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Summer is off-season for bowling, so Oregon Trail Lanes is running a cornhole league outside.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN VILLAGOMEZ - The eight-week-long Cornhole tournament is being held at the Oregon Trail Lanes parking lot in St. Helens.The parking lot at Oregon Trail Lanes is crowded on Thursday evenings this summer. But rather than cars filling the spaces, it's cornhole participants.

Kellie and Brandon Smith, the owners of Oregon Trail Lanes, have organized a summer cornhole league.

There were 12 duos participating in early July, but Brandon Smith said he hoped participation would increase as more people hear about the league.PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN VILLAGOMEZ - Amber McKinnis fist bumps her cornhole opponent after scoring a couple of points on her last turn.

"We have plenty of room to grow," Smith said.

Amber McKinnis and her fiancé Raimee Glick were sitting on their deck, scrolling through Facebook one evening, when they heard about the summer league.PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN VILLAGOMEZ - Raimee Glick stands out from the crowd, about to throw his cornhole bags during a July 8 game.

"We have played at barbeques and stuff — not well," McKinnis said. "We're not the best but we have a good time every Thursday."

McKinnis said that some of the other participants have played cornhole in tournaments in the past, but "no one takes it too seriously there. It's all in good fun."

Participating costs $10 per person per week, but the money goes into a prize pool for winners at the end of the eight weeks, with at least a $1500 payout.

The first night of the league was in late June, but anyone can join at any time. The league runs for eight weeks, putting the last night on Aug. 12.

"This is our first year doing it. We've been wanting to do it for a few years," Smith said.

Brandon and Kellie purchased the bowling alley in 2010, but it had already been in the family for decades, Brandon Smith said.

McKinnis said she doesn't go bowling often these days, but she went to Oregon Trail Lanes as a kid.

Each week, a different drink-maker comes to the event, including breweries like Hop Valley and 10 Barrel, alcoholic seltzer brand Truly, and Red Bull. They give out samples, and some, like Deschutes Brewery, have done raffles or given out prizes.PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN VILLAGOMEZ - Brandon Bartlett enjoys a Thursday night at the weekly cornhole event held in the parking lot of Oregon Trail Lanes.

The league is only open to people who are at least 21. The bowling alley also sells food.

"I didn't want it to just be cornhole," Smith said. For the championship event, there will be multiple vendors and raffles.

"The whole point is something to do in the summer. It's our off-season, so the parking lot is usually empty," Smith explained. "We're hoping it keeps growing and turns into a bigger thing."

Cornhole runs Thursdays starting at 6:30 p.m. through Aug. 12. New participants should call ahead to make sure there's space for them to join in.

Oregon Trail Lanes is located at 735 S. Columbia River Hwy in St. Helens. Call 503-397-1011.


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