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Summer Nights

Every Thursday night on Sewalls Falls Road, it’s horseshoes time

  • From left: Bob Follansbee, Jr. of Concord and his father Bob Follansbee, Sr. of Concord play a game of horseshoes at the home of Scott Cloutier on Sewalls Falls Road in Concord on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. <br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

    From left: Bob Follansbee, Jr. of Concord and his father Bob Follansbee, Sr. of Concord play a game of horseshoes at the home of Scott Cloutier on Sewalls Falls Road in Concord on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013.

    (TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

  • Seth Hill of Concord takes aim before throwing a horseshoe during a game at the home of Scott Cloutier on Sewalls Falls Road in Concord on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. <br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

    Seth Hill of Concord takes aim before throwing a horseshoe during a game at the home of Scott Cloutier on Sewalls Falls Road in Concord on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013.

    (TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

  • Ken Cooper of Loudon holds horseshoes while playing a game at the home of Scott Cloutier on Sewalls Falls Road in Concord on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. <br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

    Ken Cooper of Loudon holds horseshoes while playing a game at the home of Scott Cloutier on Sewalls Falls Road in Concord on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013.

    (TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

  • From left: Bob Follansbee, Jr. of Concord and his father Bob Follansbee, Sr. of Concord play a game of horseshoes at the home of Scott Cloutier on Sewalls Falls Road in Concord on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. <br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)
  • Seth Hill of Concord takes aim before throwing a horseshoe during a game at the home of Scott Cloutier on Sewalls Falls Road in Concord on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. <br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)
  • Ken Cooper of Loudon holds horseshoes while playing a game at the home of Scott Cloutier on Sewalls Falls Road in Concord on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. <br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

Every Thursday evening at Scott Cloutier’s place, it’s BYOH – bring your own horseshoes.

“I like the game. Everybody’s here for the same reason, to play and have some fun,” said Charlie Tatro, an electrician from Boscawen who’s been a regular at the weekly game for four or five years. “Drink some beer, too.”

Cloutier, a surveyor, lives on Sewalls Falls Road in Concord and has two pairs of horseshoe pits in his front yard. Every Thursday during the summer months, men gather after work to pitch horseshoes, have a few drinks, eat some chips and talk shop – rules, equipment, the habits and skills of other players – until the sun sets.

It all started about eight years ago.

“My son, when he was younger, came home and told me how good he was getting. So I had to put pins in and show him he wasn’t,” Cloutier said. “It evolved from there.”

There were 14 players this week; Cloutier said they usually get eight to 18. Some knew each other from local horseshoe tournaments. Others were friends of the Cloutier family. A few had simply stopped by one day to see what was going on.

Dick Hanson is one of the them. A painter, he lives in Concord and has been playing horseshoes “a long time, 30 years? My dad shot, and I always wanted to be better than him.”

Hanson said he used to

drive past the Cloutier place and notice the horseshoe pits.

“I always wondered about this spot,” he said.

Maybe three years ago, Hanson saw a game going and stopped in. Now, he’s something of a regular.

The games started small, but they’ve grown. A couple of years ago, the Cloutiers put in a second set of pits to accommodate two games going simultaneously.

They play two-on-two, with teams formed by random draw, in a double-elimination tournament. They do keep score, but there’s no money at stake – just bragging rights.

“Nobody takes it too seriously, though some of these guys are seriously good,” Tatro said.

The Cloutier game isn’t the only one in town – “if you look around, you can find a horseshoes game any night of the week,” Tatro said. But it is one of the more visible ones: Just about every car driving past on Sewalls Falls Road on Thursday slowed down to watch, and a couple beeped their horns in greeting.

“That happens all the time,” said Kevin Cloutier, Scott’s son. “We have no idea who they are.”

Horseshoes is a warm-weather sport in New England. By November or so, it’s too cold to pitch outdoors, at least until the spring thaw.

So how do enthusiasts fill the winter months?

“Darts,” Tatro said.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com, or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

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