Horseshoe event 'a real family affair'

Mid-Missouri families say the March Madness Mixed Open is good for all ages and skills.
Saturday, March 29, 2008 | 10:29 p.m. CDT; updated 3:41 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Roy Flatt could have competed in an indoor horseshoe tournament in Liberty on Saturday. Instead, Flatt chose to make the drive from Raytown to Jefferson City to participate with his family in the March Madness Mixed Open, hosted by the Capital City Horseshoe Club.

Flatt joined his son, grandson, granddaughter and granddaughter’s husband, who all live in mid-Missouri, at the tournament. Flatt, the winner of the Class A competition, joined the club about two years ago and has been steadily recruiting his family to compete ever since. He plans to interest his 8-year-old great grandson Garrett in the sport soon.

“We could almost have a class by ourselves if we were all pitching,” he said.

Mel Bruemmer is the cousin of Steve Bruemmer, the club’s founder.

“I think you’ll find it’s a real family affair,” Mel Bruemmer said. “They get each other involved. Husbands will be doing it, and then wives will start trying it.”

Mel Bruemmer said that the rules of the game contribute to its family-friendly nature.

“Everybody can do it together,” he said. “When they’re really young, your sons can throw from a shorter distance, and the wives can throw from a shorter distance. They can compete with each other and all play the same game at the same time.”

Eileen Reeves is one of the club’s vice presidents. She said her husband, Oscar Reeves, started pitching about 9 years ago. She began not long after he did. Their daughter does not pitch horseshoes, but she kept score at Saturday’s tournament.

John Smith Jr. won the Class C division. His son, John Smith III, placed third in Class D.

Smith III, 16, accompanied his father to tournaments for years. He learned how to keep score, but by the time he was 14, he decided to play.

“He’s not home in front of the computer this way,” Smith said. “I can get him out of the house.”

Smith has three other children, including 7-year-old James Smith.

“Eventually he’ll get out here,” Smith said of his younger son. “He wants to now, but I just don’t let him. I’ve been to tournaments when there’s some kid out there playing and not in control and they hit somebody.”

“I started when I was 8 years old in the front yard,” Smith said. “My dad taught me how to play, and his dad taught him how to play. It’s not very often you do something with your parent when you’re a kid.”

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