City of Union

After a dispute last summer over a canceled tournament, the city of Union’s parks department and horseshoe organizers are again working together.

A need exists in the community for horseshoes, but the parks department has to determine whether it needs to make the sport available itself, like it does with adult softball, or contract with a group to put it on, like it does with youth baseball and soccer, Parks Director Chad Pohlmann said at the Thursday, Jan. 28, park advisory board meeting.

“I didn’t know if you were interested in holding a league, or if you were just going to do tournaments,” he told horseshoe organizer Kathy Narup. “Because, if you’re not, the parks department would move forward with trying to attempt to do a league.”

Pohlmann said he doesn’t know anything about horseshoes, so he would like to get guidance from Narup on how to do a league.

After initially proposing a league in which participants pay an entry fee to play a set schedule for a number of weeks, Pohlmann later said the city will likely do a weekly league in which players play a round-robin schedule. “They just do that for a set amount of time,” he said.

Another option proposed would be to do open play like the parks department does with pickleball, where the contests are informal. But there seemed to be less interest in that.

Narup, who is the publicity director for the Missouri State Horseshoe Pitchers Association, said she would like to see the city charge to play even if it is not a formal league. “They paid $5 last time, and it brings money into the city,” she said.

While the city would charge for a structured league, Pohlmann said it would not charge for open play.

“We’ll say it’s open play Tuesday, go down, the lights are on,” he said.

One reason Pohlmann wanted to get guidance before moving forward was because of a lack of sign-ups for a Wiffle ball league that was supposed to start Tuesday, Feb. 2.

Some horseshoe players like to play earlier in the evening because they are coming from areas as far away as Festus and Affton, Narup said. “They’re all retired, so the sooner they can get there, the sooner they can get home,” she said.

Narup has been making improvements to the horseshoe pits at the county fairgrounds to get them sanctioned. She said that would allow the fairgrounds to play host to weekend tournaments, which is separate from any league.

“If we can get them sanctioned and get them going, it will bring a lot of money into the city of Union,” she said. “Because they would stay for the weekend.”

Any city-run league would not be officially sanctioned, Pohlmann said. “All our stuff is just recreational.”

Narup suggested Union play on Tuesday nights, since other places play other nights of the week.

Narup spoke to the park board in September after a horseshoe tournament the city was running was canceled because of a lack of sign-ups. The tournament was seen as a way to help make up for horseshoe play Narup ran being canceled last summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Narup addressed members of the board of aldermen at a September committee meeting, she was told to again talk with Pohlmann.