Cornhole tournaments coming to Yankee Homecoming

Courtesy photo A number of cornhole games set up behind the Elks Lodge in Newburyport. 

NEWBURYPORT — Among the many firsts during this year’s Yankee Homecoming celebration will be a rising star among pub-related or backyard events: the cornhole tournament.

During the festival July 31 to Aug. 8, there will be two cornhole tournaments, each calibrated to a particular skill level.

NBPT Cornhole is running the tournaments, with the first one Aug. 1 at noon at the Bartlet Mall during Olde Fashioned Sunday.

The second one takes place Aug. 7 at noon at Newburyport Elks on Low Street. The “beginner tournament’ at the Bartlet Mall is geared toward “the casual backyard player” while the Elks tournament is for some of the most talented players in New England, according to NBPT Cornhole co-founder and Newburyport resident Zack Hoover. 

“It’s easy and affordable and doesn’t require a lot of equipment or effort,” Hoover said. “It’s very backyard barbecue friendly and now you’re starting to see it on ESPN and people are like, ‘Wow this backyard game can be more than that.’” 

Participants in each tournament will be guaranteed a minimum of six games, and the tournaments will finish with a double-elimination tournament with cash prizes paid to the top-placing teams. Each event will also feature a food vendor and the competitive tournament will feature a cash bar and live music. 

Unique to Newburyport, Yankee Homecoming is an annual summer celebration that aims to revive appreciation for the heritage and beauty of the city by bringing back natives and visitors for a week’s worth of special activities.

The first week of August was chosen since it marks the birthday of the U.S. Coast Guard, founded in Newburyport.

Newburyport natives and visitors have flocked to the city each summer since 1958 to recognize the Coast Guard for its contributions to the community.

Over the years, Yankee Homecoming has grown to highlight more and more creative initiatives that have been welcomed by event organizers, residents and visitors.

From Olde Fashioned Sunday to waterfront concerts and downtown craft fairs to fireworks, Yankee Homecoming offers something for everyone.

Hoover said Yankee Homecoming officials first approached him about joining the festival last year but COVID-19 restrictions forced the celebration’s cancellation.  

“It was an automatic yes,” Hoover said. 

NBPT Cornhole was launched in 2019 by Hoover and longtime friend Dan Leahy of Chelmsford.

The organization runs an open-to-the-public random draw tournament each Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Newburyport Elks. In addition to its weekly events, NBPT Cornhole also works with local organizations to create family-friendly, socially distant and active activities, including charitable fundraisers, corporate outings and group social outings.

Hoover said the weekly event draws 40 to 50 players of all skill levels. The emphasis is on building relationships rather than destroying the competition. 

“It’s very friendly for everyone,” he said, “We keep the drama out of it.”

Asked for advice for anyone new to the activity, Hoover said it makes sense for novices not to aim the bags directly at the holes but rather to throw them hard enough so they slide on the board and slip into a hole. He said anyone who practices regularly will shed their newbie moniker before they know it. 

Questions about the tournaments or NBPT Cornhole in general can be directed to the NBPT Cornhole page on Facebook or to Hoover at zack@nbptbags.com.

Both tournaments are open to the general public. Preregistration is open on the Newburyport Yankee Homecoming website at yankeehomecoming.com.

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