CONWAY — The first day of the three-day, 20-game, 12-team, double-elimination Mud Bowl, the 2019 Championships of Mud Football, splashes off Friday at Steve Eastman Memorial Field at Hog Coliseum out behind the North Conway Community Center, with four women’s teams competing in their own tourney.
The mud was tilled Thursday using a tractor on loan, once again, from Sherman Farm and driven by Jeff Hatch, with water and hoses supplied by the North Conway Water Precinct and North Conway Fire Department, as players and volunteers helped spray the water.
Among the media on hand this weekend is a South Korean Voice of America film crew, who note that they will have their footage ready for posting on their “Walk Into America” program on Facebook and YouTube “in about two weeks.”
The women’s tourney begins today at 9 a.m. between the MerMuds and MudMaids, followed by a match between the Mud Dogs women’s team against an as-yet-unnamed team at 12:40 p.m.
Game 3 is set for Saturday at 11:45 a.m. and the women’s championship game is Sunday at 3 p.m.
On the men’s side, at 9:40 a.m. are the Mount Washington Valley Mud Things led by captain Joe McCusker and the 11-time champion MWV Hogs led by six-year veteran Tom Vestal and quarterback Tommy Wagner.
Game 2 is at 10:40 a.m. between Jack’s Predators and the Rowley Mud Ducks, both of Massachusetts.
Game 3 at 11:40 a.m. is between the 2001 champion Mudcats and 2005 champion North Shore Mudsharks of Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire.
Matching up in Game 4 at 1:10 p.m. are the Massachusetts Mud Dogs playing the local two-time champion Jason Veno- and Chris Olds-led North Country Mud Crocs.
Game 5 at 2:10 p.m. features the Cumberland (R.I.) Muckaneers against the 20-time, defending champion Muddas Football Club of Amherst led by quarterback Jason Holder and a legion of cagey veterans.
Game 6 at 3:10 p.m. finds the eight-time champion and always competitive Nashua Gumbys led by Donnie Chambers battling the 1972 founders of the sport of mud football, the Carrabassett Valley Rats of Kingfield, Maine.
The theme for Saturday’s Tournament of Mud Parade is “Mudeo Games.” Float themes include Frogger, Pac Man, Super Mario, Angry Birds, Madden NFL, Pong, Donkey Kong, Pokemon and Sonic the Hedgehog.
The parade will head south from the parking lot of John H. Fuller Elementary at 10 a.m. and proceed down North Conway’s Main Street to the judges’ reviewing stand in front of the North Conway Train Station.
The parade awards prizes to the top floats in the team class and to the top entrant in the open class. Parade chair is Josh Snell who may be contacted at JSnell@svmsnellbros.com.
The parade and Mud Bowl are sponsored by Amoskeag Beverages LLC of Bow, distributors of Lite Beer by Miller, with prizes of $250, $150 and $100 being awarded. Teams donate their winnings to the charity of their choice. In the open class, winners may keep their winnings.
Play continues Saturday starting with Game 7 at 12:15 p.m. between the loser of Game 1 against the loser of Game 2 and continues with Games 8 through 12 on the hour, with the day’s final game beginning at 5:30 p.m.
On Sunday, in the championship round, play starts at 8 a.m. with Game 13 with a matchup between the No. 8 seed and the No. 9 seed and continues every hour, concluding with Game 20, the Mud Bowl finals, at 3:30 p.m.
New this year will be halftime competitions, including piggyback races and spouse-carrying races from end zone to end zone.
Cheerleading squads will also be featured, including the MWV Hoggettes and the Mudbassadors.
Money raised by Mud Bowl is donated to the North Conway Community Center, Vaughan Learning Center and Carroll County Retired Senior Volunteer Program, as well as other non-profits in the Mount Washington Valley.
Each $15 ticket ensures entrance into the games Friday, Saturday and Sunday and doubles as a raffle ticket for a $500 prize on Saturday and Sunday.
Day tickets are $6 for ages 14 and up and $4 for ages 6 to 13. A family package are also available (two adults and two children) for $15 per day.
Mud Bowl quilt raffle tickets are being sold: three for $5 or seven for $10. The drawing will be at Horsefeathers Saturday evening. For raffle information, call (603) 356-2096.
Souvenir programs are available in town and at the North Conway Community Center. Pick one up for all the details. Volunteers are needed and appreciated.