By Amy Nicole Tangel
With fall upon us come tailgating and football, but there also comes the remembrance of 9/11 and honoring those we lost. This year, one of Long Island’s most popular custom cornhole builders is bringing it all together in a tournament for charity.
Jeff Garrison, a native of Coram, NY, said the first cornhole set he built was just on a whim. The former career bartender and recreational cornhole tournament player said it was eight years ago when he and his cousin decided to go to a game at MetLife Stadium and began planning their tailgating activities. Cornhole was an idea Jeff said, but they didn’t have a set, so he just randomly went to Home Depot one day and bought the wood to make the boards.
He made his first set, one board for his team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and one for his cousin’s team, the New York Giants. Jeff brought it to the stadium gameday and while tailgating, he said a man kept coming up to him and haggling him in disbelief that he made the boards himself. One last time the man came up to him again, offered him $150 if he swore he made it himself, and Jeff said the rest was history.
From that moment on, Jeff said he began thinking about making a business out of it and started making them for family and friends. Through word-of-mouth and Instagram as his only two means of advertising, Jeff has become one of the top Long Island Cornhole custom builders working right from his garage.
“It’s just always been out of the garage,” he said.
As his first charity tournament since Pre-Covid in honor of 9/11 and the 20th anniversary of the tragedy, Lazyboys Cornhole in partnership with apparel company, Back the Blue NY Inc., are presenting “A Tournament for Heroes: 20 Years never Forgotten,” a 32-team-social cornhole event hosted by America’s First Warehouse in Ronkonkoma, Sunday, Sept. 12 to benefit Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
Tunnel to Towers is a non-profit organization that supports military and first responders in honor of firefighter Stephen Siller, who heroically sacrificed his life on 9/11 to save others. Jeff said for Lazyboys Cornhole, 9/11 is near and dear to their hearts and they hold great pride for first responders. Even if it’s in small ways Jeff said they always want to do whatever they can to help.
“I’d hate to see another Sept. 11, but I’d like to see another Sept. 12; that was the day when everyone came together,” he said.
What started out just as a simple idea of building his boards is now taking on a life he never imagined, and so has his support for charity and helping others. Last year was the first year Lazyboys Cornhole raised funds for Tunnel to Towers. When Jeff made a set of boards and raffled them off to benefit the organization, he raised $3500. The Sept. 12 event is the biggest cornhole tournament Lazyboys Cornhole has hosted to date, and Jeff said he hopes for this to become an annual event.
Before the tournaments comes the board-building operations, which run from March to December, with Jeff making about 300 sets a year. But with Covid, Jeff said he has been lacking access to affordable wood. With the inflation in prices, he said the demand became a challenge for him to keep up.
“I couldn’t get my hands on any wood last year, so I did what I could. I was selling sets I had from tournaments and now I am back filling that this year,” he said.
The demand and popularity of Lazyboys Cornhole boards has recently led Jeff to moving from his home garage in Coram to a bigger workshop in Ronkonkoma. But that doesn’t mean the business has expanded beyond its roots; along with the support of his wife and parents, he brought the whole family along. Everything Jeff learned about woodworking came from his father Jim while he was growing up he said, and when his dad retired, they just started building together naturally and working the business.
The quality is of utmost importance to him, so if a request takes that extra touch artistically to come out just right, Jeff said he to turns to Mario from Red Dragon Graphics to make it all happen. Most requests for sets involve sports, but Jeff said they never cease to amaze him from time to time. While trying to keep it “family-friendly,” he said he loves to be as creative as possible with logos and designs.
“I love doing monograms, any kind of custom lighthouse, Long Island-based stuff is fun, but we’ll do anything,” said Jeff.
Builders of Jeff’s kind are rare in the Northeast, but he said in the south cornhole boards are being made hundreds by the day with the recent trend in the game. Major companies like State Farm and AT & T also caught on and have recently used cornhole sets with their logos on them as part of their advertising campaigns. Locally, Lazyboys Cornhole has built sets for businesses such as Chubs meats, Claudio’s in Greenport and for all Miller’s Ale House locations across Long Island.
“It’s perfect for advertising; It’s just amazing. You can make a game out of it. Anyone can play, any age,” he said.
Logos are where it’s at Jeff said when it comes to sparking his creativity for the sets he builds and the merchandise he creates for his own company logo, “LBCH.” Taglines such as “Bags, Beers, Holes” and his Ocean Parkway logo have become the most recognizable images. Jeff said he is excited about his new fall merchandise which includes a new neon “LBCH” logo that looks like a beer sign and long sleeve t-shirts.
“Keep it relevant. Keep it Long Island. Keep it home-based,” he said.
The upcoming tournament is coming close to capacity for teams to register, but there are still spots available. Sponsorship registration is set at $200 for a two-person team and $50 for non-players which includes all you can eat and drink. In addition, there will also be a DJ, raffles and guest speakers throughout the day. To date, over twenty local vendors and sponsors for the event have signed on to support such as Daisy’s Nashville Lounge, Blue Line Beer, Boozy Cupcakes, On the Border and Village Cigar.
As far as getting back to making boards in his new location, Jeff said he will be taking new orders with a limited run now through December, beginning the week of Sept. 13. Having finally been able to re-stock on wood, Jeff said he is ready to get going again and make all the sets he can possibly make and have them ready.
“My goal is to have cornhole at every house on Long Island and hopefully, I make it happen,” he said.
For more information on the tournament and everything Lazyboys Cornhole, from orders to staying up-to-date on the latest designs and events, follow them on Instagram @lazyboyscornhole.