Written by: Michael Reeves
New England and Kendama in the same sentence? That’s rare... But not for long!
On July 4th, 2018 the First Annual New England Kendama Classic took place in Amesbury, Massachusetts.
Between an attendance of over 50, including Krom Pro Bonz Atron, 1000$ in cash prizes, and an abundance of learning experiences for attendees and organizers alike, we are absolutely stoked on the turnout. So how did we do it?
First off let’s clarify who is "we"...
In reality, over 100 people contributed to this event. Each person who spread the word and/or shared an idea made the event what it was and we sincerely appreciate you all.
But in the end of the day, most of the work was done by Eli Bailin and myself, so let me briefly introduce us.
Meet Eli Bailin,
Eli has been playing with skill toys for “a long time”. He was a professional yo-yo player, and now he organizes large scale events (like road races and brewfests) for a living.
*yo-yo players, ever heard of “The Eli Hop”? Yeah, that’s the Eli.*
Eli’s network and experience hosting larger events were essential to the events success. But he had never hosted a Kendama event before, which is where I come in...
I’m pretty much just a guy from Connecticut who loves kendama. The first time I picked one up in was in 2011 and I’ve been building community since 2014.
I have experience hosting jams and small competitions, but I had never hosted something this big / official. So our partnership as organizers was perfect.
*Note Eli and I only connected because of a friend from Maine, Aaron Dutremble who came out to my first jam in 2017. **Never underestimate the power of putting yourself out in this community, you never know what it will lead to years later.**
This year, The New England Kendama Classic (“The NEKC” for short) was held on July 4th in a big field where locals gather to watch fireworks.
The NEKC was organized in partnership with a bigger group of events know as Amesbury Days. Amesbury Days is a local tradition in Eli’s hometown, Amesbury Massachusetts, where the town has a week full of fun events leading up to July 4th.
Eli recently became the main organizer for Amesbury Days, so we were able to receive some funding to support the event. Big thanks to Amesbury Days as well as Sweets, KendamaUSA, Krom, Sol, & Active for sponsoring.
The event included a jam the night before (shoutout @barewolfbrewery), Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Speed Ladders, Open Division, Freestyle, and some mini games. While the event itself was fun, some of the best moments were the downtime before & after the competitions just hanging out making friends.
*PRO TIP Always try to come early and stay late for big events.*
This year we had attendees coming from as far as Maine to Pennsylvania. It was at least 10 people’s first Kendama event ever, and by far the biggest event New England has ever seen.
As of now, we are planning to host The NEKC every year, so long as Amesbury Days is willing to support it.
We have a lot of ideas to make the event better for next year, stay tuned on our Instagram for updates.