Courtesy photo
                                Competitors try their hand at cornhole during preliminary tournament play earlier this month in Port Orchard, sponsored by Peninsula BevCo.

Courtesy photo Competitors try their hand at cornhole during preliminary tournament play earlier this month in Port Orchard, sponsored by Peninsula BevCo.

Kitsap Cornhole Classic

Port Orchard to host finals on July 27

Cornhole: Known regionally as Bags, Sack Toss or Bean Bag, it’s a lawn game in which players take turns throwing bags of plastic resin, or bean bags, at a raised board, or platform, with a hole in the far end. A bag in the hole scores 3 points, while one on the board scores 1 point.

PORT ORCHARD — While the game of cornhole might not rival the excitement of, say, women’s World Cup soccer, for many folks across the country, this simple form of down-home competition is kind of a big deal.

And in Port Orchard and South Kitsap, the game of cornhole is gaining a measure of notoriety, thanks to the area’s first staging of the Kitsap County Cornhole Classic, organized by Matt Murphy, executive director of the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce.

Murphy has organized a series of preliminary tournaments at locations in Port Orchard and Bremerton this month that will culminate with a finals competition on Saturday, July 27, at the city’s Waterfront Park.

The Chamber of Commerce head was brainstorming ideas to come up with a fun, community-wide activity that includes a competitive element. His inspiration was the Spokane Hoopfest, the annual outdoor 3-on-3 basketball tournament that takes place in that city’s downtown area. It’s a huge draw for the city, enticing more than 200,000 spectators to the Lilac City each year.

“It’s a huge thing,” Murphy said of the Spokane event. “We can’t do Hoopfest, obviously, since the structural requirements are huge. But what about a cornhole tournament? It’s an up-and-coming sporting event.”

Murphy made a lighthearted reference to the sport’s tavern-bar and tailgating origins and blue-collar roots.

“It may soon become an Olympic sporting event — at least for red-neck Americans,” he laughed.

But while the sport has evolved into a popular tournament game, it also is well-known as a fun backyard activity usually played with bean bags. There is a difference, though, between tournament cornhole and the backyard game. Tournament boards are 2 feet by 4 feet in size and the official distance between the competitor and the board is 27 feet. Store-bought game boards are smaller — 2 feet by 3 feet — and the suggested toss distance is 20 feet or so, Murphy said.

Serious competition

“There are sanctioned tournaments, but I don’t want to go there [with the Port Orchard event]. There are some people that take this thing really seriously. But this year, it’s just going to be for fun here.”

In this initial year of the tournament, Murphy said 10 preliminary tournaments, including four in Bremerton, have already begun to pare the field of competitors leading up to the finals. He foresees two teams of players advancing from each preliminary event, who then will play in a single-elimination bracket leading up to the championship tournament.

Eventually, the chamber executive said he would like to see the Kitsap County Cornhole Classic become an all-day event in future years, much like those organized around soccer and baseball tournaments.

Three preliminary tournaments will take place this weekend, followed by four prelims on the weekend of July 20-21. Two family-friendly tournaments in Port Orchard are set for the next two weeks: at First Christian Church on Saturday, July 13, and at Sidney Glen Elementary on Saturday, July 20. The two tourneys will start at 10 a.m. And a third preliminary is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 14 in “The Alley” at 715 Bay St. in Port Orchard.

The finals at Waterfront Park on Saturday, July 27 are tentatively scheduled to start at 9 a.m., but that time could change depending on the number of participants. Murphy said he plans to invite a number of food vendors to set up at the location.

Tournament participants are still being accepted. Murphy asks that those wanting to compete to sign up on the tournament’s website at www.kitsapcornholeclassic.com. The cost to participate is $20 for each two-person team.

Visit Kitsap and Better Properties of Washington are major sponsors of the tournament. Local preliminary tournaments are being sponsored by Whiskey Gulch, Dog Days Brewing, Wig Wam Pub, Silver City Brewery, National Tavern, Annapolis Fitness, Peninsula BevCo, Josephine’s Mercantile, Hayter Communications and the Dock Bar & Eatery.

The preliminary tournament on Bay Street will take place at 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 14, not on Saturday, July 13, as listed in the print edition of the Independent.

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