BocceFest: The History
In early 2004 we decided to have a small group of friends over to play some bocce ball, little did we know what we had started! Here’s the history behind BocceFest and how it has become the amazing event it is today.
October 25th 2003: INSPIRATION:
At a friend's birthday party, the Cubbage's were introduced to the game of Bocce for the very first time. No one at the party had every played the game before and it seemed like a fun way to pass the time. It didn't take long to catch our interest and plant the seed of a great idea.
March 27th 2004: A TRADITION BEGINS
With approximately 24 friends in attendance, we grilled hamburgers and hotdogs and attempted to play bocce on our very "extreme" courts with a few painted lines and a rough board for a back wall. Eleven teams completed in our Cubbage Beer, BBQ and Bocce Festival, a double elimination tournament with two players to a team. The games were a smash hit and even though the tournament ran longer than anticipated, everyone stayed glued to the courts as games continued into the night. As darkness fell on the games that were not yet complete, cars were lined up to provide lighting for the games. At 9:30 PM Dave Cubbage and Kareem Leggett claimed the honor of being the first official BocceFest champions.
September 17th 2005 : A CHAMPIONSHIP IS BORN
We officially renamed our event from the Cubbage Beer, BBQ and Bocce Festival to BocceFest. The winning team would take home the Cubbage Cup and be declared BocceFest Champions. We doubled the number of courts from two to four and increased the teams from eleven to sixteen with about thirty five people in attendance. The trend of increasing the number of courts would continue for the next five years until ten courts were added. The championship court was lined with 4x4s and court dimensions were 13' wide x 90' long.
The event was moved from March to September so that there would be more light on the courts and make it easier to finish the games. Sean Doyle and Mike Moore took home the first Championship cups and were declared BocceFest champions at 9:45 PM.
August 12th 2006 : THE TOURNAMENT GROWS
In 2006 the attendees and teams increased again with fifty-two people in attendance and nineteen teams playing in the tournament. The tournament went from being run on a piece of paper to a large dry erase bracket board which hung on the fence. A few popup tents were added to sit and enjoy watching the games in the shade. To support the increase in the number of teams, an additional fifth court was added. Expanding of the popularity of the walls on the single court in 2005, all five courts now had rear and side walls in addition to clearly marked boundaries. The spocking line, center lines and court numbers were all painted in each court. Despite the expansion of the courts, the terrain still remained extremely rough with over half of the courts having numerous large bare dirt spots.
The scoring underwent signficant changes in 2006. Previously all games were played to 15 points, but a reduction was deemed necessary to help facilitate faster game play as the number of teams continued to increase. Games were divided into two categories: Rounds through quarterfinals were played to twelve points and the semi-finals and finals were played to 15 points.
To reduce the amount of effort in hosting, the event was catered for the first time and eliminated the need for grilling. The traditional of catering with some form of barbeque food would continue for the next nine years. BocceFest was moved yet again, this time to August so that it would align more closely with Cory's birthday. Dave Cubbage and Dan Grove faced off against Cara Cubbage and Matt Scott in the final game. Dave became the first repeat winner as he and Dan went on to clinch the win at 10:15 PM.
August 11th 2007 : A WIN FOR THE HOME TEAM
2007 was a transformational year for BocceFest with many major changes taking place that still exist today. We invested in the backyard to ensure the quality of play would continue to improve. In the months leading up to BocceFest, Cory and Dave invested countless hours installing sod, leveling the backyard, and watering nonstop to provide a more level and even playing surface. The court size increased again, this time to seven. New custom court walls were manufactured and stencils were created to number the courts, resulting in the best looking field that BocceFest had ever hosted. Large 48” belt fans were strategically placed around the yard to help provide air flow on the hot summer day. The tents grew from two popup tents to several long canopy tents, allowing for more shade, tables and chairs.
An official logo was created for the event and a banner was hung on the house to let the neighborhood know what was happening. To reduce confusion on the custom rules an official BocceFest ruleset was created and posted on the fence wall. In the spirit of kicking it up a notch, we encouraged all teams to have a team name in 2007. Cory and Brad went all out with team uniforms and a team name, The Bocce Ballers. All winners for previous were given a customized “Cubbage BocceFest Champion” shirt with their winning year on it.
Seventy people attended BocceFest 2006 in which twenty-five teams played in the double elimination tournament. Boccelism (Cara Cubbage and Matt Scott) returned to the finals once more but were defeated this time by The Bocce Ballers at 10:15 PM that evening. For the first time the host could claim to have won BocceFest!
