The new year is a perfect time for new adventures. For the Quier family of New Tripoli, PA that new adventure involves the fun sport of pigeon racing!
I met the Quiers back in October at Northwestern Elementary School’s Family Reading Night, where I was the featured author. That evening, over 300 people came to the event to learn about the unforgettable forgotten sport of pigeon racing. Among them was kindergartner Danica Quier, her siblings, Lane, 4, and Kinley, 1, and their parents Chris and Steph. What they thought would be a fun family outing ended up inspiring a new idea that changed their lives.
When I teach people about the 200-year-old sport of pigeon racing, most have never heard of it. But this wasn’t the case for Steph Quier whose grandfather, John Herrlinger, had raced pigeons for much of his life and had many trophies to show for it. My presentation reminded Steph of the time she’d spent with her grandfather and his fellow pigeon fanciers on race day and their jovial spirit as they awaited their birds’ return.
During my presentation, the Quiers learned that pigeon racing was once a popular family pastime that is in danger of dying out due to the rise of digital entertainment. When they saw how much their children enjoyed interacting with my birds and watching them race, they decided to continue John’s legacy and take up the sport as a family. “My grandfather loved the sport and always hoped one of his grandchildren would get into it,” said Steph. “Sadly, he passed away two years ago, but I believe he’s smiling down on us.”
In the months that followed, pigeon racing became a Quier family obsession. They have been working together to build a custom loft with help from Roy Ritter, a local pigeon fancier who used to race with John. Roy drew up a building plan and Chris, who used to work as a builder, is teaching his family about the construction process.
Once construction is complete, they plan to name it DLK Flying Loft after the Quier children—Danica, Lane, and Kinley. They’ll start with a team of 10 racing pigeons, and with Roy’s help some of the racers they adopt will be offspring from Steph’s grandfather’s birds. The Quiers plan to race their birds with Mingo Homing Club, the same Lehigh Valley club to which John belonged.
“Pigeon racing is a sport the whole family can get into and will enjoy for years to come,” said Steph. “There are so many great people involved with the sport who are willing to help newcomers get started because they want to see it live on with the next generation.”
If you’re thinking about taking up pigeon racing, the Quiers suggest visiting the American Racing Pigeon Union and the International Federation of American Homing Pigeon Fanciers. They offer resources that can help you get started and find a mentor in your area.