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Horseshoe tournament key part of Brewster Fun Days

BREWSTER -- Bright and early Saturday morning, a distinctive clanking noise could be heard coming from the vicinity of the city park.

It was the sound of a horseshoe hitting a stake as the annual 'shoes tournament got under way and would last until well into the afternoon. A few stray raindrops couldn't deter the tournament or the friendly ribbing of the competitors, many of whom make the rounds of such events throughout the region.

Twenty-two two-person teams were signed up for the Brewster bout, and that's standard for a tournament in the area according to the players.

"When we had league, we had 21 teams," explained horseshoe enthusiast Mike Steffl of Worthington. "But it is a dying sport. Nobody wants to commit to a weekly thing anymore."

The Brewster event and one at Swampy Days in Brewster are probably the most well-attended area events.

"It lasts all day, and it's a good time," said Curt Luing.

Steffl generally teams up with Bruce Bohning, while Luing's standard partner is Shannon Aanenson.

But on Saturday, they decided to change it up, so Steffl and Aanenson were one team, and Bohning and Luing formed another. It was inevitable that they would eventually have to play each other in the double-elimination format.

"When we go to different towns, we try to switch it around a little bit, make it more interesting," said Luing, shortly after he and Bohning beat the tournament's defending champions.

While the regular players take the game quite seriously, they say such tournaments really aren't about winning and losing or the cash prize that comes with the title.

"It's just the hanging out, the camaraderie," Steffl said.

Mario Guerra, a former Worthington resident who now lives in Madelia, made the trip specifically for the tournament. Because he came alone, he was willing to play with whoever needed a partner on Saturday.

"It's the excitement of everybody showing up, having a good time and getting nothing but ringers if you can," Guerra said about his enjoyment of the game.

There are still several major horseshoe tournaments coming up, including Bigelow Swampy Days on Aug. 4; the Nobles County Fair; and the King Turkey Day tournament in September. There may not be a formal horseshoe league any more, but the devoted players still get together to throw on a regular basis.

"We actually go out to the fairgrounds on Thursday night," Steffl said. "We'll play a round robin or cutthroat, just to play and get together. It's just something to do during the week."

And it's also something to occupy a hot summer weekend -- throwing ringers and relaxing in the shade with a cool beverage between matches.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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