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People play cornhole at Williamson Orchards & Vineyards in the Sunnyslope wine region of Caldwell on July 1. The sport's growth in the Treasure Valley will continue in Settlers Park, which will see five permanent cornhole courts be installed.

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Next spring, the city of Meridian will install five sets of permanent cornhole courts in Settlers Park.

Cornhole, which has long been popular in middle America, recently has become more trendy in larger cities in the United States, and in recent years cornhole competitions have aired on CBS and ESPN. 

With that said, cornhole’s popularity is also growing in the Treasure Valley. Meridian this month played its 2nd Annual Holiday Classic Cornhole Tournament at Meridian Homecourt and Boise State hosted a welcome cornhole tournament. 

Travis Fullmer, a Treasure Valley native, grew up playing cornhole recreationally in his backyard, with friends and while camping. He helped start Cornhole Idaho in 2016 as a way to run tournaments and raise money for nonprofits.

“We started with 32 teams in our first tournament. We just ran a tournament this last weekend, a two-day tournament, we had 106 players,” Fullmer said. 

Cornhole is played by separating two boards, each with a hole, so they face each other. Players then pitch bags at the boards. The goal is to get the bags in a hole.

“It’s fun, first of all it’s very social,” Fullmer said. “It’s something that anybody can play. We have kids that are preteens that play, young adults ... we have seniors. We have all age groups.”

Nowadays, if someone wanted to play organized cornhole, they could play two or three nights a week, Fullmer said.

“There was no such thing (when I was growing up),” Fullmer said.

Idaho's cornhole scene has also been represented nationally. Boise resident Kevin Biller faced off against "the winningest player of all time," Matt Guy, earlier this year. Biller won, in a match aired on CBS Sports.

Biller grew up playing cornhole in his home state of Ohio. After he moved to Boise, he went to a tournament because he thought it would be fun. Biller took second place, met the people involved in Cornhole Idaho and "became hooked." 

"There's new people every week," Biller said. "It's getting bigger and bigger and bigger ... it's something you can get good at really quick."

Biller went professional last year, after renting out an empty space and spending his lunch hours every day and occasionally time after work practicing. 

There are many cornhole resources in the Treasure Valley, Biller said, including Cornhole Idaho and Treasure Valley Cornhole.

"There's an endless amount of cornhole to be played," Biller said. "We go to Settlers (Park) now and we play at the horseshoe pits."

The courts, which are expected to be installed in the spring, will be funded through a grant with Together Treasure Valley, and has a budget of $9,500, Meridian Parks and Recreation Director Steve Siddoway said. The city of Meridian’s initial grant request said the goal is to “expand the park’s outdoor activity offerings” and “enhance the recreation opportunities” available to residents. 

Parks and Recreation staff will install the five sets of concrete cornhole boards.

The grant request said courts could be used first-come, first-serve for the most part, but also for league or tournament play. Residents could bring their own bags, or the city could rent out bags from the concession stand. The fee is not expected to be a significant revenue source, according to Siddoway. 

"Games such as cornhole bring people together for social interaction and good-natured competition," Siddoway said in an email to the Idaho Press. "Plus, cornhole is a low-cost or no-cost activity that individuals of nearly all fitness levels, ages and abilities can take part in."

Carolyn Komatsoulis covers Meridian and Ada County. Contact her at 208-465-8107 and follow her on Twitter @CKomatsoulis.

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