Roy Ehly, a telephone maintenance superintendent and president of the La Crosse Chamber of Commerce conceived the idea for a barbed wire splicing contest. The Kansas association was the first to develop rules and hold a splicing contest at the La Crosse conventions. Rush County Agricultural Agent E. L. VanMeter developed rules for the competition with assistance from Kansas State University Extension Service, Manhattan. Bill Robbins, president of the Kansas Barbed Wire Collectors Association said in a 1970 interview for the American Barbed Wire Journal magazine, "We started the splicing contest with the idea of having fun, but now it is all serious. These people spend hours and hours practicing for the contest."
The association conducted the original splicing contest in front of the old commercial building at the Rush County Fairgrounds. Two posts mounted into sunken concrete bases supported the segments of wire. With the popularity of the splicing contest growing, the semi-permanent unit could not be used at other shows including one in Holton, Kansas sponsored by the Kansas association.
In 1970, Flame Engineering of La Crosse designed and constructed the portable splicing unit now used for the competition. Armco Steel (now known as AK Steel) asked the KBWCA to develop portable standards to be used for a splicing competition at the Kansas State Fair. The company constructed two of the specially designed units, one for Armco Steel and one for the Kansas association. Armco Steel held their first splicing competition at the 1970 Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson offering one mile of wire and twenty posts to the winner. With more contestants than they could handle, the contest was a success and Armco planned another competition at the Missouri State Fair.
The Kansas association has held the Splicing Contest annually since 1967. In 1970, the association began a “Powder Puff Competition” for the ladies. Rules were the same as for the men's division. In later years, a youth division, with modified rules, was added to the competition. Although competitions have been held at other locations, the winner of the La Crosse competition may claim the official title of “ World Champion.”
Contestants are not permitted to use any type of tools. Contestant may wear gloves. (Original rules permitted the use of one tool.)
Double strand, 2-point galvanized barbed wire should be used for the competition. High tensile strength wire is not recommended.
Strands of barbed wire 24 inches in length are attached on each of the two standards. The two strands of wire should be attached leaving a 3 to 4 inch gap. (Original specifications called for wires to be separated by 18 inches.)
Contestants are required to splice a 3rd piece of 24 inch wire to the 2 strands. Contestant may twist wires using only their hands in any manner desired to create a solid splice. When the splice is completed, the contests should raise his hands into the air to signal the timekeeper.
Completed splices must be able to support a 75 pound weight suspended from the midpoint of the wire.
Measurements should be made from the bottom of the measuring block on the support bar to the top of the hook on the suspended weight.
The scoring formula is: (Time x 1) + (Tension x 20) = Total Score
Time = Time in seconds measured to the nearest 100th second
Tension = Amount of sag in the wire measured at midpoint at top of weight hook to the nearest 1/10th inch multiplied by twenty.
Time and sag are added together to compute total score.
The Penalty System is used. The contestant with the lowest score or number of penalty points will be the winner of the event. In case of a tied score, the contestant with the fastest time will be the winner. In case of identical times, there will be another splice completed by the tied individuals, and scores of the first splices will be discarded.
Youth Competition Specifications:
Competition is open to youth 14 and under. Rules are the same with the following exceptions:
Wire: Two-strand barbless galvanized