La Crosse, Kansas is home to a museum dedicated to… not lacrosse, although that would make sense in an “obvious” sort of way… but barbed wire.
The American invention is presented for visitors, with its origins (it was invented to protect a family garden), trivia (it’s most common nickname is “Devil’s Rope”) and history on full display. This is where people can learn that individual styles of barb have been patented, allowing companies to hold exclusivity on barbs which have proven particularly effective against large or small creatures, at causing severe damage or inconveniencing pain. It’s also where you can learn that, as with almost anything that has been used in military operations, there are collectors of the stuff.
Barbed wire collectors have developed a standard size for trade and sale: 18 inches of length. They seek specific barb styles, with specific gap sizes between the barbs and in high grade condition. Examples of the stuff can be found in places like Ebay.
Or, for those who don’t trust the mail service to deliver their passive weaponry, they can attend the Barbed Wire Festival.
Since 1967, La Crosse has hosted the festival, which is an opportunity for collectors from all over the world to converge and buy, sell and trade barbed wire. To be fair, though, it’s not all about the unfettered capitalism; the Festival also hosts meetings for local and national barbed wire societies, a casino night & Mexican buffet, a barbed wire crafting challenge to determine the year’s World Champion splicer, and even a special event for the kids.
Because if there’s one great combination that’s guaranteed to cause no problem, it’s children and barbed wire.
Question of the night : What’s the worst children’s toy?