milk and dairy products to the creamery in downtown Fort Dodge, he said.

“It was a popular place,” said Flattery. “Even when I was young I remember the creamery. And I remember the farm.”

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
A plaque comemmorates Floyd of Rosedale at the trailhead next to Rosedale Rapids, in the area of Fort Dodge where Rosedale Farms once stood.

What will the sculpture look like, and how big will it be? That’s up to the sculptor’s imagination, Flattery said. But it can’t be an exact replica of the official traveling trophy, to respect copyrights, he said.

One of the first steps in starting the project was coordinating with both the University of Iowa and the University of Minnesota, he said.

Detailed information is available online at fortdodgepublicart.org/floyd-of-rosedale.

The committee said it’s looking for “unique, but sophisticated designs that contribute to the character of the community,” using the artist’s creative interpretation.

Any material can be used, although methods using metal such as bronze, steel, or recycled metal will be preferred. The sculpture should be between 10 and 20 feet in length, the committee wrote.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Rosedale Roundabout? This roundabout at 10th Ave. N. and 32nd Street, which currently holds plants, may soon be the site of a sculpture commemorating the story of Floyd of Rosedale.

Qualified artists should have successfully managed and completed at least one publicly-funded commissioned project with a budget of $75,000 or more. The proposal must also take into account how the sculpture will withstand Iowa’s elements. Competitiveness of the budget will be considered.

“We’ll get a better handle on costs after we see the proposals,” Flattery said. “About $120,000 to $250,000 is the estimate.”

Flattery isn’t sure if there are any local artists who will submit proposals. Those with an art background on the committee, including Jennifer Dutcher and Eric Anderson, director of the Blanden Memorial Art Museum, knew of a lot of potential people at the universities, he said.

“We probably sent it out to a dozen potential candidates throughout the Midwest and the United States,” Flattery said.

Eventually the roundabout may be renamed Rosedale Roundabout, Flattery said.

And the Rosedale committee still hopes to build a barn-shaped structure near the area, he said — a goal they’ve had for many years.

“The original thought was to build a replica barn and use it as a year-round shelter, and someday we might do that anyway out at the park,” he said. “But to give it more visibility, and less costly we hope, would be to build the pig in the middle of the roundabout.”

There’s already information up on a trailhead near Rosedale Rapids about the Floyd story. The barn could make more space for more information in the future.

“This story will flow from the roundabout to the park itself,” he said. “Hopefully over time we can talk about Ronald Reagan and Lili Damita. Right now our goal is just to get the pig set up.”

Lili Damita was the French -American actress and singer who was at first married to Errol Flynn. After divorcing him, she remarried to Al Loomis, who owned the Rosedale farm. She is now buried in Fort Dodge’s Oakand Cemetery.

The committee members will select the winning artist from all submissions, and work with them to refine the design by April 30. Installation of the sculpture is scheduled for fall of this year. The committee includes Flattery, Dutcher, Anderson, Hope Thier, Janece Valentine, Kelly Halsted, Jim Kersten, Shelly Bottorf, Councilman Terry Moehnke, and Kevin Twait.

Floyd of Rosedale History

Provided by the Floyd of Rosedale Planning Committee

It all started in 1934, when the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers played a football game against the University of Iowa Hawkeyes.

Iowa’s running back Ozzie Simmons, who was one of few black players at the time, was singled out to be hit with excessive force during a 48-12 home loss to Minnesota. It’s said that Simmons was knocked unconscious three times before leaving the game in the second quarter.

When the time came for Iowa and Minnesota to face each other again in 1935, Iowa Gov. Clyde Herring warned Minnesota not to pull the same stunts it had the prior year. The day before the game, Herring issued a statement that read: “The University of Iowa football team will defeat the University of Minnesota tomorrow. Those Minnesotans will find 10 other top-notch football players besides Ozzie Simmons against them this year. Moreover, if the officials stand for any rough tactics like Minnesota used last year, I’m sure the crowd won’t.”

Minnesota Gov. Floyd Olson sent a telegram to Herring on game-day morning, which read, “Dear Clyde, Minnesota folks excited over your statement about the Iowa crowd lynching the Minnesota football team. I have assured them that you are a law-abiding gentleman and are only trying to get our goat. The Minnesota team will tackle clean, but, oh! how hard, Clyde. If you seriously think Iowa has any chance to win, I will bet you a Minnesota prize hog against an Iowa prize hog that Minnesota wins today. The loser must deliver the hog in person to the winner. Accept my bet through a reporter. You are getting odds because Minnesota raises better hogs than Iowa. My best personal regards and condolences”.

Herring accepted. The Gophers won 13-6 without incident and Iowa star Ozzie Simmons played an injury-free game. Afterwards, the Minnesota players went out of their way to compliment Simmons, and Simmons praised the Gophers for their clean, hard-fought play.

Herring obtained an award-winning prize pig which had been donated by Allen Loomis, the owner of Rosedale Farms near Fort Dodge. Dubbed Floyd after the Minnesota governor, the pig was the brother of Blue Boy from Will Rogers’ movie “State Fair”. A few days following the game, Herring collected Floyd of Rosedale and personally walked him into Olson’s carpeted office.

Since the two schools could not continue wagering a live pig, Olson commissioned St. Paul sculptor Charles Brioschi to capture Floyd’s image. The result is a 98 pound bronze trophy, 21 inches long and 15 inches high. Iowa and Minnesota have played for Floyd of Rosedale every year since. The winner of the game is entitled to keep the trophy until the following year’s contest.

Learn more about the Rosedale Roundabout project at fortdodgepublicart.org/floyd-of-rosedale.

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