The pine beer bottle sculpted by Ron Alspach of Lumberjack Tree Service will feature two labels: Hell-Beer and Halbur U. Beer. The sculpture will be auctioned to raise funds for Halbur University scholarships. Daily Times Herald photo by Larry Devine
The pine beer bottle sculpted by Ron Alspach of Lumberjack Tree Service will feature two labels: Hell-Beer and Halbur U. Beer. The sculpture will be auctioned to raise funds for Halbur University scholarships. Daily Times Herald photo by Larry Devine
Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Halbur University’s annual Fun Day on Saturday, Jan. 14, will spotlight family tradition in the fundraiser for the community’s scholarship program for high-school seniors.

The day will be filled with a bowling tournament, dinner and auction. And the featured entertainment will be singer Brad Morgan.

Morgan, 20, son of Allen “Augie” and Paula Muhlbauer (he adopted Morgan as his performance name), didn’t benefit from the Halbur U. scholarship program himself. One of four children whose dad was a rural letter carrier and farmer and mom a homemaker, he graduated from Irwin-Kirkman-Manilla/Manning High School in 2010. However, his grandparents Iola Muhlbauer of Manning and the late Bill Muhlbauer were instrumental in establishing Halbur U. in the 1970s.

Bill and Iola farmed southwest of Manning, where they had a family of six sons and a daughter. When local residents brainstormed the fictitious university for the community and the fun and community service that could evolve from it, the Muhlbauers readily took part.

“It was a fun, community thing,” Iola says.

In fact, Bill won election to Halbur U.’s top position —brewmaster — a couple of times, often competing with Bill “Muddy” Testroet and Fred Eischeid for the prestigious post.

Meanwhile, Iola served as an original member of the Halbur U. Scholarship Committee, examining the applications from high-school students who either lived in the community or whose parents had attended school there.

Over the program’s 35-year history, scholarships have been awarded to 269 students totaling $131,800. Last spring five students each received a $750 scholarship. Applicants are judged on academic achievement, financial need and community service.

“The whole town of Halbur really got behind (the scholarship program). They really took part in it,” Iola says.

The program kicked off with Testroet’s $5,000 gift in 1975. Only principal on investment is used to fund the scholarships.

Morgan, who performs modern and old country music as well as classic rock, is looking forward to performing at Fun Day.

He says of Halbur U., “My dad’s told me about it. There’s a family history there.”

Only one of Bill and Iola Muhlbauer’s children — youngest son, Chris — received a Halbur U. scholarship. He attended Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny and now works at the Casey’s General Stores warehouse in Ankeny. Chris, who’s married and has two sons, also does some music performance, teaming with Alan Smith as Muhlbauer and Smith.

Meanwhile, last fall Morgan released his first CD, “Guitar Man,” and he says sales have been strong.

“It’s been really good, and people have been really supportive,” he says.

He plays primarily in downtown Des Moines venues as well as western and central Iowa.

Iola has seen Brad perform and says, “I like his music.”

She adds, “His grandpa (Bill, who passed away in 1994) would have been proud of him.”

Fun Day is Halbur U.’s major fundraiser for the year.

The day will begin with bowling at 1:30 at Carroll Bowl. Bowlers of all ages are welcomed, and competition will be flighted. Cost is $10, and bowlers may register by contacting Frank Eischeid at 658-2816.

Social hour will begin at 6, followed by dinner, auction and entertainment at the school gym in Halbur.

Dinner will include broasted chicken from Halbur Inn, mashed potatoes, gravy and salads. Cost is $8, and reservations may be made with Julie Clancy (658-2216) or Lois Dentlinger (658-2181).

The auction will offer HU windbreaker jackets and other items. The main attraction will be a wooden beer-bottle carving by chainsaw artist Ron Alspach of Lumberjack Knicknacks and Tree Service. The bottle features Halbur’s bear-mascot insignia with the labels Hell-Beer on one side and Halbur U. Beer on the other side. Alspach crafted the approximately 30-inch-tall bottle from one of several 120-year-old pine trees he removed a couple of years ago near Grant Road in Carroll.

Alspach has worked in tree service 25 years — five years on his own — and has carved part time six years.

Alspach, who has a sales outlet on U.S. 30 East in Carroll, has sculpted an array of items — bears, eagles, pumpkins, a car, a deer head, a rocking airplane, residential and business signs, and school mascots (Iowa State University’s Cy and University of Iowa’s Herky). He will be making a sign for the city of Auburn’s 125th-anniversary celebration this summer. He says he’s sold products in 28 states.

Alspach will put finishing touches on the Hell-Beer bottle this week applying a seal to protect it from outdoor elements. He says he’s interested to see how much his work generates and hopes it’s a big success for Halbur U.’s fundraising.