Tournament Bucket List: Potlatch

Who are these people? Why are they dancing like this? Didn’t this song come out untold amounts of time ago? Didn’t its cultural relevance die in 1999 or earlier?

There’s really only one answer for these questions that would even come close to making sense.

Potlatch.

Ever since we became active and really interested in the frisbee community last summer we’ve heard about this legendary tournament. An event unto itself. Where else in the world can you find upwards of 100 teams, 2000 people, hundreds of pounds of freshly caught salmon and unbelievable amounts of alochol and fun? Nowhere.

From everything we’ve heard Potlatch, held late every summer at 60 Acres Park in Redmond, Wa. is the be all and end all of tournaments. When you have Team USA splitting up and showing up face off against other mixed teams like Sockeye and Riot, Gingervitis (An all red-headed squad) and Downtown Brown (An all dark-pigmented skin team) you know you’re in for a treat.

According to its site, Potlatch, which was named in honor of festival cermonies of the  indigenous northwest coastal peoples,  started in 1990 with only a few teams that took up only a fraction of the aptly named 60 Acre Park. 20 years later, the tournament has evolved into a giant frisbee orgy that produces scenes like this:

Potlatch

Photo Courtesy of Alpha Chen

In our opinion, Potlatch exudes all of the things that are awesome and great about ultimate. The pure athleticism, the unbridled joy of competing just for the sake of competing, the beer, the costumes, the friends and the fun. In the original tournament teams brought gifts for each other and applauded after every game. Now, instead of doing that, teams do things like this:

In 2006 Potlatch organizers spent over $63,000 on the event as a whole. Including $15,000 on the tournament party. Perhaps this is because we aren’t out of college yet but we have yet to attend a party that required more than $15 to put on. For it to be a party all someone has to do is walk down to the Shell Station and pickup a case of Bud Light.

As we mentioned before, the competition at Potlatch is unparalleled. The format of the tournament is mixed and last summer, Team USA split into two teams and entered into the field. Neither team won the coveted Potlatch Trophy. Open and women’s clubs from around the nation spend all year preparing for Potlatch and the effort can be seen in the specialized Potlatch bids.

Considering the popularity of the tournament, the organizers had to come up with some way to dole out bids and not leave deserving teams out in the cold. Thus, the Potlatch bid system was created. Teams are responsible for proving to tournament organizers why they deserve to be in the field at the tournament. This results in videos like the one that we started this entry with and others like this:

More than just videos are accepted though. Organizers find themselves up to their necks in paintings, poems and recorded songs. In fact, the bids have gotten so ridiculous that organizers must explicitly state that perishable goods are unacceptable.

Please don’t send perishable goods. We open the bid packages all at once for the selection process in late April, so items like fresh fruit or ice cream sent in March might not survive very well.

There are innumerable reasons why one would want to go to Potlatch. From the competition, to the neverending beer, to the legendary party or to just take it all in. The fact of the matter is, if you’re an avid ultimate player, then before you die, you’ve got to make it to…Potlatch

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One response to “Tournament Bucket List: Potlatch

  1. Hey, awesome blog, but I’d appreciate an attribution on that picture (http://www.flickr.com/photos/kejadlen/734476814/). It’s licensed under the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike CC license. Thanks!

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