The game of horseshoes may seem like a sport of the past but in Stillwater, a league has played for decades.

The Stillwater horseshoe league rounded out its summer season with a tournament on Saturday, Aug. 24.

The league plays Monday nights, Memorial Day to Labor Day, at Northland Park, on the corner of Myrtle Street and Northland Avenue in Stillwater.

Jack Diethert, league organizer and Lake Elmo resident, has participated in the local horseshoe league “since day one,” he said.

“I’m the last of the guys that were in it then,” he said. “It’s been in operation probably around 30 years.”

Diethert, who organizes the league, said eight, five-person teams played the 12-week season this year.

Ron Lein, age 86 of Hudson, Wis., has played in the Stillwater league for 15 years, he said.

“I like the sport and the people we throw horseshoes with,” Lein said. “It’s a lot of community.”

Lein said he got interested in throwing horseshoes as a kid, visiting the Fourth of July celebration at Lakefront Park in Hudson where there used to be an annual horseshoe game.

Now, Lein said he throws horseshoes year round, whether he’s in Stillwater, at his cabin in northern Wisconsin or in Tucson, Ariz. He started throwing horseshoes regularly about 25 years ago, he added.

Lein said there are several ways to throw a shoe. Lein throws a three-quarter rotation while others use a flip throw, with the horseshoe flipping vertically rather than remaining flat as it flies toward the stake.

Diethert and Lein said league participation has dwindled in recent years and they hope to have more players next season.

“It’s hard to get the word out that we have a league,” Lein said. “We lack youth...We’d sure like to get more.”

Diethert said the league is open for individuals or teams regardless of skill level. Next year’s league starts on the first Monday in June at 6 p.m., he added.

“We don’t care if you’re good or bad. It doesn’t make a difference,” Diethert said.

To view Gazette staff photographs of the Aug. 24 horseshoe tournament, visit the Gazette online at

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