Skip to content

Cornhole taking off in central Alberta

Bag tossing game draws players to Lacombe Memorial Centre every Wednesday
31750725_web1_230202-rda-cornhole-league-cornhole_2
Brent van Nieuwkerk founded Lacombe’s Cold Blooded Cornhole league, one of nine in Alberta. (Photo contributed)

Central Alberta is becoming cornhole country.

Since it started about two years ago, Lacombe-based Cold Blooded Cornhole league has been growing steadily and close to 30 people often turn up at the Lacombe Memorial Centre to toss a few bags.

For the uninitiated, cornhole is a formalized version of the popular campsite bean bag toss game. Participants line up 27 feet from the angled board and aim to land their bag in the six-inch hole for three points or on the board for a point. It’s a fun game that has been catching on fast with nine leagues in Alberta alone overseen provincially by the Alberta Cornhole Association and nationally by Cornhole Canada.

Cold Blooded Cornhole founder Brent van Nieuwkerk said the sport has been growing and two national championships have already been held in Canada, the last one in Regina last year.

Van Nieuwkerk said like many he started out backyard and campsite cornholer. But as his interest and enthusiasm for the game grew he started following Cornhole Canada and the American Cornhole League, which promotes and develops the sport in the U.S.

The game is so big in the U.S. there is a professional league where cornholers compete in a series of national events, where hundreds of thousands of dollars can be up for grabs at the bigger competitions.

“When we first started playing we began looking into getting bags up from the States and we built from there. Me and my buddy who run the league in Lacombe had a hunch that it was the kind of sport that would grow in Canada exponentially and it seems to have finally taken off now.”

In Lacombe, about 16 to 20 were coming out to toss bags. But in January they added a recreational league and now 20 to 30 people are showing up to toss a few bags, make some friends and have a few laughs.

“It’s a great game and a social game. It’s fun to get out with friends and learn all the different techniques.”

For those who take it seriously, there is plenty of technique to hone.

“To throw a flat bag is ideal,” he said.

While some try to screw the bags up and throw them like a softball, the skilled players aim for a flat lob, taking full advantage of the covering on the bags to get the right feel for the toss. A variety of synthetic materials cover the bags and one of the designs that is growing in popularity has a carpet bag-like texture on one side to provide a better grip.

“It’s got a slippery side and a more sticky side for strategic plays, where you want to block your opponent from getting into the hole. The higher end players have the ability to block and then on their next shot they’ll drag their blocker right into the hole.”

The cheapest bags cost around US$30 for four, but they can range in price as high as US$500 for four. Expect to pay about US$100 for a set of good-quality bags, he said.

Typically, players alternate throwing four bags and points are tallied to pick a winner — usually the first to pass 21 points.

Van Nieuwkerk said Cold Blooded Cornhole is aimed at players 16 and over and they’re happy to have people drop in and give it a try. They can be found on Facebook and Instagram. Lacombe’s league plays Wednesdays starting at 7 p.m. at Lacombe Memorial Centre.



News tips

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter