Blackstone Valley XPress
September 2017
By Magda Dakin

Last year’s winners: From (l-r), the 2nd Place “Dirt Bags,” 1st Place “Showtime,” and 3rd Place “Brothers Bagg-ins.”

The 4th Annual Alternatives Valley Bag Toss event is almost here. Save the afternoon of Saturday, September 23, for a fun and laugh-filled afternoon, trying your hand at tossing the bags, cheering on other teams, enjoying the music, food and beverages, all while wearing a big smile. Practice up to win prizes and beat the competition.

Far from Eden will perform early in the afternoon, complements of a grant from the Cultural Council, and acoustic guitarist Tom Langlais will do the honors for the remainder of the afternoon. GottaQ BBQ will be serving their famous BBQ with an interesting menu of barbequed items. Wine and drinks will also be available.

When Molly and Nick Hollibaugh were looking for a way to support Alternatives and its efforts to foster relationships between the community and the people served by the programs, they wanted an activity in which everyone could participate. There’s a level playing field when you toss those little bags into the small holes on slanted boards 27 feet away. “Anyone can play, from young people to seniors. We wanted to increase the diversity of people involved in the Alternatives programs,” says Molly, in describing the event. Community interest has been growing each year with a record number of entries expected this year.

Guru Simran Khalsa Bob, who receives services from Alternatives, has participated in all three of the previous Bag Tosses and enjoyed the experience. “Being there with everyone makes me feel good. It brings people together, and though it’s a fundraiser, the purpose is that it’s fun.”

The game is a little like horseshoes except you use wooden boxes called platforms and corn bags instead of horseshoes and metal stakes. Contestants take turns pitching their corn bags at the corn hole platform until a contestant reaches the score of 21 points. It’s been called many things: Corn Toss, Bean Bag, Bean Toss, Soft Horseshoes, but to those born and raised in Kentucky they call it the Cornhole Toss. Thought to originate in Germany in the 14th century, it was rediscovered in the hills of Kentucky a hundred years ago. The game is usually played tournament style with a team being named the champion at the end of the tournament.

The Valley Bag Toss is fortunate to have 24 beautiful, handmade boards made by local wood enthusiast Nick Hollibaugh, owner of Box Elder Studio in Sutton. The winning team gets a beautiful new board to keep. There will also be prizes for Best Team Spirit, Best Team Name and Best Team Costume. Teams of two may preregister and pay the entry fee to compete in the event. Spectators (free) are welcome and encouraged to cheer for their champions during the afternoon.

The event is a fundraiser for the Alternatives programs, serving people with disabilities in Central Massachusetts. Sponsors help to make these events possible. The Valley Bag Toss lead sponsor this year is Zentangle, the presenting sponsor is Flexible Fundamentals, a group supporting the whole education of children, not just the math and sciences but also the social and living skills, while promoting independence within the community.

Platinum sponsors include Savers Bank and Box Elder Studio. The Gold sponsor is Gaudette Insurance. Silver sponsors are Foxy Travel, Harbro Auto, Koopman Lumber, Osterman Propane, Quality Beverage, RAPT Performance Training, Ruby Wines, Nafie and John Shapazian, Solid Benefits Group, and the Wormtown Brewery. Contestants must be at least 14, and are asked to arrive before 12:30 for on-site prep before the fun starts at 1 p.m. Preregistration can be done online at AlternativesNet.org/BagToss. Spaces are limited so sign up soon if you want to be part of the fun. Commemorative T-shirts are provided for all participants.

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Contact Magda Dakin at [email protected]