By Beth Cox
When the Fourth of July rolls around, most people think about fireworks and cookouts, but for nine people this Fourth of July meant horseshoe tournament time at Ralph Stout Park.
The sun was shining, and it was a bit warm but perfect for the annual tournament that has been bringing competitors to the park for more than fifteen years.
The event is held three times a year; Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day. The Town of Mountain City hosts the competition by providing signage, location along with trophies for the winners.
According to event organizers, the tourney is open to ages sixteen years and older.
Ladies and the guys play against each other, but women along with men over seventy years of age pitch the horseshoes from thirty feet away, instead of forty. The first person to get twenty-five points wins and continues to the next round. The tournament follows the horseshoe state rules.
Participants at this year’s tournament had an early prediction that the man to beat was Ogene Greer.
Greer did not disappoint throughout most of the tournament, as he easily made his way through the winners’ bracket and ended up facing off with his brother, Bill Greer in the semi-finals.
The competition against brothers seemed to have been going on for quite some time with Ogene usually coming out the winner; however, Bill had bragging rights in this year’s tourney by winning against his brother to
take on Lynn Combs in the finals.
Combs lost to Ogene earlier, but the tournament is double elimination, so Combs had the opportunity to compete in the losers’ bracket.
Combs pushed through beating James Sherwood and Elmer Johnson before pitching horseshoes once again and ultimately winning against Ogene which secured Combs a spot to the finals. Combs was the tournament winner with brothers Bill and Ogene capturing the second and third place titles, respectively.
The horseshoe tournament may not draw the spectators most sports venues do, but the game itself is about much more than horseshoes.
It is a slow pace, simple game that allows time for socializing and laughing with each other.
Mary Lou Brennan, who has been playing since she was a child but had been competing in Mountain City for the past two years said, “The horseshoe tournament is a nice social event for me and my husband, Michael to compete but also get to know people a little better and have fun.”