Many are familiar with the Running of the Roses in May in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s better known as the Kentucky Derby and brings folks in from all over the country donned in their finest hats, frocks, and tails, for the quickest two minutes in sports. The well dressed sip mint juleps and eat refined foods.
But the last Monday in July offers another fun Louisville sports day. Its a lot less known, and is a bit less high brow than the Derby. It’s called the World Dainty Championships, and is in its 48th year, although the game, brought by German immigrants, has been played in the area since the mid 1800s. Onlookers gather around Hauck’s Handy Store in the Schnitzelburg Neighborhood of Louisville, drink cheap beer, fried bologna sandwiches and potato chips, cheering on the participants.
The game consists of two sticks – a long one, and a shorty, or dainty one. The participants all must be over 45. The long stick is used to strike the short stick, making it airborne. The participant then has three tries to strike the small airborne stick and send it flying down the street. The winner is the one who sends it sailing the farthest.
It was thought that the game was named after a small ice cream treat by the same name that was peddled in the neighborhood by push cart vendors. George Hauck, now in his 90s, started the event at his Handy Store in 1971 and still reigns over with his cane. Politicians and Catholic nuns alike get involved, while everyone around is munching on their fried bologna. The Little Sisters of the Poor benefit from the donations given during the event.
The fried bologna has deep meaning. When folks in the neighborhood had nothing, George would give them fried bologna sandwiches from his store to hold them over. There is an air of childhood play and neighborhood camaraderie that puts it on my bucket list of food events to experience.