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Blue Springs Volunteer Fire Department holds cornhole tournament fundraiser

Blue Springs Volunteer Fire Department, 3001 Highway 75 in east Franklin, held a cornhole tournament fundraiser Aug. 28. Contestants paid $15 to participate, and $5 of the entry fee went to the fire department.

“Thirty-two people registered,” said Blue Springs Fire Chief Mary Glass. “Contestants had a blind draw for partners, so they didn’t know who they would be playing with until the bracket for that tournament was drawn.”

Glass said Blue Springs VFD is going to start having a Cornhole tournament every Thursday at 6 p.m. She said the fire department’s portion of the proceeds will be beneficial in helping to obtain necessary personal protective gear.

She said it was her brother’s idea, assistant chief Larry Hallman, to have tournaments at the station, prompted by his own enjoyment of going around to various places to compete.

“He thought it would be fun and help raise money and wanted to try it here,” she said. “A lot of places use cornhole tournaments to raise money for various community organizations.”

Cornhole has been growing in popularity in recent years. On the website of the American Cornhole Organization, the game is described as being somewhat similar to horseshoes, with cornhole platforms and corn bags instead of horseshoes and metal stakes.

A common theme among the contestants was that what they enjoy the most about the sport is the friendly competitive atmosphere while spending time with friends and meeting new people.

“It’s a fun game, win or lose,” said Hallman. “I love playing. It’s competitive but also relaxing.”

“You meet good people and get to have fun competing,” agreed Brandon Hallman. “It’s a growing sport. Not only is there the potential to win money but also to help local organizations with fundraising efforts.”

Many people travel to tournaments and play as partners – something Gaylon Wood and Phillip King enjoy. “The friends you make along the way are the best quality people you will ever meet,” said King. “We play four or five nights a week, and we placed second in an ACO-sanctioned regional tournament in Tupelo. We have won numerous tournaments.”

Wood said he’s been playing about a year and a half and, while he enjoys the competition, the best part is making friends. “I’ve made friends from Mississippi and Phil Campbell and lots of places.”

For Amy Seal, it’s all about having fun, meeting people and spending time with family. “My sister, Amber Fretwell, got me started playing,” said Seal. “It’s something we enjoy together.”

Brooklyne Horton and her grandfather, Alton Hallman, both competed in Saturday’s tournaments. “I have played four or five games,” said Hallman. “I love it. I used to play horseshoes, and now I play this.”

Horton said she likes that the game is they can enjoy together. She has been playing casually and only recently started competing. Saturday marked her first tournament. “It’s just fun,” said Horton. “It’s competitive but not cutthroat. It’s a fun competition.”

“My husband, Shane Fretwell, started out by playing in a local benefit tournament,” said Amber Fretwell, who frequently competes with local group, Northwest Alabama Cornhole. “I started playing later. It’s something we enjoy together. I’m No. 1 in the American Cornhole Organization ranking for Women. We play at least two to three times per week.”

Not everyone in the tournament was part of Northwest Alabama Cornhole. It was open to anyone interested who paid the registration.

For the first tournament Saturday, Amber Fretwell and Doug Hallman placed first, Marshall Smith and Jeff Welborn placed second and Kent Hallman and Greg Neighbors placed third.

For the second tournament, Greg Neighbors and Landon Welborn placed first, Larry Hallman and Gaylon Wood placed second and Jeff Welborn and Philip King placed third.

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