The hometown of the only Iowan ever to become president is holding its annual celebration today to mark what would have been his 133rd birthday. Pat Hand, spokeswoman for the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association, says the diverse list of events in West Branch includes: a pet talent show, a fishing expo, arts and crafts, a "mystery theater" performance, and a Hooverball tournament that’s bringing in athletes from all over the state.
Hand says "Hooverball is always a big draw for Hooverfest and it recalls, of course, the game that President Hoover’s physician invented to help him stay fit during the White House years." The game is played with a "medicine ball" that weighs between four and eight pounds. It’s played on a volleyball court with an eight-foot high net and is scored like tennis. Hand says a host of dignitaries typically show up for this annual event, and this year, the list includes the Ambassador to the U.S. from Belgium.
Hand says: "Certainly President Hoover, before he was president, came into the national spotlight because of the extraordinary humanitarian work he did before and after and during World War One, to be able to literally save the people of Belgium from starvation. He did this again after World War Two. The Hoover name is very revered in Belgium."
A military ceremony this evening (starting at 7:30) at the Hoover gravesite will involve the families of the 57 Iowans who have lost their lives in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hand says, "Governor Culver will speak. We’ll have the three volleys which are being provided by the National Guard buglers and the National Guard has promised us a very big and impressive surprise during this evening, so we’re really looking forward to what they have planned for us, and the evening will conclude with patriotic music and the traditional Hooverfest fireworks which are always fabulous."
For more information, call (800) 828-0475 or go online to visit www.hooverassociation.org .