Although the annual horseshoe pitching challenge is not quite ready to move to the Routt County Fair’s main grandstand area, this year’s competition provided a bit of excitement in the middle of Saturday afternoon.
The crowd that remained for the end of the tournament was a bit restive but sat hushed, wondering why there were just two horseshoe pitching teams continuing to play on Pit 1. As the teams finished a quick match with Fritz Aurin and Tom Armstrong (champions of the past few county fairs) easily victorious, Marsha Daughenbaugh announced the status of the horseshoe tournament’s annual “business class” competition. With this last victory by Aurin and Armstrong’s Steamboat Smokehouse/Mountain Paint team, they were tied with a team that had travelled from Meeker after learning about the competition from a Steamboat Today article earlier in the week.
Daughenbaugh, executive director of the sponsoring Community Agriculture Alliance, told the crowd, “For the first time in this competition, the last match of this round-robin tournament is going to decide the championship.” The audience settled in to watch while the contestants grabbed their horseshoes and went to their respective sides of the pit. They shook hands and the match was on.
Armstrong threw the first horseshoe directly to the stake — a ringer, good for three quick points. A couple of tosses later and Aurin had a ringer of his own.
Daughenbaugh soon called out for the score and announced it as 15-6 in favor of the reigning champions from Steamboat.
Then, while the challengers from Meeker — Walt and Alan Ducey, of Ducey’s Electric — began to make some headway with a few ringers of their own, Aurin and Armstrong got another ringer to bring them to 18 points. Armstrong then threw another ringer, which would have ended the match had one of the Duceys not thrown a ringer on top of Armstrong’s, which canceled out the score. The challengers then threw a second ringer, which gave them a total of 15 points. The match was tightening.
The Ducey’s Electric team soon took a 20-19 lead. A couple of rounds later the visitors scored with a ringer that Aurin was unable to top or dislodge. The crowd cheered for a great match.