No ‘one-horse town’: Create Buckhannon hopes to spur community engagement with new horseshoe pit, return of Festival Fridays

BUCKHANNON – Visitors and residents alike are encouraged to ‘horse around,’ at Jawbone Park by enjoying the new horseshow pit that replaced the bocce ball court.

CJ Rylands, Buckhannon city councilman and executive director of Create Buckhannon, said the horseshoe pit was installed about six weeks ago after there appeared to be a lack of interest in the bocce court.

“Create Buckhannon built the bocce court, and no one was using it, so we tried a couple of different things that just didn’t resonate, so we looked at some of the distances and they were similar for horseshoe,” Rylands said. “We thought maybe more people would use it, so Lowe’s donated all the materials we needed and Scott Preston, myself and a few others went down there and and put it together.”

Create Buckhannon member Scott Preston said the pit is regulation length, which may be a little farther people anticipate.

“It is a regulation horseshoe pit, and I’ve been out there pitching horseshoes, once thinking myself a horseshoe master, and all of a sudden that 40-foot stake was a long way away,” Preston said. “It does take a while to get used to. There are lockers and mailboxes there, so if somebody wants to go down and put their horseshoes in one of them, they are welcome to do that and put a lock on it.”

The new Horseshoe Pit that replaced the Bocce Ball court.

Rylands said there are horseshoes available for public use and Create Buckhannon plans to arrange team competitions during Festival Fridays.

“Folks will have horseshoes in the box where the bocce balls used to be stored,” Rylands said. “We want to have a team competition going for festival Fridays every week with a $50 prize, so we’ll try to encourage teams to begin participating. The horseshoes are right in the corner of Jawbone Park; there’s a trellis over the top, and there’s lights there now so we can play into the evening.”

Preston said they are hoping to have more details available for team competitions soon.

“We just have to figure out how to do that right now,” he said. “We’re trying to launch Festival Fridays on June 4, and with all this COVID stuff, we’re still working our way through that, but we hope the horseshoe pit will be used by the community. We hope we can get some interest in it – there are lights out there, anybody can use it.”

Rylands said Create Buckhannon is looking forward to bringing Festival Fridays back to the community.

“We want to get back at it and try to create these opportunities for citizens to come out and talk with each other in a public setting, listen to music, get something to eat and talk to neighbors or people you haven’t seen,” Rylands said. “The underlying focus has always been to bring the community together because a communities’ strength is directly proportional to the strength of the connections between its citizens, so it’s a community-strengthening tactic or a strategy to get people together, connected and working together.”

Festival Fridays is slated for 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday evenings beginning June 4 and running through Aug. 27, according to its website.

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