The 1874 birth of the only Iowan to reach the nation’s highest political office is being celebrated this weekend in his hometown. President Herbert Hoover is being remembered in West Branch with the 14th annual Hooverfest, which this year looks back at the 1960s.
Pat Forsythe, executive director of the Hoover Presidential Library Association, says one highlight of the event is the appearance of two other “presidents” and their first ladies. Bill and Sue Wells will be doing their interpretations of both the Kennedys and the Nixons. Forsythe says the 60s decade conjures images of hippies, music and tumultuous political times, so this will be an opportunity for education and reflection.
Other events include: an arts and crafts show, a parade, live music, fireworks and a five-K run called the Presidential Road Race. Forsythe says the Hooverball championship has teams coming from across the region. She says the Hooverball tournament is overflowing with entries, with at least 30 four-member teams.
Forsythe says Hooverball is the only sport ever invented exclusively for a U.S. President, as Hoover was told by his doctors he needed to get in better shape. He played the game daily with members of his cabinet on the White House lawn.
She says this year’s tournament -almost- had to be canceled. Everlast quit making the medicine balls but they found a Texas company that’s still making them. The red-and-black balls actually say “Hooverball” on them, instead of just “medicine ball.” Forsythe says it’s a quick-moving game to watch and it’s a great work-out to play — with a four-, six- or eight-pound ball.
It’s played on the volleyball court with an eight-foot high net and is scored like tennis. “It’s very fast and furious. Mr. Hoover probably wouldn’t recognize it, the way it’s played here with the teams because they really go at it.” For more information on this weekend’s list of events, call 800-828-0475 or surf to “www.hooverassociation.org”.