SHERIDAN — The sport of horseshoes doesn’t embody the same level of popularity compared to its heyday a few decades ago. Fewer and fewer individuals have gravitated toward the sport, and that’s something Arlie Johnson Jr. would like to change.
He got an opportunity Tuesday at Kendrick Park.
Every other Tuesday, the Sheridan County Museum holds an event for kids. From educational sit-downs to fun hobbies to old-fashioned sports, the Tidbit Tuesday program has existed for nearly a half decade.
Tuesday’s festivities featured the sport of horseshoes with Johnson heading up the day.
The museum chose horseshoes because the sport has a presence, albeit small, in Sheridan, and provides a perfect way to get young ones in the rodeo mindset ahead of one of Sheridan’s most iconic weeks — Sheridan WYO Rodeo Week.
“We decide on what is culturally relevant to the Sheridan area,” said Erin Schock, curator of education at the museum. “We also decide on what is relevant to our community and to Sheridan history, and we landed on horseshoes to do it leading up to rodeo.”
Johnson has played the sport for 60 years, beginning when he was a small child in Minnesota. He grew up on a farm, playing against his brother and traveling to nearby tournaments with his father.
Johnson has seen the sport transition from a popular one that many small neighboring communities participated in to one that not many know how or even want to play.
“There’s too many other things that people are doing now,” Johnson said. “Back then, it’s like town team baseball. It was horseshoe Wednesday nights and you go play horseshoes, and there was a lot of people that did it. It was more of a social event more than anything, but now you don’t have that as much anymore.”
Johnson retired and moved to Sheridan seven years ago. He participated in the Senior Olympics, held in Sheridan, a few years back and won the mixed division with his girlfriend last year in Laramie.
The Sheridan County Museum heard about Johnson and asked him to lead Tidbit Tuesday. Johnson gave instruction on scoring and proper form while providing more individual schooling once the kids broke up into smaller groups.
“The horseshoe pits are here, and it’s kind of a lost art,” Schock said. “And it’s something little kids aren’t doing anymore, so we thought it would be really cool to kind of keep that alive. We wanted to keep that interest alive and to bring Arlie to talk about that.”
Schock will stay busy with Tidbit Tuesday. On July 10, the Tot Spot activity will involve children ages 0-4 and focus on information about bird nests. The same age group that learned about horseshoes — ages 7-14 — will be introduced to whittling in a couple weeks.