A Northfield woman captured the 2019 Defeat of Jesse James Days horseshoe Monday after nearly 20 years of participating in the annual search that includes several near-misses.
Becca Brinkman of Northfield put in substantial effort this year to win the Horseshoe Hunt’s $1,500 prize. She found the horseshoe at about 9:30 a.m. at the edge of the woods at Odd Fellows Park.
She had scoured the area all day Sunday checking for the horseshoe and returned Monday morning. She took a break, got coffee with a friend, went home and retrieved a tool she uses to remove ice from her driveway before returning and sweeping near the intersection of Lincoln and Forest.
“I screamed bloody murder and then called (DJJD Horseshoe Hunt Cluemaster Tim Freeland),” Brinkman said Tuesday morning in a phone call. She added she was alerted to the area by the fourth clue in a series of six posted by Freeland. The clues depicted some of the history tied to Northfield’s famous thwarting of the Jesse James Gang bank raid.
This year’s account was of Frank James, the oldest brother of Jesse James who participated in the ultimately unsuccessful bank raid on First National Bank of Northfield Sept. 7, 1876, that ended with much of the gang dead or captured. The account intertwined facts with fiction. The hints were hidden in the fictional parts.
Brinkman said she will likely spend her winnings on a vacation.
“It’s been a total dream,” she said.
Freeland spoke highly of the work Brinkman put into finding the horseshoe. He noted she had rain boots, bug spray and had not showered when she captured the horseshoe.
“She’s been a hunter for a long time,” he said.
“If anybody earned it, she earned it.”
Freeland noted the only other time six clues have been needed to solve the riddle was in 2005.
The hunt was added to DJJD week activities 22 years ago for Northfielders who leave the city for the weekend due to the high amount of traffic the event brings to town. It is considered the unofficial kickoff to the celebration.
“It draws the focus into the celebration and kind of creates a frenzy,” Freeland said.
Freeland estimated close to 1,000 people participated in the hunt throughout the week.