HILHAM – Standing Stone State Park will host the National Rolley Hole Marbles Championship and Festival on Saturday, Sept. 17, drawing some of the country’s best players to Tennessee in what is known as the Super Bowl of marbles.
In its 34th year, the event will include kids’ games, marble making, a swap meet, tournament play, demonstrations, live bluegrass music and food.
“The National Rolley Hole Marbles Championship is the world’s most challenging marble tournament, where only the finest players in the world compete,” said Shawn Hughes, park ranger and coordinator of the Rolley Hole Championship. “It’s been a great event for the park as it is so unique – the only one of its kind in the world.”
Hosted by park staff and the Friends of Standing Stone State Park, the festival will kick off at 8 a.m. Admission is free, although registration is required to play in the Rolley Hole Tournament.
According to Hughes, this one-of-a-kind event attracts players from different states and countries each year and has been featured by ESPN, ABC Evening News, Sports Illustrated, Tennessee Home & Farm, PBS, CNN, National Geographic, Southern Living magazine and more.
The game of marbles is an ancient and universal pastime. Rolley Hole is a folk game similar to croquet. It will be played by the rules of the National Rolley Hole Marbles Championship, on a dirt yard that measures 40-by-25 feet. The strategy comes by determining the best way to keep opponents from making the hole, which often requires skillful hard shots against their marbles, sending them ricocheting across the yard.
“Rolley Hole is a folk game that combines golf, pool, croquet and the strategy of chess, but dead aim is needed and you have to have a pretty strong thumb,” Hughes said. “Some of these players can hit a marble 10-12 feet away nine out of 10 times.”
In addition to the final championship, the festival will offer several separate marble tournaments for spectators and marble players to enjoy, including:
- Ringer – The official game of the National Marbles Tournament in Wildwood, New Jersey, for children between the ages of 8 and 14;
- Tennessee Square – A traditional Southern game that is still played in areas of northern Tennessee and southern Kentucky;
- Georgia Rolley Hole – The traditional marble game of Georgia;
- British – This game is played in a six-foot diameter ring that is dusted with fine sand. Some 49 marbles are then placed in the ring; and
- Arrowhead – The newest tournament of the event, this is a two-to-four player game, each with one shooter and 25 target marbles. The game can be played on a tabletop or in a ring.
“Standing Stone is the only state park with a marble yard, mainly due to the fact that some of the best players in the United States hail from Tennessee’s Clay County and Monroe County in Kentucky,” Hughes said. “What’s unique about the game is that players can range from ages eight to 70, so it’s designed for all ages and abilities.”
Standing Stone State Park is located 10 miles north of Livingston, just off Highway 52 near Celina, and covers nearly 1,000 acres. The park takes its name from the Standing Stone, an 8-foot tall rock standing upright on a sandstone ledge, which was supposedly used as a boundary line between two separate Native American nations. When the rock fell, a portion of it was placed upon an improvised monument to preserve it. The stone is still preserved in Monterey today. The park also has a 69-acre lake, cabins, a campground and 10 miles of hiking trails.
For more information about the festival and Standing Stone State Park, visit http://tnstateparks.com/parks/about/standing-stone or call (931) 823-6347.