Some of the top competitors in the country came to compete for Saturday’s $1,000 first prize.
All they had to do was dominate in a game that just happens to be more popular at college fraternities than college arenas.
At the River City Bags Classic, 192 two-person teams braved heat and rain for the benefit of St. Jude Children’s Hospital. As hefty as the prize was, though, most of the bags players came to have a good time while supporting a good cause.
Patrick Rupe believes that the tournament is an example of one of the area’s better qualities.
“There’s a lot more sense of community living in Peoria than where I’m from. And it seems like a lot more people are willing to help out charitable organizations, and I like that,” said Rupe, who moved to Peoria two years ago.
The number wanting to help has grown since the competition started three years ago, by 32 more teams than last year. Another 20 teams were on a waiting list.
“It’s amazing to me. We have more and more teams from Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana,” said Shawn Glatz, one of the founders of the event, who is hoping to expand to 256 teams next year.
The popular tailgating game is played by throwing beanbags at a tilted platform with a hole in the middle. To score, the bag must go through the hole or rest on the board.
Its simplicity attracts a large crowd. Young and old were playing together, all of whom seemed ready for some friendly competition and a fun atmosphere.
“As long as they keep having bags and beer here,” joked Sean Larson.
Along with teammate Chris Minter, they formed the Two-Man Wolfpack, a name referencing the film “The Hangover.”
Theirs was just one of the many unusual and sometimes comical team names that included Rockey Bagboa, Inglourious Bagsters and Bagman!
Rupe and his teammate, Ryan Spain, defend their team’s less-than-clever name, Spain-Rupe.
“We spend our time in the weight room and not in front of a computer,” Rupe said.
Of course, there are some who came to win.
Team DJ Tiki Entertainment has learned to watch out for anyone who chooses to drink water over beer. Those are the players who come to win, said members Tom Keller and DJ Current.
“Water is like steroids,” joked Keller about the advantage.