August 9th 2008 : TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL
In 2008 we held our fifth annual BocceFest with record attendance and team participation. Continued improvements helped turn BocceFest into a phenomenon. Expanding to nine courts, we rotated our layout front to back and reduced court sizes were reduced to 9’ x 60’to allow additional room to play. Custom scoreboards were constructed and placed at the end of courts to allow for easier tracking of the score throughout the game.
The Bocce Ballers started a new trend. Year five saw several teams sporting matching team uniforms and for the first time all teams were required to have a set roster and a team name. Attendance was up 65% from the previous year, setting a record of over 90 attendees and a mind boggling thirty-nine teams! The tents, tables and chairs continued to increase, more than doubling in size and area. Unfortunately as the size of the event continued to grow, the games continued to finish later and later. In 2008 the final games were completed at 11:37 PM.
In the midst of continued change, the result were the same once again. Dave and Dane became the first repeat champions with Dave taking his third title in five years. It quickly became known that Dave and Dan were a serious force to be reckoned with on the field.
August 8th 2009 : HITTING OUR STRIDE
To try and capture the amount of effort that was now required to prepare the courts for BocceFest, a time-lapse video was created of the setup and preparation. To support even more teams, a tenth (and final?) court was added to the field. Aimee created “The History of BocceFest” chronology board which featured select pictures of the years of BocceFest 2004 – BocceFest 2008.
As the attendees crested 125 the field of competitors grew to 43 teams and it became imperative to create a central point of contact for all attendees. A registration center was created that helped identify the teams and track them throughout the tournament. A boardAs the regulars continued to come back year after year, the quality of games continued to improve as everyone became familiar with the rules and helped streamline the process of playing for our new players.
For the first time, the competition pushed back midnight and finished at 12:19 AM. Into the late hours, Dave and Dan were still playing and it looked like a three peat was in the cards but the Cubbage Bocc Kids (Sean Doyle, Josh Wert) came back from behind to steal the win. This would be Sean Doyle’s second BocceFest championship in five years. A summary video was created for BocceFest and posted online for all attendees.
The Cubbages would like to thank all of our friends and family for their continued support. BocceFest would not be possible with you all! Thank you for being a part of our history and we look forward to you seeing your next year!
July 31st 2010: A NEW BOCCEFEST
Time-lapse of the fourteen hour setup on Friday before BocceFest was taken again as the dedicated support team of twelve constructed the field for the day before. In addition to setup time-lapse, game day time-lapse photography was first under taken as well. BocceFest 2010 began a rough stretch of years where the court quality began to degrade slightly due to brutally intense summer heat. For the first time court lighting was established overtop of court four. If the games were going to last late into the night at least there would be sufficient lighting to see the court. Paint details were improved as court stencils were standardized and alternating color sets that were placed on every other court. A customized BocceFest logo was painted on several locations around the yard.
The length of BocceFest was starting to become an issue and serious thought was put into how we shapes the event to finish at a more reasonable time. Due to the continued growth of BocceFest a pooled/tournament format was undertaken in favor of the double elimination format that had been used since the inception of BocceFest. Pools of four teams would play each other once and the top ranked 24 teams would advance to a single elimination tournament. The start time of the event was also moved forward from 12:00 PM to 11:00 AM in the hopes that a more reasonable completion time could be achieved. The changes were surprisingly successful. In addition to provide a minimum of three games for every team over the two in the older format, the games finished three and a half hours earlier at 8:51 PM. In addition to a new format, BocceFest received a new and updated logo which was featured prominently around the field.
With 48 teams playing in BocceFest 2010 and in an attempt to continue game organization, pictures were taken of every team and posted on the fence on top of a massive 24 foot board listing that contained the team names, player names and the teams in each of the twelve pools. Cory and his brother Craig devised a ranking formula to try and place teams evenly across each of the twelve pools. Additionally the scoring format was changed once more, lowering the points to win pool play games to 11 and keeping tournament games at 15 points.
As the number of children at the event continued to increase, more thought was put into how to the event could be made more child friendly. The first moon bounce arrived in 2010 and has been at every BocceFest since.
Due to the constant growth and cost of BocceFest, an entrance fee of $20 was required for each team participating at the event. For the first time BocceFest was officially a charity event. Since we were beginning to gather large crowds of people, shouldn’t we try to collect something additional for someone in need? Our first attempt at fundraising collected over $200 for Fisher House.
The Bocce Ballers faced Crab balls in the final game, a team they had already defeated once in pool play earlier in the day. They once again defeated Crab Balls in the final 15-5, winning their second championship in four years. The Bocce Ballers boasted an undefeated record of 7-0 for the day and proved their placement at a #1 seed was justified.
