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Cornhole season underway at Rifle’s Ute Theater

People compete during cornhole league night at the Ute Theater in Rifle on Jan. 27.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Many fine acts have graced the halls of Rifle’s famous Ute Theater: Young Dubliners, The Wailers and Michael Martin Murphy, just to name a few.

But on a chilly Jan. 27 night, it was 44-year-old part-time handyman Marty Davis taking the stage with an IPA in each hand. One of the beers was for his wife, Ivy.

It wasn’t for live music, however, as the city’s recreation department hosts its official cornhole league underneath the theater’s light fixtures.



Instead of drum solos, it’s a pattering of bags hitting slate. Instead of water breaks, it’s competitors making trips to the Ute’s full-service bar.

“For my wife and I, it gives us something to do,” Davis said. “She leaves work, I meet her here.”



Rifle’s cornhole league is now in its second year, and this season has 16 participating teams, Rifle Parks and Recreation Manager Austin Rickstrew said. To enter costs $80 per team, with the funds going back into the parks and recreation budget to help support its other 25-30 programs throughout the year.

Marty Davis carries refreshments to his next match during cornhole league night at the Ute Theater in Rifle on Jan. 27.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

The cornhole season started Jan. 20 and runs six weeks.

Davis said the experience is amazing.

“Especially for a town like Rifle,” he said. “I love the Ute Theater, and I recognize a lot of people here.”

One common conversation among Rifle residents is the city’s need for a full-fledged recreation center. But with the Ute’s bleachers stacked straight against a back wall as sets of cornhole boards lined the main floor, no one seemed to complain.

“It’s fun just to be in the room,” Rickstrew said. “Everyone’s there just to have a good time. A little competition is all in fun, and everyone’s laughing.”

As she waited her turn to throw, Ivy Davis said cornhole league gets her out of the house and meeting new people.

“I’m not 21 anymore,” she said. “Once you’re not 21 anymore, it’s harder and harder to meet people, and so we’ve actually made some good friends coming here.”

Ivy Davis winds up a toss during cornhole league night at the Ute Theater in Rifle on Jan. 27.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

She also said the Ute offers a wide open space, indoors and away from the cold. She’s still able to be active, while keeping warm.

Rifle’s cornhole season ends with a big tournament, but for Ivy, she’s keeping her expectations realistic.

“My goal is to lose fewer than I win,” she joked.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@citizentelegram.com.


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