World Tournament of Horseshoes Lands at Florence Center July 9-21
Horseshoe tossing isn’t just for festivals, family barbecues and halftime interludes! For some people, it’s serious business with winnings and national titles on the line.
Legend (and recorded history) suggests we have the Greeks to thank for horseshoe tossing, possibly evolving from discus throwing and the game quoits (quoits is usually called ring toss around here).
But there’s no doubt we have the Florence Center to thank for an anticipated 1,100 horseshoe competitors descending on the area for the 13-day World Tournament of Horseshoes starting July 9. The Florence Center beat out Shreveport, Louisiana, and El Paso, Texas, in 2016 to host the games this summer. An estimated direct economic impact of $3.5 million is anticipated from the two-week event.
The National Horseshoe Pitchers Association (NHPA) puts on the World Horseshoe Tournament, dubbed the Super Bowl of horseshoes, for athletes of all ages. The first event in 1909 could’ve passed as a family reunion with just 34 participants, but the tournament has grown into a world-class, international competition with about 1,100 athletes annually. U.S. and Canadian cities competitively bid to host the tournament each July. This year at least 47 U.S. states as well as Canada, South Africa, and Norway will have competitors in the event.
Horseshoe “pitchers” compete in one of eight divisions of more than 70 different classes that pair athletes of similar skill, age, and gender, the idea being to maximize competition each day of the event. In a finale, world champions in each division are crowned for the year!
The tournament is more than just horseshoes, as participants and spectators enjoy other events…such as the tourney-inspired Lucky 13 Country Jam in Downtown Florence Friday, July 13 in the 100 block of N. Dargan Street! The Barry Brown Band will be joined by food vendors, a kids’ zone with inflatables, a cornhole tournament hosted by Local Motive Brewing and chances to spin a Lucky 13 prize wheel and jump into a CASH CUBE! Admission is free.
Preparations for the tournament are already underway at the Florence Center, as they’ve been busy building 50-60 professional custom tournament horseshoe pits, which includes bringing in truckloads of Kentucky Blue Clay (approved tournament clay).
Events will be INDOORS, where it’s not 95 degrees. Admission each day is FREE. Preliminary play begins July 9. The adult’s championships are July 19-21. The junior’s and cadet’s championships are July 14-18, with competition from 8 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Championships are July 19-21 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
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