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Teams air it out in Fun Fest Cornhole Tournament

July 19th, 2009 12:00 am by Kristen Buckles






KINGSPORT — The Fun Fest Cornhole Tournament claimed the title of the largest Tennessee cornhole tournament on Saturday with 128 teams playing and an additional 25 teams on the waiting list.


Bags arched through the air as players aimed for the hole in the platform approximately 30 feet away.


Getting the bag in the hole earned players three points while getting it on the platform earned them one. Points canceled out and the game continued until one team reached at least 21 points.


The double-elimination, ACA-sanctioned tournament, sponsored by Eastman Credit Union, Chef’s Pizzeria, Express Signs and Knetic, guaranteed everyone at least three games. A Lovable Losers category helped separate the novices from the experts.


“I love this game,” event director James Phillips said. “I started playing it two years ago. I organized it last year and we expected about 20 teams and we ended up with 96. It’s a lot of fun. You can take it everywhere and play it for hours and everyone has fun.”


Last year, there was a $100 incentive to win. This year, however, the stakes got higher.


In first place, Gary Ford and Charles Helton won $500 and a trip to the Cornhole World Championship. The other winners will be published later in the week.


The mystery behind the game’s name is simple. The bags that the players toss into the holes have feed corn inside. The name, therefore, comes from the goal of the game –– to get the corn in the hole.


“It’s not as easy as it looks,” Pattie Burton said. She and Don Burton formed the team called Korny Crew.


They, like many other teams at the tournament, built their own platform at home.


Two brothers who call themselves Team B.A. own a completely homemade set.


“You want to get something that’s kind of slick,” Matt Ball said of the wood needed for the platform.


“We had our mom make the bags,” he said.


“Yeah, we’re not very good seamstresses,” Josh Ball added.


While some teams had played on their own equipment, others had never played before.


“We have sort of varying ranges of talent out here,” judge David Brown said. “There are some guys here that didn’t know the rules to the guys here who said they didn’t get to practice this week.”


Brown then indicated nearby player Shannon Bailey.


“He made three in a row and a couple were struggling to get it on the board,” Brown said.


Bailey and teammate Jeff Poe call themselves the Bull-Head Plows. They have played in three prior tournaments and were the champions every time.


“We play a lot, which results in practice. Twice a week, I guess,” Poe said.





In a typical week, that means they get about six hours of practice. Others at the tournament have not had much, if any, practice at all.


“This is a gage,” Paul Vachon of the Supernova team said. “We just wanted to try this out to see how much we needed to prepare and practice and train for next year.”


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