Darren Doyle, story: photos submitted by Lisa Potter:
Most folks have some sort of gathering with family or friends during holidays, especially July 4th; however, it's not often you have the same family celebrating their same gathering 40 years later. That's just what the Smith and Robinson families have done with a simple horseshoe tournament that started four decades ago.
We spoke with Lisa Potter, a Louisville resident whose grandparents purchased two lake lots in Cave Hollow Bay in the late 70s. Lisa says her grandparents, William and Delores Robinson, had five children, three of which that served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War.
"Family was very important to my grandparents and that is why she wanted these camping spots, as a way to get her children all together for the weekends," she said.
It was the summer of 1982 when Mrs. Robinson decided to try to get all her children at a gathering at the lots in 1982, after not seeing them all together in more than five years.
Once everyone was able to gather on July 4th weekend in 1982, Lisa's uncle Danny Smith decided to have a horseshoe tournament; charging one dollar per person and teaming the family members up in a blind draw.
"They didn't plan it or anything so they didn't have trophies, but my uncle took two beer bottles and attached bottle rockets to each of them, and that was what the first place team won," Lisa said. "Fast forward 40 years later and we've had this tournament and family gathering every year."
She said when her grandparents got married, they became a blended family of Smiths and Robinsons, and that's how the "Smith Family Robinson Horseshoe Tournament" got its name.
The beer bottle and bottle rocket trophies have since been replaced with real ones, which are given out to first, second, and third places. Trophies and cash prizes are also given out for those who score the most ringers (a horseshoe around the stake-3 points) for both men and women, the most leaners in a weekend (when a horseshoe is leaning on the stake-2 points) and the coveted "triple crown" trophy for one that wins the other two awards in a weekend.
"In 40 years, my uncle Danny Smith is the only one to win it," she said.
Lisa also said that the lots have now been passed down to their third generation owners and the annual family horseshoe tournament is now on its fifth generation of players.
"I know a lot of people start family traditions, but as the first generation dies off they usually stop," she added. "It was hard for us to continue when our grandfather died but we knew our grandmother loved having all of her kids and grandchildren together for that whole weekend. We lost her in 2015 and we were tempted to stop because it was hard without either of them, but we knew what it meant to them, so we continued. I mean, who else can say that every year they get to spend one weekend with all of their aunts, uncles, cousins, and extended family?"
While sometimes the competition is likely to get serious between the family members, the tournament is much more about the bond that a family can have than it is about trophies and prizes.
"Plus, my uncle used to joke about ESPN covering us one day," she added.
Lisa also said that the family presented her uncle Danny with a "legacy award" this year for not only creating the tradition, but continuing it, now for its 40th consecutive event.
Dozens of members of the Smith and Robinson families attended this year and they're already looking forward to the 41st.