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Annual Starr Home croquet tournament today at ETBU

By Ben Newland bnewland@marshallnewsmessenger.com
May 4, 2012 at 10 p.m.


Miss Margie's Wicket Wicket World of Croquet Tournament will carry on without its founder, Margie Perkins, once more this year on May 5, marking 20 years for the Friends of the Starr Family Home's fundraiser.

"Teams will tee-off 9 a.m. at ETBU's Practice Football Field for the first round," said event organizer Lynn Lomax. "Everyone wears white. It's Victorian themed."

"That was the era when the house was in its social heyday," said Friends of the Starr Family Home member Gail Beil. "People had permanent croquet lawns, and the Starr home did at one time as well."

"Margie's idea was that croquet was already fun, but was made more so if you could put yourself back in that era," she said.

Lunch will be provided at the field house.

"We've been very fortunate with all the help that ETBU has given us," she said. "The finals and lunch usually take place at the Starr home, but the yard is torn up, and we've had to hold it at ETBU for the last 2 years."

The tournament will last until 2 p.m. with the semi-finals and finals, once more, on the practice field.

Lomax said that the tournament was first organized by Margie Perkins, who passed in January 2011.

Perkins' name was added to the title in memory of her contributions.

A handful of Perkins' children still attend the event, according to Lomax.

"Miss Margie had the most wicked sense of humor, and her children inherited it" she said. "Her son joked that it was the first time that he had ever been and not been fussed at for being late. She's missed dearly."

"Margie could get anyone to get anybody to do anything she wanted," said Beil. "She was so charming - which is how she talked my husband into writing up the rules for the croquet tournament."

The event, which usually takes place in June, has been moved to May due to weather concerns.

"It was really just devilishly hot by then," said Lomax. "We had people with sunburns and just burning up. So, we decided to move it to May."

Beil recalls what she describes as "pretty vicious croquet matches."

"Some of the early winners took themselves very seriously," said Beil. "They might as well have been playing football, but it's that fake seriousness that makes it fun - particularly when 90 percent of us haven't played since last year's tournament."

The matches, including four preliminaries and semi-finals and finals, are played according to traditional rules. The rule requiring players to use only one hand has posed a particular challenge over the years, according to Beil.

"The Tournament began as a unique way to raise money for the Starr Home, at a time when its funding was severely threatened," she said.

The Starr Home now has its own set of croquet mallets and balls available to those that rent the facilities, according to Beil.

At the tournament, individuals and companies can choose to sponsor a wicket for $50, a team for $100, a stake for $200, and a field for $300.

Top corporate sponsors of the event include Citizen's national Bank, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Marshall Ford, Bancorp South, and Panola National Bank.

Proceeds from the event will go towards the Friends of the Starr Family Home, which tends to the Starr Family Home historic site.

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