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The Eastern Duckpin Classic Turns 85 in Mansfield

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Frank Barber.

Some of the best professional duckpin bowlers on the east coast gather this weekend for the Eastern Duckpin Classic in Mansfield.

In the 1920s and '30s, Connecticut residents Frank Barber and George Iseman arranged bowling tournaments between Connecticut duckpin bowlers, and some of the best bowlers from Washington, D.C. and Maryland, where the sport originated.

Those tournaments drew huge crowds, and in the process, lifted the popularity of duckpin bowling in Connecticut, and gave birth to the Eastern Classic.

This is the 85th Eastern Classic, now named after Frank Barber.

For the 85th time, the tournament will be held at Lucky Strike Lanes in Mansfield, February 28 to March 1.

Take a quick visit to Lucky Strike Lanes in the video below by Ryan King:

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Credit courtesy Dara Dominique
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courtesy Dara Dominique
The 1938 Eastern Classic, when Lucky Strike Lanes was in Willimantic. Perce Wolfe took First Prize with a score of 2060 pins over 15 games.
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Credit Ryan King
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Ryan King
Lucky Strike Lanes expects over 125 competitors at the Eastern Classic this weekend.

Colin Dunnack, the manager of Lucky Strike Lanes, won the Eastern Classic in 2011. His grandfather won the tournament in 1972. He said that while the best bowlers will compete for the first-prize cash award of $2,000, the Eastern Classic gives bowlers a chance to win money in other categories as well.

"There's also other divisions for B and C bowlers based on their average, so not only can the 150[-pin] average bowler bowl, we also have bowlers in the 130 average that will able to make their money back, and some," Dunnack said.

Over 120 duckpin bowlers are registered for this year's tournament, down from the record 399 bowlers in the 1969 tournament.

Duckpin bowling is a variation on ten-pin bowling, but with a much smaller ball and pins, making it harder to bowl strikes. A perfect 300 game has never been recorded in duckpin.

Ryan King contributed to this post.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series “Where Art Thou?” Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of “Morning Edition”, and later of “All Things Considered.”

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