Ringer bringers

Jerry Nelson, 59, a member of the Franklin, W.Va., Moose Lodge No. 769, tosses a horseshoe during the 29th Annual International Moose Horseshoe Tournament on Friday at the Strasburg Moose Lodge. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – The intermittent clanking of horseshoes, chatter and laughter set the tone for a hot summer afternoon in Strasburg competing and catching up.

Moose members from far and wide traveled to the Strasburg Moose Family Center to spend the weekend throwing ringers and reuniting with fellow Moose members.

Strasburg Lodge 403 hosted the 29th Annual International Moose Horseshoe Tournament Friday and Saturday for Moose member competitors and their families. Throwers competed in several categories divided into lettered classes by their average.

This is the fifth year the Strasburg Lodge has hosted the tournament since 1996, the latest occurring in 2011. Volunteers began preparing the event grounds and 32 clay horseshoe pits for a rush of 140 registered competitors on Tuesday. Campers began to roll up to the Moose Family Center on Wednesday evening.

A number of competitors showed their dogged determination by practicing Thursday evening or heading out to the stakes as early as 6:30 Friday morning to prepare.

Jean Dupuis, 72, left, and Bill Falck, 57, right, both members of Bozrah Moose Lodge 950 in Bozrah, Conn., stand at attention during the playing of the national anthem at the start of the 29th Annual International Moose Horseshoe Tournament being held at the Strasburg Moose Lodge on Friday. The three-day tournament features 140 participants, with some as far away as California. Rich Cooley/Daily

A team of 75 young volunteers, most of them with relatives competing, spend their day sunning and keeping score for the tournament, rewarded for their time and patience with Moose meals. Some young people compete in the tournament alongside friends and family.

But Horseshoe league co-chairman Greg Orndorff said there’s a big culprit for stealing both young and old horseshoe competitors away – cornhole.

“It’s taken a lot of our throwers,” he said. “I’m not happy about that.”

Orndorff and his wife Leslie compete against each other on separate mixed doubles teams, which she said isn’t unusual amongst married couples competing.

A total of 64 plaques and even more cash prizes await first, second and third place winners in each group to be awarded on Saturday. Winners of the mixed, women’s and men’s doubles tournaments will receive their awards 9 a.m. Saturday, and winners of the singles competitions will receive theirs at dinner Saturday evening.

Carl Jones, 62, a member of Lynchburg Moose Lodge No. 1727, tosses a horseshoe during the tournament Friday. Rich Cooley/Daily

Horseshoe league co-chairman Willard Dodson said around 25 Strasburg Moose members regularly throw horseshoes in Moose events. He and several others participated in Lynchburg for the Virginia state competition in early June, and Dodson won his class. Dodson has helped to organize horseshoe league events for the Strasburg Lodge for around 10 years.

“It’s like a family reunion when you go, you meet people like once a year and it’s nice,” he said.

Strasburg competitor Steve Day said he spins the horseshoe like a Frisbee instead of flipping it when he throws, a method his father taught him.

“I do it more for fun,” he said. “A lot of people are very, very competitive.”

According to Aaron Russell, a Moose International Activities Committee member from Connecticut in attendance, many other Moose Lodge locations don’t have the required number of horseshoe pits or hospitality accommodations for the tournament. Orndorff said the location and mountain view can’t be beat.

Kaylee Smith, 16, left, and Adrianna Long, 17, both of Strasburg, tally score sheets during the tournament. Rich Cooley/Daily

“When people come here, they love it,” he said. “We always have rave reviews on it.”

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com

Linda Castle, 69, of Martinsburg, W.Va., Moose Lodge No. 120, sights her horseshoe during the competition. Rich Cooley/Daily

Carl Jones, 62, a member of Lynchburg Moose Lodge No. 1727, uses a horseshoe hook to pick up the thrown shoe. Rich Cooley/Daily