Cornhole tournament comes to The Wheelhouse/Derby’s Bar and Grill in Hemet

Photo by Rusty Strait/The Valley Chronicle
William Howell, an official with American Cornhole Organization (A.C.O.) out of San Diego

■ By Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter

A game with a mixed parentage is coming to Hemet. Some say it originated in 14th century Germany. The Native American Black Hawk tribe of Illinois claims credit. A farmer from the 1800s in Kentucky is also blamed for its existence. Doesn’t matter. What’s important to the San Jacinto Valley is that The Wheelhouse in Hemet is hosting a major cornhole tournament on April 8.
How did a tournament in Hemet come about? William Howell, an official with American Cornhole Organization (A.C.O.) out of San Diego, came to the valley looking for a suitable site to hold a cornhole tournament.
Howell, who holds a Bachelor of Science in Geospatial Information Systems, became interested in the game in a neighbor’s backyard in 2010. He went on to become a regional director and spend unlimited hours promoting harmonious communities through local tournaments.
Luckily, he hooked up with Jesse Vivanco, the genial owner of The Wheelhouse and Derby’s Bar and Grill. He found that both, The Wheelhouse and Vivanco, are the ideal connections for a tournament in Hemet.
Vivanco passed the test to become a local official. This is just the beginning of what all involved believe will be a long-lasting relationship between the A.C.O. and the San Jacinto Valley.
The tools of the game consist of bean bags and a slanted board with a hole on one end into which the bean bag is aimed to score points.
Cornhole is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. From kindergarten to retirement—it is a game for the whole family and does not require any formal athletic training. Anyone in the family can play. The structure is a lot like horseshoes. Matches are played with two sets of bean bags, two platforms with two to four players. However, in a tournament, there are any number of players and boards so that almost any number of players can participate, space allowing.
Cornhole matches are broken down into innings of frames of play. There is a set of rules and regulations. I am told that they are adhered to as rigorously as any other sport. The game is played as either doubles or singles. In order to score, the bags must either be tossed into the hole or land on the board.
A match is played until the first player or team reaches twenty-one points at the completion of an inning.
The modern game of cornhole gained popularity following an article published in “Popular Mechanics” magazine in September 1974. Its nucleus began in Chicago and spread to Indiana and Ohio. It especially took hold in Harrison, Ohio, which became one of the main areas of renewed popularity of the game. Now, tournaments are often covered by ESPN and other television sports outlets.
Why is it so popular? It is portable and age-friendly. Cornhole is a game for everyone.
Since participation in this tournament is sold-out, it is expected that there will be local tournaments, as well as regional tournaments, held at this venue.
The tournament sponsors are A.C.O., VIP Autos, BJ Sporting Goods, Derby’s Bar and Grill, Ultra, Bowlersdeals Diesel Tech, and Luna Ink. The tournament will be held at The Wheelhouse, 2860 W. Florida Ave., Hemet on April 8. Registration is at 8:30 a.m. and the tournament starts at 10 a.m.
This tournament is sold-out, but admission for spectators is free. For more information, call Jesse Vivanco at 951-652-9968.

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