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More than 30 horseshoe pitchers from all over travel to Kilgore tournament

By Richard Yeakley
March 16, 2013 at 10 p.m.


KILGORE - Horseshoe pitchers from 15 to 80 years old converged from across the region Saturday to compete in the Kilgore Horseshoe Oil Classic Tournament.

The tournament, one of five annual contests at Kilgore's horseshoe pit at North Street City Park, saw 31 contestants test their mettle, taking turns tossing shoes at the stakes 40 feet apart. All are members of the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association. Many, like Willie Booth and T.K. Gibson, have been throwing in the tournament for more than two decades.

"We have been coming down here since they first started this tournament," said Booth, who traveled from Ashdown, Ark., with three other horseshoe pitchers. "This is a great facility. We love it here."

Booth and Gibson brought along Calvin Ayers, 16, of Ashdown who is in his third year pitching horseshoes.

Terry Applegate, president of Kilgore's horseshoe pitching association, explained how unused tennis courts were transformed into the horseshoe pit in 2002. He said he has seen interest in horseshoe pitching grow since he pitched the idea for the arena and got things going.

"It's an open park, and some people do come and use it on their own," Applegate said. " But if people are really interested in it, we talk to them and try to get them involved."

He added that the group of eight volunteers who helped build the pit has grown to include several dozen pitchers who throw regularly.

A horseshoe pitching league is to begin Monday at the Kilgore park.

Kilgore's horseshoe pitching association holds five tournaments annually.

This year, it will include a sixth, adding a state mixed doubles to its roster of events, according to tournament Director Janell Berry.

Berry said she had seen several people really connect, and a group from South Kilgore has started to challenge the veterans who built the events.

For more information, contact Berry athorseshoenell@etex.net.

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