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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

'Nothing but luck': Horseshoe pitching is popular event at Tall Corn Days

Friday, August 3, 2012

Darryl Johnson has just thrown a horseshoe and awaits the outcome. /Photo by Lorri Glawe
Horseshoe pitching is something of a lost sport, but when Tall Corn Days in Sioux Rapids occurs, the pitching enthusiasts dig out their shoes and take part in the tournament held at the city park.

The tournament has been held annually for the past six years; this year there were 72 participants from all across the region, and all of them take their competition seriously.

The key to winning? There may not be one, said Terry Richard of Linn Grove, though some may argue that.

"It's all luck. That's what horseshoes is all about - luck!"

The event is held on the court that has been in its present spot since the 1960s. The Sioux Rapids American Legion maintains the courts today.

Darryl Johnson used to watch his dad and his friends pitching horseshoes at the Sioux Rapids court and watched as they traveled town to town for tournaments. He learned from the best.

Duane "Drano" Anderson keeps coming back year after year to the Tall Corn Days tournaments because "I get tired of getting my butt kicked every year" and he hopes each year will be different than the previous one.

In addition, he said, it is good exercise and gets him away from the TV.

Each contestant brings his or her own shoes. Randy "Roho" Terrell, who was last year's champion along with Dale Reese, shared that the shoes he plays with are 37 years old and he purchased them from money he won in a card game!

They are still bringing him luck.

While the shoes used to be used more in the past, he admitted he drags the shoes out of the closet right before the tournament and gets in only a few practice pitches prior to the event starting.

He enjoys getting out and seeing the other pitching enthusiasts. With the event being single elimination, once you lose, you're out. Most stay around and socialize and watch until the end.

Reese said he has a court on his farm and for many years he and his friends would pitch shoes on a regular basis. It was not unusual to see horseshoe courts in most of the area towns, either. Tournaments used to be held regularly and draw a great number of participants and audience.

Al Redig, a one-eyed pitcher, who keeps his sight on the stake at the other side of the court, shared he has been playing all his life, too, but has only competed in four of the Tall Corn Days contests.

It's the competition that brings him out but whether he wins or loses, it's a good time; but hearing the "clang" of the ringer and winning is a better time.

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