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The Miniature Thunder Mug Trophy




Throughout history, athletes have competed for riches. For power. For glory.

But it’s probably safe to say that only two athletes have competed for a thunder mug- and they did it at the Fulton County Fair.

(For those unfamiliar with life before indoor plumbing, “thunder mug” is slang for the container people used to put under their beds at night in case nature called and they didn’t want to make the trip to the outhouse. Political campaigns of yesteryear sometimes commissioned thunder mugs with the face of opponents painted inside.)

After horseshoe pitching was introduced to the Fulton County Fair in 1958, there was a surge of interest in the sport in our area, and competition in matches could be fierce.

Two of the most zealous pitchers were Jim Figy and Carl Smith.

In 1961, when Jim was vice president of the fair board and Carl, president, Jim challenged Carl to a series of matches. The winner was to receive a trophy, which, as you may have guessed by now, was a miniature thunder mug.

It didn’t have anyone’s face on the bottom, but it was to have the winner’s name and year of the match inscribed on the outside.

The real kicker, however, was that the awards ceremony took place in front of the Grandstand and drew a real crowd.

Jim was the winner the first year, and Carl, the next two.

However, considering the prize and the fact that everyone in Fulton County knew about it, there must have been some debate as to whether “winner” was the appropriate appellation for the man who emerged victorious from the horseshoe fray.

The competition ended after three years, when Carl left the fair board, but the memory of the Miniature Thunder Mug Trophy lives on in the memory of many a fairgoer.


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