Herald JournalHerald Journal, March 10, 2003

You don't have to be Polish to enjoy these horseshoes

By Julie Yurek

Area residents are finding fun in the form of beanbags; they're tossing them, throwing them, even alleyooping a few. What exactly are they doing?

They're playing a common backyard game usually played in the summer called "Polish horseshoes."

Does one have to be Polish to play? No, but it may give those that are an edge.

This is the third year the Blue Note of Winsted is hosting a league Thursday evenings.

The game consists of two slanted platforms about 20 feet across from each other with a six inch hole in the middle for the beanbags to fall through, which is the object of the game.

Players throw beanbags as they would horseshoes. The object is to get the beanbags either through the hole or at least on the platform. Getting a bag in the hole is three points, and getting one on the platform is one point.

The leagues' scoring is a little different than traditional Polish horseshoes to even out playing time, said Jeff Campbell, co-owner of the Blue Note. In the traditional scoring, a set could last only 15 minutes or as long as one hour.

Instead, the league scores according to traditional horseshoes, Campbell said. Campbell also manages the Winsted horseshoe league in the summer.

The first year of the league, Campbell borrowed the platforms from people he knew. Last year he bought platforms from Miller Distributing, and the company paid for half the cost, he said.

With the new equipment, there is uniformity in shape and size, he said.

The majority of the participants are couples, Campbell said.

"There are a couple of teams with all guys, but their girlfriends come too," he said.

This year there are seven teams in the league, but he's had up to eight teams, he said.

"More teams are always welcome," he said. "If anyone is interested in joining, call." The telephone number at the Blue Note is (320) 485-9698.

If there were more than 12 teams, the league could be split into two different nights, or two shifts, an early and late, on the same night, Campbell said.

Besides socializing, the time element is a reason many people play.

Some of the players left the dart and pool league scene to play in the Polish horseshoe league, he said. For them, it is a shorter time commitment each week, he said.

"It only takes about one and a half hours a week," Campbell said.

The league starts in January after the holidays and continues until mid-April, Campbell said.

At the end of the season, a party with food and beer is organized for players to get together one last time and watch the top two teams compete in the championship round.

Last year was the first time Campbell had a year-end party, and he thought everyone had a good time.

"It was a little different for the two teams competing because they had everyone watching them, and they weren't used to that," he said.

Another new element that Campbell is adding this year is a one-day Polish horseshoe tournament open to the public, scheduled for Saturday, April 12 at noon.

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