Horseshoe court plans shared

Register Reporter

When horseshoe enthusiasts head to Riverside Park to compete, they’ll now do so at the Clyde Gerdsen Memorial Horseshoe Court.
Iola commissioners agreed to have the courts designated in honor of Gerdsen, who was instrumental in organizing and promoting the sport in Iola before his death March 3.
The request to rename the courts came from Dave Mathewson, president of the Riverside Horseshoe Club, and a handful of other local sport aficianados.
Mathewson’s request was two-fold. First, to honor Gerdsen, who he described as one of the sport’s most avid backers, and second, to look into improving the nine horseshoe courts at the park.
Mathewson would like to see the court covered, to allow activities at the park year-round.
If the courts were improved, Iola could host multiple state and national competitions, he said.
Currently, there’s only one such covered horseshoe court in the state.
Mathewson estimated the cost and labor to put a roof over the courts at about $54,000.
He spoke about the sport’s rich heritage in the area — the first ever world horseshoe championships was held in 1909 in Bronson — and the need to drum up interest among younger folks.
With the right type of improvements, the area could also be used for such things as archery practice or indoor baseball training as well, Mathewson said.
Commissioners were noncommittal to Mathewson’s request, but encouraged him to continue his pursuit. They wondered if the city could qualify for state or federal grants to help fund a covering for the courts, or whether courts could be built on recently acquired ground as part of the city’s flood buyout.