Hot Iron Days is this weekend
LAMBERTON -- Larry Hubert has been working with metals all his life.
He likes the arts -- and working with his hands. So when his son, Clayton, introduced him to an iron pour for the first time, it was a natural fit.
"In his (Clayton's) second year (at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall), he got a work study to work in the lab with Jim Swartz, who was the head of the sculpture department," Hubert said. "He had been teaching for 30 years and had been around the world a few times. He had gone to a lot of iron pours and he knew about this, so he figured it would be something Clayton would be interested in.
He took Clayton to a couple of them, and Clayton told me, 'You have to go to this, it's right up your alley. It has fabrication and art and working with metals,'" Hubert continued. "That was something I had done all my life."
This weekend marks the ninth Annual Hot Iron Days in downtown Lamberton. The festivities begin Friday.
The weekend has a variety of activities, but will center around the iron pour.
"We'll melt iron down," Hubert said. "We have a portable mold shop. It makes no sense to melt iron unless you have something to put it in.
"We'll make molds of various things and then we're going to melt the iron down in a couple furnaces that I built," Hubert explained. "The furnaces themselves are pretty much just lined pipes. They are made to take high heat. They have a bottom in them that will catch the iron as it comes down."
People can make their own molds that will create cast-iron pieces.
"It's a real good opportunity for people to come if they're the least bit interested in any type of foundry arts," Hubert said. "If they like working with their hands and want to give something a try, the prices are very reasonable. You get to make something with your hands, we'll cast it and, later that day, they can take a cast iron plaque home."
The first iron pour Hubert went to was in the Minnesota community of Herman.
"I met some very friendly people who were more than willing to tell me everything they were doing," Hubert said. "I met some of the guys I consider my mentors at that pour, and I've known them ever since. I pretty much came from that first iron pour in Herman knowing that I have to build a furnace."
The furnace uses a fuel called coke.
"Coke is a refined coal," Hubert explained. "It has a lot of the nastier oils burned out of it, and it's almost pure carbon. It takes a lot of heat to get that carbon burning. Once you do and you give it enough oxygen, it gets really hot."
The iron is melted through the furnace until it becomes a liquid.
"You can picture this iron raining down through four or five feet of this coke that burns almost white hot," Hubert said. "These drips, every chunk they land on, they roll off and pick up a little more heat as they go down. They start pooling in the bottom of the furnace.
"Once the well of this furnace has 120 pounds in it, then we'll open it and let it run into a hand ladle that's been heated," he detailed. "We'll carry that hand ladle to the different molds that we've made earlier in the day and fill them with iron. Then we'll repeat that process."
As part of the celebration -- which began in 2005 -- the blacksmith shop is open.
"As luck would have it, the blacksmith shop here in Lamberton had been repaired a few years before (the first iron pour)," Hubert said. "It had gotten up to where it was a working blacksmith shop again. They had never had an open house. I'm not sure how I got on to the Historical Society, but I said, 'I have an idea if you want to do something unique.' They were all for it -- 'let's get some blacksmiths in and if you want to do something unique, let's go for it."'
Friday night features a night pour, which lights up like fireworks. The mold building classes begin at noon on Friday and again at 8 a.m. Saturday.
"If you've never seen an iron pour, it is different," Hubert said. "Because we live in a rural area, a lot of people my age and older have seen somebody bend iron, heat it up and bend it hot or something. But it's completely different when it's turned into a liquid and actually poured.
"If people are looking for something that they've never seen before, it's pretty unique."
Schedule of events:
Noon to 7 p.m., "Sand Shop" class on mold building, City Park
5 to 7 p.m., BBQ meal, ambulance building
8 to 10 p.m., library book sale, ambulance building conference room
10 p.m., "Sparks Under the Stars" Iron Pour, behind blacksmith shop
All Day: "Ageless Iron" display of tractors, machinery, cars, Douglas Street
8 to 11 a.m., "Sand Shop" class on mold building, City Park
8 to 11 a.m., rolls, fresh fruit and beverages, City Park
8 a.m., medallion hunt (clues posted every two hours at blacksmith shop)
8:30 a.m., sand volleyball tournament (contact Susan Jeckell, (507) 822-1322)
8:30 a.m., Registration for the 5K run/walk, with event to start at 9 a.m.
9 a.m. to 3 p.m., library book sale, ambulance building conference room
10 a.m., digital scavenger hunt (clues posted at blacksmith shop)
10 a.m., bike rodeo/safety course
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Blacksmithing professionals, blacksmith shop
10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Farmers' market (open to any vendors), Douglas Street
11 a.m. to 1 p.m., chili and brats feed, City Park
11 a.m. to 1 p.m., music, City Park
1 p.m., library book sale "bag sale" begins, ambulance building conference room
2 p.m., kiddie costume parade
2:30 to 4 p.m., kiddie carnival, face painting and tractor rides, City Park
3 to 6 p.m., walking tacos/taco salad, ambulance building
4 p.m., Iron Pour, behind blacksmith shop