Corn Hole Tournament Concludes First-Day-of-Summer Festivities

June 27, 2014

by Marc Ayotte

There is a dispute as to exactly where and when the game of corn hole was invented.  Whether you believe as many do, that it originated in Cincinnati, Ohio, or put your stock in it being invented by Matthias Kueperman in his native Deutschland, circa 1325, one thing is for certain; game participation is experiencing a widespread resurgence.  Epitomizing this corn hole comeback of sorts was Litchfield’s first Annual Corn Hole Tournament held Saturday, June 21.

Litchfield was a happening place on the first day of summer as a series of community-inspired events was held in town, including a strawberry festival, a girls’ softball sponsored family fun day and then culminating with a spirited corn hole tourney, held at the Roy Memorial Park.  The event was co-sponsored by the Litchfield Girls Softball League and the Litchfield Recreation Commission, with part of the proceeds going toward the new concession stand at the park.

According to Keith Buxton, an active coach in the LGSL and the Rec’s commissioner, the inaugural tournament spawned from various individual tournaments around town that reflected a growing interest in the game.  “We didn’t know what to expect,” commented Buxton regarding the anticipated number of players that would sign up for the tournament.  As it turned out, 47 two-member teams participated in the double-elimination format.  And all though it was the first annual ‘summer’ tournament, it was an off-shoot from the competition that was held a few months back during the town’s Winterfest; a winter-summer schedule Buxton hopes to continue in the future.

For those of you not familiar with the game, here is a quick breakdown.  Basically, it involve a board and four, 6-inch-by-6-inch bags which are filled with 16 ounces of whole kernel feed corn; imagine that?  The specifications on the board include it being 2 feet wide by 4 feet long, with a 12-inch-high back and a six-inch hole in it, strategically placed 9 inches down from the top of the board (see photo).  Two-person teams compete against one another with one player from each team standing next to each of the two boards that are placed some 27 feet apart from one another (33 feet from hole to hole).  Each player tosses his/her four bags, scoring one point for each bag that stays on the board and three points for each one finding its way into the hole.  The first team to 21 points wins and advances to the next round.

In all, 94 players participated in the afternoon-long event with the top three teams being compensated for their efforts.  As depicted by the towns represented on the list of winners as well as other participants, the tournament was well promoted by Buxton, who partnered up for the competition with friend and Litchfield resident Don Daigle.  Buxton also designed and built many of the boards used for the tournament including one of them depicting Hudson business, Daigle Pools, owned and operated by his teammate.

Tournament results were as follows: first place:  Keith and Kyle Lessard of Dracut, Mass.; second place:  Keith Buxton and Don Daigle of Litchfield; third place:  Karen Ray and Brian Viglione of Boston.  In addition to the mainstream tournament, a side contest was held; the long toss:  first place (60 feet) went to John Steiniger of Litchfield while second place (55 feet) was awarded to Eric German of New Ipswich.

Among those that went down to defeat in the tournament were Litchfield resident John McKenna and his brother-in-law teammate, Kevin Bell.  After a first-round win, the tandem experienced a loss to the dynamic duet of Lauren Chesnulevich (Hudson) and Amanda Wilson of Merrimack.  McKenna, who is a board member in the LGSL, took the defeat in stride, but did admit: “It’s humbling to lose.”  And all in good fun, the ladies jokingly expressed their pleasure in recording the win; “Yeah, we whipped their butts.”

Trash talking was not reserved for the opposition, however, as voiced by one member of a team that suffered a firs-round loss.  “My back is hurting (effective pause) from carrying my partner,” revealed Rebecca Dobles who drove down from the Queen City to participate in her first tournament.  With dissention in the ranks on light-hearted display, Dobles had no issues with outing her partner; “and his name is Richard Murphy.”

As was the case for the other venues in town that day, the Litchfield Police Department had a member of its force there to maintain an orderly flow of the scheduled events.  Lieutenant Dave Donnelly, who is in his 23rd year of law enforcement serving the town, commented on the growth of the park in general and the role of the recreation department, specifically referencing the recently installed pavilion; “this field has really improved over the last few years; and the Rec League has had a lot to do with that.”