ST. GEORGE -- The National Horseshoe Pitchers Association is preparing to host its world tournament beginning July 22 at the Dixie Convention Center in St. George.
More than 1,000 competitors from 46 U.S. states, four Canadian Provinces, Norway and South Africa will convene at the "Red Rock & Ringers" event to contend for the world championship title. For the first time, six representatives from Namibia will compete.
The tournament -- which continues through Aug. 3 -- returns to Utah following a 46-year hiatus. The world championship was held in Murray 13 times from 1947 to 1966. This is the first time St. George will host the international event, expected to generate millions of dollars in economic impact.
"The World Horseshoe Tournament is an opportunity to introduce a fun and friendly group to our area," said Kevin Lewis, director of sports and event marketing for the St. George Area Tourism Office. "Participants come from around the world, and many have never been here before. They will bring a nice boost to our economy during a typically slow time for convention business. We're excited to welcome them and showcase the scenic attractions, recreation opportunities and our down to earth hospitality."
The NHPA, the recognized governing body of the sport of horseshoe pitching in the United States, will transform the Dixie Center for the tournament, constructing 42 horseshoe courts. All matches will be played indoors at the air-conditioned Dixie Center, 1835 S Convention Center Dr.
Admission is free and spectators are encouraged to attend and cheer on the top horseshoe-pitching competitors. Concessions and souvenirs will be available.
Youth to seniors will compete for the title in their division. Divisions include girls, boys, elders, men, women, senior men, senior women and cadets.
Adult competition begins July 22 at 7 a.m. and will continue each morning throughout the preliminary rounds. A small break will occur for the NHPA convention and Hall of Fame Banquet on Sunday.
Championship rounds begin Aug. 1.
Most divisions will play 15, 40-shoe games during a three-day time period. Win-loss records determine final standings. The top four, five or six positions in adult divisions will receive cash prizes depending on class size. For a full schedule and cash prize breakout, visit www.horseshoepitching.com.
As part of the celebration, the NHPA will offer a screening of the horseshoe pitching film, "Pitching Hope," during the first week of the tournament. DVDs will be available for purchase.
This year, the NHPA will honor Utah native Arch Stokes for his contribution to the horseshoe pitching sport.
After World War II, Arch Stokes built courts in Murray to host the world tournament, which was held at that site for 13 consecutive years.
Arch's grandson, Louis Cook, 81, lives in St. George. He along with his two brothers will receive recognition and accept their grandfather's induction into the Hall of Fame on July 28.
Each year communities from around the country bid on the opportunity to host the World Championship Horseshoe Tournament. To secure the bid, host communities market and promote their destination to the NHPA governing board and state delegates who then vote on the site for future tournaments. The St. George Tourism Office won the bid two years ago following a presentation at the World Tournament.
Funding to host the event comes from the St. George Tourism Office with support from the Utah Sports Commission.