Monday, September 22, 2014


Locker Room

Get your cornhole on at the Iowa State Fair

8/14/2013

The Cornhole tournament is in its fifth year at the fair.

The Cornhole tournament is in its fifth year at the fair.

Gather ’round, folks, and hear the tale of America’s almost forgotten pastime, cornhole. Back when America was in her infancy, after the first harsh winter, settlers needed something to distract their minds from the madness that might set in. With plenty to drink, something was still missing: competition. It wasn’t until George Washington shot an ear of corn into an empty moonshine barrel that cornhole found its start. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The claim that our forefathers not only founded democracy but also one of America’s now most popular games to play while drinking seem like a stretch, but a quick Internet search will reveal many stories on cornhole’s inception.

Some credit 14th century Germany or Irish immigrants killing time on their work break. Others say hillbilly-rednecks in Kentucky came up with the idea. So why not Washington and a moonshine barrel?

No matter what it’s called or where it comes from, it’s here now and the competition is as fierce as eating two sticks of fried butter in one sitting: exciting, filling and impossible to stop until it’s finished.

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Tonya Cook, the special events director at the Iowa State Fair, came up with the idea for a cornhole tournament as a way to get more people involved with the events during the Fair. Now in its fifth year, it seems as though she’s done just that.

“We have participants of all ages, from 10 to over 70, and from all over the state of Iowa and even a few from other states,” said Ryan Beck, organizer for this event. “Last year we had well over 300 participants between the singles and doubles tournaments.”

Cornhole, or Bags, is similar to horseshoes in many ways except you use wooden boxes called cornhole platforms — which sit at a soft incline, with a hole in the upper middle as your target — and corn bags or bean bags instead of horseshoes and metal stakes. Participants take turns pitching their corn bags (underhand) at the cornhole platform (about 30 feet away) until a contestant reaches 21 points. A corn bag in the hole scores three points, while one coming to a rest on the platform scores one.

As with most athletics, this is a sport dominated by those who can stay calm under pressure and those who are smart enough to bring along a pair of sunglasses. Beck chalks up the success of this tournament each year to the atmosphere of the Iowa State Fair and the location of the game. The event spans roughly 300 feet on the Grand Concourse, which is always bustling with people.

“It is a fun outdoor activity, which can be enjoyed by most all ages,” Beck said.

While there are ribbons and a plaque given out to the winners, what people are really competing for is pride. This is a sport where luck meets skill, and it’s anyone’s game. So what’s the best way to prepare for a match?

Beer sounds about right. CV            

David Rowley is an Iowa native with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and a master’s in film journalism from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

 
Iowa State Fair Cornhole Tournament
Register on Saturday, Aug. 17. Singles Tournament begins at 10 a.m. Doubles begins at 1 p.m. Registration is held the day of the event from 9-10 a.m. for both singles and doubles, but doubles participants can also register between 12-12:30 p.m. Once the registration is closed, a non-seeded bracket will be created, and they will go over the rules. Rules defined in the following website are generally used: www.playcornhole.org/rules.shtml
 

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