cornhole

You don’t have to play cornhole to have a good time at the annual Wags & Bags Cornhole Festival on Saturday. Drink and food specials along with music make for a party with or without the beanbag tossing. (Special to AFN)

People have a chance to help brutalized dogs and have a good time playing cornhole at the fourth annual Wags & Bags Cornhole Festival this Saturday.

From noon to 7 p.m. March 2 at Ahwatukee Park, 4700 E. Warner Road, Ahwatukee, the dog-friendly event – presented by Arizona Fireplaces – will include a cornhole tournament geared towards social players, music, games, dogs, Florencia Pizza Bistro pizza and Denmark Burgers and Brats.

 Adults can also enjoy craft beer from Pedal Haus Brewery, cocktails from Tito’s Handmade vodka and tequila tasting of Roger Cline’s Mexican Moonshine.  

To register for the cornhole tournament, to prepay for festival tickets or to buy Wags & Bags swag and sponsorship opportunities, go to wagsandbags.org. All money raised at the event will benefit Valley Dogs Rescue.

The festival is a labor of love for Ahwatukee couple Josh and Marci Miller.

“The Wags & Bags Festival was born out of desire to raise money in a fun way that brings people together,” said Marci Miller. “We ran a very successful golf tournament, Fore the Dogs, for years, but finding golfers and sponsors was getting more difficult.”

“Last year we raised $32,000 and $74,000 total in the last three years,” she said. “We are hoping for $40,000 this year.”

Valley Dogs Rescue was formed “to rescue dogs that have been abandoned, neglected or otherwise placed in harm’s way; to provide temporary housing for adoptable dogs, and to promote and encourage the responsible care of pets, especially spaying or neutering, micro-chipping and vaccination of dogs and puppies,” according to its website.

Marci also said she and her husband “wanted to create an interactive event the whole community could be a part of.”

“We became fosters for Valley Dogs Rescue in 2009,” she added. “Over the years we’ve seen the amazing work the volunteers do in very challenging situations. We love that Valley Dogs Rescue is an all-volunteer organization, with no facilities or paid employees. We feel good in knowing every dollar we raise goes directly toward helping at-risk animals.”

“We loved the social aspects of bags, or cornhole,” she said. “The title Wags and Bags Festival came to us at a happy hour brainstorming session three years ago. The event has really taken off.”

Moreover, as the festival matures with time, it’s become a place to hang out even for people who don’t play cornhole. And it has spawned some collector’s souvenirs as well, since people can now buy signature caps and stainless steel beer mugs.

And while the Millers take the lead in coordinating it, Marcie said, “We have a dedicated group of amazing friends that really do the heavy lifting that make the event possible.”

One word of caution to women who plan to attend: “The bags” aren’t purses, but a reference to the bean bags that are part of the event’s cornhole tournament.

There are two levels to the contest this year, and two-member teams can sign up either as pros or non-pros. Cash prizes are given to the best pro teams while non-pros can compete for non-cash prizes.

Register: wagsandbags.org.

Admission to the fest is $5.

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