August 6th 2011: 56 TEAMS!
BocceFest 2011 was the highest attendance event to date with 192 attendees and 56 teams. The pooled/tournament format from 2010 was put to the test in 2011 when an additional eight teams signed up to play. To help differentiate the different pools, each pool was assigned a color as well as a number. Each player in a pool was given a band of that color to help other teams find players in their pool to schedule games.
Individual game scores were recorded for the first time which helped allow us to gather information that we would use to further refine the tournament moving forward. The concept of TPD (Total Point Differential) was first captured and used for seeding and ranking information. Instead of using a dry erase board for a bracket, an Excel formula was created to automatically populate teams as they advanced through the tournament. Managing the bracket board had previously become a very tedious and time consuming event which moving electronically helped ease significantly.
A dedicated walkway was established between courts five and six in the middle of the field to allow attendees to easily traverse from the front to the back of the field. Courts six through ten were offset from one through five and tents were shifted to the rear of the field due to a large portion of the yard which had not survived the summer. Parts of the field were painted green in an attempt to hide how poor the conditions were on the field.
After finishing 4-2 in 2010, second year team #10 Pallinos In My Pants (Jordan Milbert, Jillian Milbert) quickly moved through the games and defeated the surprise #37 Buck and a Quarter (Jack Tortulucci, Jill Harrelson) 15-7 in the finals at 9:28 PM.
August 4th 2012: BACK TO BACK
After setting a record number of teams at 56 in 2011, a more manageable 52 team tournament was scheduled for 2012. While the tournament may have been slightly downsized, several components of the tournament were increased.
The new trophy was anything but reduced in size, increasing from an 8" trophy to a large 24" gold cup. The Cubbage Cup would be mounted on a wooden circular base that would contain the winners from each BocceFest. The Cubbage Cup would remain at the Cubbage household and winners were given an engraved plaque to take home. In addition to increasing the size of the trophy, the registration fee to play in the games was increased from $20/team to $50/team. The number of teams to make the single elimination tournament was increased from 24 to 28, granting the top four seeds a first round bye.
In an attempt to add additional bonuses to game play, the concept of Badges and Bounties were introduced as awards. These individual awards could be won by meeting certain criteria (Scoring the most points in the tournament, winning the tournament, etc.) Cash prizes were assigned to the various awards and were distributed at the end of the event. Tracking of the awards proved to be too difficult however and it was decided that an automated system would be required to successfully implement Badges and Bounties as envisioned.
For the fist time ever the same two teams who appeared in the previous year's final met for a rematch. Once more Pallino's in my pants proved to be too much for Buck and a Quarter and took home another set of championship plaques.
August 4th 2013: BACK TO BASICS
We are always trying new things each year in an attempt to improve BocceFest. In 2012 we introduced several that we felt weren't ready for prime time just yet. In 2013 we removed the badges and bounties and downsized the tournament to 40 teams in an effort to speed up the event and attempt to complete the final games at a relatively reasonable hour. Not only were the team sizes reduced, but we decided to revert to print for team information instead of the electronic displays used in 2012. Other than this however, the rest of the event was the same as in years past. Famous Daves catered with delicious BBQ, ten courts were available for play and a set of veterans returned to the final game. Ballz to the Wall outlasted 2 Mikes 1 Pallino in the final game.
John Jiao Photography provided some amazing shots during the event and wile we have always had plenty of photography during the event, this year former BocceFest champ Mike Moore stepped up the quality of our pictures by adding professional lighting during the team registration as well as final champion pictures outside.
August 6th 2014: BOCCEFEST GOES ONLINE
2014 was a big year for BocceFest. In an attempt to improve efficiency and management of the games, we created our own customized tournament management system. All BocceFest games were scored frame by frame by one player of the teams that were playing. This allowed us to present real time statistics on the status of all games, ensure the proper matchups occurred and quickly move on to the next game. We created an official photo station in the basement where each team was required to have their picture taken which would be inserted into the pool displays to allow each team to easily find their upcoming competition.
The scoring format was once more updated and broken into three sections: Pool Play, Tournament Play and Finals. Pool play remained at eleven points, Tournament play was changed to thirteen points an finals were kept at 15 points. The reduction of points for tournament games helped
We scaled back up to 48 Teams this year, ready to put our tournament management system to work! Famous Daves provided catered the event once more and we added two baby sitters to help keep an eye on the kids so that the parents could relax and enjoy the games.
A perennial top ten team Chewbocce met up with two time champs The Bocce Ballers in the finals. Chewbocce came out ahead and took the ttile 16-9 @ 8:40PMimprove gameplay speed for the tournament games.
