Leisure Sports Festival is the brain child of Jim and Chris Convey. We came up with the concept while hosting card night every other Thursday night in our bar basement in our twin home that we rented together directly after college. It was during that time that we became tired of listening to people complain about what they considered “weak” beer. We challenged them in not being able to even tell the difference between brands. It was that thought process that spawned the concept of Leisure Sports Festival.
LSF officially began in our tiny townhome in Fort Washington, PA in 1999. There were 4 events that year: Wing Eating, Darts, Cards, and Beer Identification. 42 people paid $40 admission for that inaugural event. LSF stayed at the “Half Barrel” for 3 years until moving to Chris’ house in Oreland, PA for years IV and V. After the police arrived both years at his house, we felt it was time to graze in greener pastures. So we moved Leisure Sports to its permanent home at Mermaid Lake in Blue Bell, PA for LSF VI.
The advent of Nations also occurred at LSF VI which allowed friends to truly measure their mettle against other groups of friends. But it wasn’t until LSF VIII that you actually got to choose who you would be paired with in team events. Prior to that, names were always chosen out of a hat.
The website, which is largely responsible for the overwhelming success of LSF, was created for year V, and thus inspired the first “sell out” at the then capped 64 people. This remained the capacity and also sold out for the next 3 years until we removed the sell-out capacity in LSF IX.
This is when Leisure Sports Festival truly showed its popularity with attendance increasing exponentially over the subsequent years from 109 in IX, to 129 in X, to 212 in XI, and then to a whopping 296 in XII.
In the primitive years we kept track of results using paper. We then graduated to dry erase boards. But the true power of Leisure Sports Festival was not unleashed until The Engineer, Bryan Heron, invented PowerBook in LSF IX which powers LSF to this day. This invention allowed the entire event to be run off of a networked system of computers with display boards now emerging as monitors. This changed LSF for all time.
Through the years we have always focused on the competition first, but not forgetting about other elements and surprises. LSF has seen the likes of parachuters, drummers, violin players, and a bagpipe. A Parade of Nations and Medal Ceremony have been implemented to add to the ambience. We have introduced new food such as a pig roast, funnel cake, and soft pretzels. And we have surprised contestants on the day of the event with the launching of 2 brand new events, Beer Pong and Tug of War amid much fanfare.
But the one constant through all the years has been friends and leisure sports. After all, everything else is just gravy…