Buzz building for Sandpoint Cornhole Classic pro event

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(Photo by ERIC PLUMMER) A&P’s manager James Mize is the driving force behind bringing a professional tournament to Sandpoint in September. MickDuff’s Beer Hall is hosting a cornhole tournament on Saturday at 1 p.m., with the winner getting a free entry into the upcoming pro event.

SANDPOINT — Sure, there will be some ringers coming to town in September for the first ever Sandpoint Cornhole Classic, as the tourney is an official American Cornhole League points event and there is a $1,000 prize for the winners of both singles and doubles.

Thanks to local Spencer Nielson, there are now another thousand reasons for locals to take part in the one-day tournament.

James Mize, who is putting on the first ever pro cornhole tournament in downtown Sandpoint on Saturday, Sept. 15, was talking with Nielson and wondering how to drum up more local participation.

“We were chatting, and asked ‘how are we going to get locals involved without them being afraid of the pros?’” said Mize. “He (Spencer) looked up and said ‘I’ll put up $1,000 if a local wins the singles or doubles.’”

That’s the potential for any local to win $2,000, but they’ll have to beat some of the top regional players from Seattle, Spokane and Boise, as more than 60 people have already entered the event.

Mize has been working with the city, and has permission to use 1st Avenue between Main and Church St. for a day, hoping for a fun atmosphere downtown.

“The city is gracious to allow us to use First Avenue. The big thing I’m promoting is to bring the community together downtown for a party and event,” said Mize, the manager at A&P’s Bar and Grill. “It’s cool the city is letting us take over the street for a day. Businesses will be excited by the 1,000-1,500 people coming through downtown.”

Like many across the nation, Mize has been hooked on the leisure sport since he threw his first bean bag in a friend’s back yard. The sport has a pro league, the ACL, and has been featured numerous times on ESPN. It’s both played and scored similar to horse shoes, as participants try to land their bag in a hole on an angled board.

While there will be some strong players in town trying to earn tour points for the national tournament in Las Vegas, Mize says Sandpoint has some strong players as well, including himself, Nick Utt, Terry Haddock, Amos Walkington and Rick Coopman, among others.

Win or lose, the event is about people coming together and enjoying a fun game. And it’s always fun to face off against pros in any sport.

“Just because you play in the back yard, you can still come out and enjoy yourself and have a chance to win prizes,” said Mize. “Anyone can throw a bean bag in the hole and have a good time.”

The tournament is open to any men or women 21 and older, but there will also be courts for kids to play on along with the 20 tournament courts, which will run down the middle of First Ave.

Mize is still looking for any local businesses that want to participate, and notes there are plenty of vendor opportunities as well.

The prize pots could be big if there are more than 150 players, which is what Mize is expecting, and payouts figure to be large, all the way down to 10th place. Mize hopes to keep growing the event and make it a permanent stop on the pro tour.

The entry fee is $30 for the singles tourney, $60 for the doubles tourney, and $50 per player for both. All entries include one meal ticket, one drink ticket and a souvenir. The deadline to sign up is Sept. 8. The tournament is double elimination, with three games guaranteed.

Anyone can sign up by mailing an entry to: A&P’s Bar & Grill, 222 N. First Ave., Sandpoint, ID, 83864, Attn: James Mize. You can also sign up during working hours at the bar. The deadline to enter is Sept. 8.

n MickDuff’s cornhole tournament on tap Saturday

MickDuff’s Beer Hall will play host to a cornhole doubles tournament on Saturday, Aug. 11 with first toss at 1 p.m. Cost is $10 per player, with the winner earning a free entry into the Sandpoint Cornhole Classic.

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