August 8th 2015: REMEMBERING MIKE MOORE
Ten years after winning the championship in 2005 and taking home the first official Cubbage Cup, our good friend Mike Moore passed away from cancer. In addition to displaying a memorial poster and video in his honor, BocceFest 2014 also collected several hundred dollars in donations for the National Brain Tumor Society.
Up through 2014, the most points that could be scored in a single frame was four. In 2015 "Kissing the Pallino" was added to allow teams to potentially score an additional point if their bocce ball was directly touching the pallino and bring the maximum points per frame up to five.
For the first time gameplay times were captured electronically. Keeping track of game start and end times allowed us to determine that on average an eleven point pool play game was completed in thirty-four minutes and roughly nine frames which a thirteen point tournament game was completed in 46 minutes and 12 frames.
BocceFest 2014 tied the highest team participation with 56 teams playing in the games. Court Ordered (Matt Scott, Eddie Giunta) went an undefeated 7-0 throughout the day and beat the highly seeded Nerd Ballers 15-1 in the finals at 8:02 PM.
August 6th 2016: REVENGE OF THE NERDS
The focus of BocceFest 2016 was #KickItClaire. Our eight year old niece Claire was diagnosed with cancer and we used BocceFest as a fundraising source to help cover some of her medical bills. Due to the awareness before, during and after BocceFest, over $5,000 was raised for the Brown family!
For the first time BocceFest had an official beer sponsor as word of the event continued to grow. After being catered for the past nine years, we opted to grill and prepare our own food for the event to help reduce event costs. With help from our attendees this was a tremendous success and was well received. We featured our first ever chili contest which was won by Dan Petrowski and Tim Armstrong. Both Dan and Tim earned entry to BocceFest 2017!
The weather in 2016 was quite intense. Factoring in the heat index, temperatures were over one hundred degrees! A severe thunderstorm was predicted to hit Saturday afternoon during the middle of BocceFest and tremendous preperation went into attempting to waterproof as much of the crowd as possible. Two large 100' tarps were tied down over all of the tents which were then zip-tied together and to the nearby items. Despite a downpour occurring elsewhere this day, BocceFest survived without a single drop of rain!
The technology continued improve in 2016 as we streamed live for the first time! The entire event was streamed lived over Twitch and the final few frames were streamed live on FaceBook. In addition to the streaming, six displays were mounted for quick reference of game rankings, pools information, play statistics and other useful game time information. As with the previous year, small improves were made to the tournament manage system that continued to improve its usefulness during the event.
We returned back to 52 teams with a large number of new team compositions playing in BocceFest 2016. The Nerd Ballers (Tony Fuda, Sarah Fuda) finally claimed a championship and defeated Tres Bolas de Bocce Grandes 15-13 in the final game, ending at 9:32 PM. More detailed information on BocceFest 2016 can be found on the blog here.
August 5th 2017: THREE-TIME CHAMPS
For 2017 we added several new things to improve the event, but by far the most talked about item was the pizza truck. Dave Cubbage’s craftsmanship was on full display for the Tomato Flyer Pizza Co. truck who handmade 150 pizzas for all our attendees, and man oh man were they delicious!
The championship game was a rematch from BocceFest 2007; Dave Cubbage and Dan Grove (Dos Bolas de Bocce Grandes) vs. Cory Cubbage and Brad McLaughlin (The Bocce Ballers). Despite being the #1 and #2 seeded teams coming into BocceFest 2017, these two teams haven’t met in the finals in ten years! The Bocce Ballers won the first match-up in 2007, but Dave and Dan took the Cubbage Cup home in BocceFest 2017 by defeating Cory and Brad in the final game 15‐ 7. Setting a record number of championships for a team with three, Dave and Dan continue their domination of the leader boards.
In addition to the pizzas, we increased our courts from 10 to 13, which allowed us to maintain a consistent pace for playing through all the games, even with a record number of teams playing we finished pooled play around 4:30 and our championship game completing at 9:30!! We also significantly improved court lighting for the evening games by added two 40,000 lumen flood lights along with several courtside lights. The cool daylight‐like color of the LEDs made for a pleasant experience as it was accompanied by the commentary of our color commentators and analysts Craig Cubbage and Tony Fuda.
Our final on‐site fundraising tally was just over $1100 to directly benefit Ella Strong and her family in their fight. We could not be more proud and grateful to be part of such a generous community of friends and family.
Our chili cook‐off returned to the festivities this year with three entries. Chris Shelly was voted The Best Chili of 2017!
August 4th 2018: FIFTEEN YEARS?!