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Cornhole and March Madness go together on St. Simons

SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – College basketball will dominate the big-screen televisions next Saturday night at area restaurants and taverns as the Final Four of the NCAA men’s tournament grabs the sporting spotlight nationally.

Gnat’s Landing in Redfern Village plans to show the two March 31 national semifinals which will draw the interest of the die-hard basketball fan and also the casual one who might still have a chance to win the office pool.

But another game will take place at Gnat’s earlier in the day when the Fourth Annual Boys and Girls Club Cornhole Tournament packs the house with participants competing for bragging rights and prizes while supporting the fundraising efforts of the Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Georgia.

“It started with a group of guys hanging out and watching March Madness together and they had the idea of doing something for the Boys and Girls Club and decided on this cornhole tournament,” said Brooke Parmelee, event organizer and director of development and marketing for the local Boys and Girls Club.

The competition is expected to draw about 20 teams. The two-person teams will try to battle their way to the championship round in the double-elimination tournament.

Registration begins at 11 a.m. Sign-ups will close at noon so the tournament brackets can be drawn up in time for the event to start at 12:30 p.m. The event will likely conclude around 5 p.m., just in time for everyone to gather around a television for the March Madness games.

Entry fee is $80 per team in advance for those also wanting to purchase an event T-shirt. Teams can also pay just $60 in advance if they do not wish to buy a shirt. Teams can register online at www.bgcsega.com prior to the tournament day.

Registration the day of the event is $100 per team.

All proceeds from the tournament will go to the local Boys and Girls Club. The money raised has been earmarked to go toward college scholarships for high school seniors who are members at the Elizabeth F. Correll Teen Center in Brunswick.

Gnat’s also plans to donate a percentage of its bar sales during the event to the scholarship fund.

“We usually raise about $5,000 or $6,000,” Parmelee said. “It’s not a big fundraiser, but it’s a fun fundraiser.

“We have the event every year on Easter weekend and try to hold it in conjunction with March Madness which people like watching along with playing cornhole.”

For those not familiar with cornhole, it is a popular lawn game in which players take turns throwing bags of corn (or bean bags) at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. While there are various scoring methods used to determine a winner, a bag in the hole under one basic format is worth three points while one on the platform scores one point. Play continues until a team or player reaches or exceeds 21 points.

In the Golden Isles, it is commonplace to see beach-goers playing the game on the sandy shore. But much like other games such as horseshoes, there are more serious competitions at sanctioned events for the hard-core players such as those sponsored by the American Cornhole Organization.

At the local tournament this year, the winners will earn gift cards to area restaurants which support the event.

“It’s definitely the fun-type tournament,” Parmelee said. “The people who participate are truly there to support the Boys and Girls Club and just want to give back. They’re not coming and worrying about winning anything.

“A lot of people just come as spectators, so it’s really just turned into a fun Saturday.”

The Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Georgia is comprised of nine different branches including the Terrill Thomas Unit, which is the area’s largest facility and recently underwent a massive renovation to improve its offerings for the hundreds of youth who go there regularly.

The organization also has clubs at each of Glynn County’s four public middle schools in addition to the teen center and facilities in Glynn Villa, McIntyre Court and one on St. Simons Island.

The local branch is the second largest in the state behind only the one for metro Atlanta.

The cornhole tournament is among the several fundraisers the local organization conducts each year to bring in the dollars necessary to help support its facilities and programs for area youth.

The next event on the calendar is the long-running Club Golf Tournament which will be held for the 30th consecutive year in May at the Jekyll Island Golf Club. It is a four-person scramble event.

“We usually fill up two golf courses,” Parmelee noted. “We’ll have 36 to 40 teams and usually raise about $25,000 through the tournament.”

The organization’s largest event is the Merry Mixer slated this year for Dec. 1 at Halyards and Tramici on St. Simons Island.

“It’s really a tailgate party. We hold it the same weekend as the college football conference championship games,” Parmelee explained. “Both restaurants close down, we have a live band, silent and live auctions. Tickets are $100 apiece and over 500 people come.”

Also recently, Parmelee said the local club benefited from the Allman Brothers Tribute hosted by the King and Prince Resort on St. Simons Island. The concert featured Tribute, an Atlanta-based band which specializes in recreating the music from the Allman Brothers Band.

“It sold out in three weeks,” Parmelee added. “It drew an audience of about 375 people.”

Because that event did so well, Parmelee said she is trying to plan a similar event for this coming August or September.

For more information about the upcoming cornhole tournament or any other fundraising events for the local Boys and Girls Club, anyone can email Parmelee at developmentbgcglynn@gmail.com.

 

Kevin Price is a freelance writer for AllOnGeorgia with more than 20 years experience in journalism and communications.

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