After 30 years of enjoying horseshoes, Gene and Donna Kiefat of Mapleton have been inducted into the North Dakota Horseshoe Pitchers Hall of Fame. The couple was honored at a banquet held at the Sons of Norway in Fargo on Saturday, Aug. 30.
The induction ceremonies and banquet were held in conjunction with the 2008 North Dakota State Horseshoe Tournament held at Oak Grove Park on Saturday and Sunday. Gene competed in the tournament on Saturday, taking third place in the Class D division, while his daughter, Heather Johnson took third in the Women's Championship class on Sunday morning. Their grandson, Jordan, won the state championship in the Junior Cadets division.
For the Kiefat family, horseshoes have always been a family affair. According to their daughter, Heather Johnson, horseshoes became a favorite pastime at family get-togethers years ago, when her uncles used to pitch horseshoes in their backyard.
"Growing up, we traveled nearly every weekend in the summer to horseshoe tournaments. Horseshoes have always been a big part in our lives and its fun to pass this tradition on to my children. I have a six-year-old who can't wait to pitch with us next year," Johnson said.
Donna Kiefat was one of the founding members of the Fargo Women's League in 1979 and has held several offices in the local organization. In 1993, she was named the North Dakota Women's Horseshoe State Champion.
Her husband, Gene, has been pitching on horseshoe leagues for 30 years. He has served as the statistician for the Fargo Men's League for over 20 years, and worked as a groundskeeper.
Together, the couple has pitched in hundreds of sanctioned and non-sanctioned horseshoe tournaments in six states and four world tournaments. Between them, they have participated in eight area leagues, and actively promoted the sport of horseshoes, recruiting friends and family members to join leagues.
Their son, Matt, has won the Junior State Championship twice. He and his wife, Amber, recently moved to Moorhead and are no longer eligible to participate in state tournaments in North Dakota, but continue to compete with family members in horseshoe leagues.
Although Donna is no longer able to play horseshoes because of wrist and knee injuries, she remains active in the sport by helping with scorekeeping and as an avid spectator. Gene continues to compete in tournaments and is currently on a three-generation team with his daughter, Heather, son, Matt, and grandson, Jordan.
Judy Sellden of Fargo was also inducted into the North Dakota Horseshoe Pitchers Hall of Fame on Saturday. She is the current president of the Red River Valley Horseshoe League in Fargo.