WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP | The Rhinestone Roper let loose with five knives.
Whizzing through the air, they landed near his sidekick, Horse Dancer, as she spun on the six-foot "Wheel of Death," before she unexpectedly drew a pistol and shot balloons out of the air, all while still spinning.
The Rhinestone Roper, aka Dan Mink, is the newest addition to the Porter County Fair's free entertainment, joining family favorites such as the Silly Safaris and Grandpa Crachet.
Mink travels the fair circuit from Idaho.
Mink said he spent his childhood growing up on his family’s cattle farm and his grandpa was a cowboy, but finding his calling in life wasn’t as easy as carrying on a family tradition.
"I spent seven years as an attorney in trial law and then one day was walking by a storefront window, saw my reflection and realized that wasn’t who I was. I decided I really wasn’t a lawyer," Mink said.
So he returned to his roots, threw in a helping of community theater experience, including a stint in a production of "Oklahoma," taught himself some rope tricks, whip tricks and the knife throwing he demonstrated with the help of some characters in his show, including two horses and a sidekick, Karen Jones, known in the show as Horse Dancer.
"There’s a rhythm to it," Mink said. "Very few people have seen this type of act before, especially at a county fair. You can hear the gasp when people see her spinning and see me pull out the knives and they realize what I’m going to do. That’s why I do it. I love getting the older ladies come up afterwards with tears in their eyes as they remember their grandfather doing rope tricks, or memories of Will Rogers. It’s a blast."
Mink is a four-time world champion in three skills. His shows run three times daily through the end of the fair this Saturday.