Corn it what you want: Classic summertime lawn game and Rifle recreational league brings people together
Taylor Walters first had the idea for a cornhole league — also called bags or baggo depending on where you’re from — while applying for a job with the city of Rifle.
“As an adult league it’s something that younger people can play and older people can play,” Walters, Rifle Recreation Coordinator said. “It’s not as intense as our adult softball league that you got to run around the bases, you know?”
There was a fall and winter league, and Walters said her department plans to host another one around the end of the summer. Anyone in the valley can sign up, it isn’t limited to residents of Rifle, and Walters said there was a good mixture of teams just out there to have fun and others who took a more competitive approach to cornhole and the league’s tournament.
“We’ve seen everything from people … who just want to come out and get out of the house and play. … And they’re just here to have a good time. And then we have the ones who take it super serious … so you do get a little bit of everything,” Walters said.
Silt couple Marvin and Tena Adair weren’t a part of the league but continue to contribute to cornhole culture up and down the valley by making and selling sets themselves.
“I felt the quality that you pay good money for is poor so I felt that I could build a better one,” Marvin said. “It seems like a lot of times when you play cornhole you’re partying and they’d get stepped on, and it’s pretty easy to be broken.”
They make the board sets entirely out of oak, include lights around the ring so it’s easier to play at night, and coordinate the colors of the bags to whatever design the customer requests that Tena hand paints on the front.
“We’ve never made ourselves a set yet for our personal use. We’re working on it. Everytime we’re getting ready to make ourselves one somebody wants one,” Tena said.
The couple’s sets sell for between $450 to $500 and it takes them about a month to process them, since it’s something they enjoy doing in their freetime. Some of the requested designs they’ve done include a “Baby Yoda,” a pair of elk and dragons. Until they get around to building a set for themselves, Tena said they’ll keep on playing with her son, who also built his own set, in the meantime.
Leah Bergener and Tina Keeney are best friends and known as the Cornholios, a nod to the animated TV series “Beavis and Butt-Head,” on the cornhole court. When they’ve played outside of the Rifle league, they reign undefeated, but their synergy didn’t seem to transfer to the indoor competitions.
“We’re the No. 1 losers, we have not won a game. But we go for the fun and the socialization,” Bergener said.
Keeney and Bergener first met at a craft show where Keeney was selling hairbows and they found out they both had daughters who are the same age.
“I said ‘you guys should come to storytime,’ and that was I guess almost 11 years ago now. And we just became best friends after that and our daughters are the same age so we’ve stayed friends and they’re friends,” Keeney said.
Keeney had a company picnic where she needed to bring a cornhole partner a few years back. That was the beginning of the Cornholios and since then, the two have tried to practice on a weekly basis when the weather allows.
“We just started a thing which we call mandatory fun. And it’s on Fridays and when it’s obviously nice outside we play cornhole,” Bergener said.
They are constantly looking for competitors because Bergener’s preferred partner is Keeney. Sometimes her husband will step in and play both sides of the opposing team just so they can maintain their legacy.
“We make our daughters play too. … That’s kind of where the term mandatory came from because they don’t always want to play stuff with us, we’re like ’well it’s mandatory fun,’” Keeney said.
The Cornholios have no strategy, but enjoy the game because anyone can play regardless of age or athletic ability. The duo plans to keep practicing this summer and come out on top for the next league tournament.
“We’re pretty confident that when the league, you know, can be outside, that we’ll be number one,” Bergener said. “Tom Dion and Dusty Decrow, we’re gonna beat you one of these days.”
Reporter Jessica Peterson can be reached at 970-279-3462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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