Bologna sandwiches. Ragtime music. Whittled broomsticks. What do these have in common? They are all mainstays of the World Championship Dainty Contest, an event held on the last Monday of July in Louisville, KY.
What appears to be a niche game to some proves to be a highlight of the summer – and the year – for the Schnitzelburg community. Hundreds gather on the sidewalk lining George Hauck Way, located beside Hauck’s, a late-nineteenth century hardware store renovated to become a neighborhood watering hole. Their hope? To see a Dainty flying through the sky and to see who is crowned the next Dainty world champion.
What is a Dainty Contest?
Dainty is a game that originated from German immigrants and dates back to the early 1800s; it is one of the German cultural mainstays that lives on in the Germantown-Schnitzelburg corridor of Derby City. The Louisville Dainty was revived by George Hauck and Charlie Vettiner in 1971 and has been held annually ever since.
The game requires two items: a dainty and a bat. The dainty is a 5” stick tapered on both ends; the bat is a 3’ stick, often made from an old broomstick, tapered on one end. Players place the dainty on the ground and tap it with the bat in attempt to launch the dainty airborne. Once airborne, players swing the bat at the dainty hoping to make contact. The person to launch the dainty the furthest distance is crowned the Dainty World Champion.
While the game itself seems simple, there are several rules to follow. All players must be 45 years or older to participate in the contest. While playing, contestants must use only one arm and are allotted three strikes before considered out. A strike consists of any contact between the bat and the dainty. The contestant that launches the dainty the furthest distance, within bounds, receives eternal Schnitzelburg glory and a commemorative trophy; the contestant that hits the dainty the shortest distance receives the traditional basket of lemons.
What to Expect at the World Championship Dainty Contest
While all are welcome to participate in the Dainty Contest given adherence to the above age parameter, equal fun and fellowship are provided to those that solely spectate. The Dainty Festival has become a three-day neighborhood event featuring food, drink, games, and live music on Saturday and Sunday. The following Monday marks the end of the Dainty Festival and is when the official Dainty Contest occurs. The event starts with the national anthem, which is performed at 5 PM; neighborhood
dignitaries play at 5:15 PM; the open Dainty Competition commences at 5:30 PM.
Win or lose, participating in the Dainty or spectating the event proves to be a bucket list item for many Louisvillians and Derby City visitors. It’s a celebration of community, togetherness, and tradition; it’s also a time to enjoy the iconic meal of the
event, a bologna sandwich on white bread, regular potato chips, and a dill pickle. Wash it all down with a beer at the onsite beer garden, another signature experience of the Dainty Festival, and in line with neighborhood’s German heritage and culture.
The World Championship Dainty Contest and Festival is one of Louisville’s most beloved – and quirky – events. Thanks to the community-minded legacy of Mr. Hauck and Mr. Vettiner, the Schnitzelburg community will remain home to this one-of-a-kind event for decades to come.
Long live the Dainty!
Attend the 2022 Dainty Contest + Festival | July 23-25