The Horseshoe Tour will be back in Newberry this weekend with the 19th annual SummerFun Tournament, held in Marion Davis Park, 2905 Fair Avenue in Newberry.

The two-day weekend tournament was held for the first time in 1996 in York, SC as part of a local festival, according to Ron Taylor, director of operations of The Horseshoe Tour.

After two years, it was moved to Clover, SC through the year 2000, when Taylor said the tournament grew. As the number of entries increased each year, they were unable to accommodate the players locally in Clover with only one motel available, Taylor said.

It was at this time that Taylor said they reached out to City of Newberry’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director, Scott Sawyer about hosting the tournament in Newberry.

“The rest is history and we have been in Newberry since,” Taylor said.

The tournament features some of the best horseshoe players in the world, competing in 40’ and 30’ Classes as well as an Open Division competition. Because of the sanctioning of the tournament through the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association, only NHPA members may enter the tournament, Taylor said, but visitors are welcome to attend to watch the tournament, which will start at 10 a.m. Saturday morning for the qualifying rounds. Events will start again Sunday morning also at 10 a.m. for the finals.

Taylor said some of the top ranked players in the world will be heading to Newberry for the tournament including two current Divisional World Champions, Maxine Griffith (TN) and Barbara Taylor (SC). Four former Division World Champions will also be traveling to Newberry for the competition to include Joan Elmore (TN), Dalton Rakestraw (KY), Jim Cooper (TN) and Tom Westbrook (SC).

What makes a tour event great, Taylor said is the diversity of a lot of players traveling from out of state. Many states will be represented at this weekend’s event with some travelling from North and South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Alabama and Connecticut.

For almost 20 years, Taylor said Newberry has had an ongoing relationship with their tournament and is the only site who has hosted a single event for the over 10 years.

Taylor said players have commented that Newberry, SC has one of the nicest horseshoe pitching facilities in the south and that not only the players in town, but their families seemed to love the small-town atmosphere in Newberry.

“With all the friendly people, along with some great southern style food and the Newberry Opera House,” he said.

Sawyer said the SummerFun tournament had really put the City of Newberry on the map in the horseshoe world.

“We’ve had some of the top players, including World Champions who consistently compete in the event. Over the years, participants have come from over 15 states and as far away as Idaho,” he said.

As a fun fact, Sawyer said the 2008 SummerFun Men’s Division winner was Walter Ray Williams, Jr. While Williams is a six-time World Horseshoe Pitching Champion and a member of the Horseshoe Pitcher’s Hall of Fame, he is also recognized in the sporting world as the all-time leader in tournament titles and all-time money leader on the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour, where he is also in the hall of fame.

This year’s tournament once again falls during the city’s annual Pork in the Park event, which Taylor says participants pushed for as they had enjoyed the festival in year’s past.

“Our players pushed for us to return to this weekend, so they and their families could attend the festival as well as pitching horseshoes,” Taylor said.

Pork in the Park and the SummerFun Horseshoe event, Taylor said went well hand in hand and he hoped the two could continue to be held in conjunction with one another in the future.

More tournament details can be found online at www.thehorseshoetour.com.