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Cornhole sensation entertains on long summer days
S-Cornhole pic 1
Logan Burt and Logan Brumbelow celebrate after winning a cornhole tournament during a cookout last week at the Brumbelow home. Numbers were drawn to assign teams and a bracket developed for matching up the teams. - photo by Amy French

While high school sports took a break for the Georgia High School Association's mandated annual "dead week" and some are counting down the 52 remaining days until college football, more and more people are turning to summertime activities like cornhole.

The backyard game has found success in its ability to be played virtually anywhere by virtually anyone.

The "anywhere" is what makes it a staple at tailgating events for things like college football.

It is also perfect for cookouts and family gatherings-like a recent tournament in Dawsonville involving friends and the extended family of Keith and Holly Brumbelow.

"Anything that will keep my kiddos at home these days is worth it," said Holly about the recent cookout and tournament in her husband Keith's shop behind their home.

The Brumbelows have been playing the game for about a year with boards they finished themselves.

Holly Brumbelow said they probably play once a month, but recently have begun to play more often.

A little rain moved the scheduled event indoors and kept the play to one set of cornhole boards, but the competition was still fierce and the entertainment virtually endless.

The game is played by tossing bags filled with corn at angled wooden platforms that are 2 feet by 4 feet with a 6-inch hole centered 9 inches from the top. The platforms are placed so that the holes are 33 feet apart.

The platforms are also finished with a semi-gloss exterior paint to allow the bags to slide on the surface.

A complete cornhole set will have two platforms and eight of the 14-16 ounce duck fabric bags of corn.

Players take turns tossing four bags in an attempt to sink the bag in the hole or land it on the platform. The game can be played with two or four people (on teams of two).

To win, a team must reach 21 points exactly. Three points are scored when a player tosses the bag into the hole. One point is scored by landing the bag on the platform.

A team can "bust" by going over the 21 points and must then immediately go back to 15.

The backyard game-turned-phenomenon has spread, well, like a summer wildfire the last several years even though the origins of the game are thought to go back possibly as far as 14th century Germany.

Similar to horseshoes, some think the game was developed from an 1883 patent for a game called "parlor quoits" that shares some attributes of the modern-day version of cornhole.

Regardless of origins, the portable and relatively inexpensive game attracts players of all ages, experience levels and ability.

The American Cornhole Association has been the governing body of the sport since 2003 and the web site lists a Marion County Country Ham Days Cornhole Tournament in Lebanon, Kentucky in September as the next big event.

Organizations for the sport have popped up across the country-and not just in the southern states- in places like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Massachusetts.

Locally, the game has become an entertaining way to pass an evening and get the family outdoors or to toss in the trunk for tailgating.

Players develop methods of tossing that involve everything from spinning the bean bag to adding tremendous arc on the toss to get the right angle and keep the bag on the board.

During the Brumbelow family tournament, players drew numbers to be matched up on teams before a phone app was used to enter the teams and develop a bracket.

Everyone gathered to watch as, round by round, teams were eliminated in the single-elimination tournament format.

Logan Burt, a left-handed pitcher for the University of North Georgia, was matched up with Logan Brumbelow, a rising senior at Dawson County High School.

"When we drew each other, we knew we were going to dominate," said Logan Brumbelow.

The two advanced to the championship round to face Jacob Millwood and Burt's dad Everett Burt. The Burt and Brumbelow team was initially down 20-0 but made a comeback with the help of a "bust" by the Millwood/Burt team.

"When it was 20-0, we thought it was over," Brumbelow said. "But we got it together and knew we could win it."