US Kubb Open returns to Beloit

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BDN file photo Nick Faralli tosses a wooden baton at Kubb blocks during a previous U.S. Kubb Open. This year the Kubb Tournament will be held Aug. 10 in Riverside Park.

BELOIT ญญ- Game enthusiasts from around the United States soon will visit Beloit to play a game that's centuries old, but still unknown to many.

One rumor is the popular sport known as Kubb was started over 1,000 years ago by Vikings who played with the skulls and bones of their victims. However, another more probable theory is that the Scandinavian game was originally played using off cuts from chopped firewood.

There are dedicated people around the Stateline Area (and world) who are looking to grow the sport. Their efforts are paying off, as the U.S. Kubb Open continues to be a staple of summertime in Beloit each year.

Kubb United - with its partners Beloit Parks and Leisure Services, Visit Beloit and DuPont ญญ - will host the 2019 Kubb Open on Aug. 10 in Riverside Park, 1160 S. Riverside Drive.

Kubb United is a local nonprofit whose mission is to promote the game of Kubb.

The game is similar to horseshoes or bowling, where competitors use batons to knock over wooden blocks. Once all of the blocks have been eliminated, a team can go after the king block in the center to win the game.

Kubb United Secretary Evan Fitzgerald said players from all over the nation will have the opportunity to face off against each other. The teams are mostly from the Midwest, but teams from Virginia, California and even Switzerland have expressed an interest in playing in the tournament.

"We're really seeing Kubb grow all over the U.S. as it seems teams are popping up all over," Fitzgerald said.

He even participated in a Kubb tournament out in Los Angeles back in April.

Fitzgerald expects to have 50-60 teams compete this year. He asks teams to register for the tournament to sign up by Aug. 3.

On the day of the tournament, registration is from 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. with games starting at 9 a.m.

Those who have never played Kubb are welcome and encouraged to enter the tournament.

"It's a really simple game. Even if you're someone who hasn't played, we have some volunteers to go around and help coach them," Fitzgerald said. Once you play one game, you'll learn 95% of the rules. You'll find Kubb is very welcoming to new players."

The cost to enter is $50 for teams. Teams are guaranteed to play at least eight games. Teams consist of two people, though teams can add a third player for free if the player is 14 years or younger.

As the day progresses, teams will be ranked based on how well they perform, so by the end of the day teams of comparable skill levels will be competing against each other.

Concessions will be provided by the Beloit Youth Hockey Association.

During the Kubb tournament, Visit Beloit will be hosting a rock, paper scissors tournament. Fitzgerald said participants can sign up at 10 a.m. for matches that will begin at noon.

When thinking about the future of Kubb, Fitzgerald said he would like to work on continuing to grow the sport internationally. He's even working with groups in Belgium, Germany and Switzerland to create a set of internationally accepted rules so the sport can one day be recognized by the Olympics.

After the tournament on Aug. 10, the next day Kubb United will host a free tournament on Aug. 11 at Riverside Park for individual players. Fitzgerald said this relaxed event for people to show up and learn how to play. Players can show up that day at 9 a.m.

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