SOCORRO, N.M. November 1, 2012 – NRAO engineer and New Mexico Tech graduate Ephraim Ford is working to eliminate one item from his bucket list – getting into the Guinness Book of World Records.
Ephraim Ford displays the upsized beanbag case for his attempt at setting a world record for the largest cornhole game board. Assisting Ford is his son, Robinson.
A diagram for a regulation size cornhole board. Ephraim Ford and friends will build a board 10 times this big.
What’s cornhole? It’s a popular game in the Midwest in which players toss beanbags at a 2-foot by 4-foot board and try to get the beanbag into the hole from 24 to 27 feet away. In other words, think of a beanbag and board take on horseshoes.
He’s already heard from the Guinness organization that he would earn his place in the book of world records if his effort is a success, adheres to a few guidelines and is successfully documented. Guinness already recognizes some records related to the game – such as longest throw and most people competing at once – but no one has tried to build the largest board.
Because there is no record, Guinness requires new feats to represent a 10-fold increase over the standard board to guarantee a record. He could have built a board a bit smaller, but Guinness wouldn’t guarantee him a “world record.” “Go big or go home,” Ford said.
This means Ford and his cohorts will build a game board that is 20-feet-wide by 40-feet-long, with a five-foot hole to accommodate a 5-foot wide square beanbag. It will be 3 feet off the ground in front and 10 feet off in the rear.
The board and beanbag also must be made of the same materials as the customary game. So, Ford and friends will be using lumber and plywood – 25 sheets of plywood and over 1000 feet of lumber. In all, he expects the structure to weigh a little over a ton.
A native of Las Cruces and a graduate of New Mexico State University and New Mexico Tech, Ford learned the game after earning his bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering and moving from Las Cruces to Iowa, where cornhole is a popular game at backyard gatherings and tailgate parties.
“I’ve built a few cornhole sets,” he said. “When I came back to New Mexico, I spread the word and got some friends to play it.”
As a longtime resident of Las Cruces, Ford grew up attending the Whole Enchilada Festival, where the world’s largest enchilada is cooked up each year. He originally thought of breaking a food-based record, but recently settled on cornhole while playing the game during a family vacation.
Because of the size of the endeavor, the planning has required some degree of engineering and planning. “I’m an engineering manager with NRAO and graduated from Tech with a Master’s in Engineering Management, so this is a sort of silly application of what I do – and a change of pace.”
A standard sized cornhole game board
The beanbag is the easiest thing to upsize, Ford said. He has a friend with an industrial sewing machine who will take care of that operation. Will it be too heavy to throw? Not really, he said. He compared it to throwing a large garbage bag since it will weigh around 15 pounds.
After an off-site assembly of some modular pieces, the crew will be building the game on Monday, Nov. 12, on campus – likely just south of Speare Hall. Students are welcome to join the effort, which is expected to take all of the morning.
Ford is married to Dr. Julie Ford, Associate Professor of Technical Communications at Tech. She is skeptical about the project’s timeframe, but she is confident her husband will make it happen.
“I think it’s great,” she said, she said between chuckles. “He is the kind of guy who – when he says he’ll do something – as ridiculous as it sounds – he’ll make it happen.”
Another factor for inclusion in Guinness is that the game must be functional. In other words, upon completion of construction, people will play the game. Anyone will be welcome to join in the not-so-competitive competition and pose for photos in front of the board.
Following the tailgating tradition of having your team or university’s logo on the board, Ford is planning on putting an oversized Tech logo on the board. And he’ll have to have an expert, ideally a licensed surveyor, to measure the board to provide official dimensions. There will also be plenty of photographic and video evidence provided to Guinness.
The game will be left up all day November 12, and then disassembled that evening or on November 13. Ford plans on donating much of the materials – unless a student group volunteers to help disassemble, store and take responsibility for the game.
Anyone interested in helping build the game or willing to house and store the game can contact Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech