Craftsman makes custom cornhole games

7/19/2014 7:00 AM
By Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Cornhole was an unfamiliar word to Patrick Smith when he was first asked to use his woodworking talents to make the game.

"My neighbor asked me to build one for her brother," Smith said. "She knew I liked woodworking. I had never heard of the game."

After doing some research, he agreed to her request. As word spread about his ability, he began getting an avalanche of requests for his handmade games.

"They sold so fast," he said. "I've made hundreds of them."

He makes the wooden portion of the game while his mother, Jean Smith, sews the bags filled with corn to be tossed. Some sets are quite elaborate and can be custom-made with the emblem of a favorite team, television show or most any interest.

On a recent day, he had several lined up near his outdoor concession trailer located on a lot between the two entrances of Constellium's Ravenswood plant along Route 2. The themes included West Virginia University Mountaineers, Duck Dynasty, and Harley Davidson.

"I make miniature ones for 3- and 4-year-olds," he said. "I make half size ones for dorm rooms. They are eye-catching."

He has lost count of the number of games he has made and sold.

"It's a great backyard game and it's safe for younger kids," he said. "It's a game for all ages."

Smith, 45, is a former construction worker who tired of traveling and decided to find other ways to make a living in order to spend more time with family, including his wife, three children, and his mother, who is a widow.

As a result, he and his mother tend to work together frequently making games and running a concession stand near her home. The games are made in a shed near her house and the food stand within walking distance so that she can pitch in when her son is busy.

The food business is called T & T Concession, a name that stands for toss and turn as a link to the cornhole games.

Each game includes two boards and eight bags. The boards are set up a distance apart with players trying to toss bags through the hole of the wooden board on the opposite side. There are specific rules and regulations to follow, according to the American Cornhole Association. Of course, some folks simply make up their own rules.

Smith's games range in price from $75 for half-size games to $150 to the full-size ones with elaborate decals which he purchases from Custom Detail in Ripley for applying to his masterpieces. A full-size basic wooden game is $80 while one for children runs around $50. If the bags wear out, eight new ones may be purchased for $20.

Since he began making the games five years ago, their popularity has been surprising. He used profits from selling games to open the concession trailer. The food business is open from 11 a.m. until about 6 p.m. Monday through Friday with a menu that includes hot dogs, hamburgers, BBQ pork, chili cheese fries, grilled chicken subs, and funnel cakes. The games are frequently set up near the concession trailer to draw attention of passersby.

On a recent day, a customer who had previously purchased a cornhole game stopped by the concession stand for drinks and food.

Jim Hamilton, of Evans, and his son, Jacob, 16, agree it's a fun, competitive game for the entire family.

"I have five kids age 3 to 18," Hamilton said. "We play at family gatherings and cookouts. It's great entertainment for everyone. It's a lot of fun."

The games are sold at fairs, festivals and various events where Jean Smith takes along her crafts such as soft storybooks for toddlers, baby blankets, quilts, and holiday decorations. Aside from making crafts and helping at the food stand, Jean, 71, also enjoys gardening and playing softball as part of a team.

She and her son are at the Jackson County Farmers Market each Saturday with their cornhole games as well as vegetables or plants.

Orders for games may be placed by calling 304-373-7015.

The Jackson County Farmers Market is open 8 a.m. to about 3 p.m. Saturdays from April through October. It is located on the lot of New Stone Plaza in Ripley.

Other regular vendors are Cheryl Riter with plants and vegetables; Hartley Farms with vegetables; Nana's Kitchen with Amish friendship breads, pepperoni rolls, and sourdough rolls; Lilly of the Valley with goat milk soaps, TLC Farm Goat Dairy with milk, cheeses, and Italian ice cream; Leavitt Farms with jams, jellies, pickles and relishes; and Miss Mona's Sauces with salsa and barbecue sauces. Occasionally, other vendors are on hand with eggs, honey and fresh chicken.

For more information on Jackson County Farmers Market check out Facebook or call Judy Hartley at 304-372-8058.

___

Information from: Charleston Daily Mail, http://www.charlestondailymail.com


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