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Cornhole tournament bags funds for Gallatin Invasive Species Alliance

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The champions, Sean Efferson and Dave Harder, show off their prizes. PHOTO BY JENNIFER MOHLER AND KATIE COLEMAN

By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF

BIG SKY – Bagging a peak usually refers to the accomplishment of reaching the highest point of a mountain marked by a U.S. Geological Survey benchmark. However, on the evening of Aug. 3, Bag the Peak, a punny fundraiser hosted by the Gallatin Invasive Species Alliance, gave this well-known phrase a new meaning and raised funds by literally having people throw bags at the peak—or at least images of it. 

Sixteen competitive teams of two corn hole players gathered with friends and spectators at the Crail Ranch Gardens to sip beers, eat food and throw bags of kernels not at the actual Lone Mountain but rather at images of the iconic peak printed on custom boards. The photos on the boards featured Lone Mountain at sunset and with a meadow and were donated by Kevin Fosse and Melissa Richterich of Peak Photography.

The inaugural event was the brain child of GISA Executive Director Jennifer Mohler, the alliance’s sole staff member.  

Each team played four rounds and the top four teams went into the playoffs. Three of the teams were undefeated heading into the playoffs, making for some stiff competition, according to Mohler. 

Sean Efferson and Dave Harder emerged as the champions of the evening, earning themselves a custom pottery vase, a handmade benchmark trophy and, of course, bragging rights. 

The benchmark was a unique prize conceived of by Mohler who was inspired by the USGS’s survey markers found at the top of peaks. Thus, Bag the Peak takes on a double meaning: in addition to tossing cornhole bags at an image of Lone Peak, victors took home a trophy to symbolize the bagging of an actual peak.  

“The goal for this first year was to make it so much fun that people would be looking forward to coming back,” Mohler said of the event. 

The funds raised by the tournament will support the alliance’s efforts to be a proactive force in combating invasive species which include weed pulls, community education programs and maintenance of the Crail Gardens. 

After play had ended, participants were already discussing plans to make team jerseys and practice ahead of next year’s tournament. Mohler said the event was a huge success and she likes the cornhole tournament because it is family friendly, anyone can play and it gets people outside. 

Kevin Fosse and Melissa Richterich of Peak Photography donated images of Lone Mountain to create the custom boards participants played on in the tournament. PHOTO BY JENNIFER MOHLER AND KATIE COLEMAN

Now, the alliance will be auctioning off one of the custom cornhole sets in an online auction at biddingowl.com/GallatinInvasiveSpeciesAl which will conclude on Aug. 31 at the Crail Gardens Open House. 

Mohler hopes to continue holding this unique fundraiser in the future and to expand play. 

“The competition was spirited, the food was delicious and the weather was perfect, which was just fantastic,” Mohler said. “We really appreciate Big Sky showing up with such spirit and sportsmanship for our first ever cornhole tournament. We look forward to seeing them next year for sure.”

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