More than 2,000 people are in town this weekend for the 2017 Eagles State Pool Tournament.
The tournament takes place at the D&N Event Center, with at least 80 tables set up to accommodate the competition.
“This is a real big deal for North Platte,” said Larry Mora, tournament director. “It’s probably even bigger than the state shuffleboard tournament we did last month. We should have right around 1,100 pool players plus friends, guests and others. We’ve got it figured to about a $100,000 economic impact to North Platte.”
Players competed in singles tournaments Friday. Team competition heats up from 9 a.m. to about 5 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to about 2 p.m. Sunday. Champions will be crowned Sunday afternoon.
All the games are eight-ball and the cost for an eight-person team to enter the tournament is about $340.
“It costs a lot of money to bring the pool tables in, renting the building and other expenses,” Mora said. “We do it to raise money to donate back to the community. By the time the weekend is over we raise between $10,000 and $20,000.”
There are also vendors who offer pool cases, sticks, chalk holders or whatever a player might need.
Players from all over the state make the trek to the various sites that change every year.
Josh Hicks and his brother Jacob, both of Omaha, have been competing together for a few years.
“We’ve been involved in the Eagles tournament for about four or five years now going from city to city,” Jacob Hicks said. “We’ve been to Hastings, North Platte and Columbus and it’s a lot of fun.”
Tournament participants must belong to one of the Eagles Clubs in the state.
Mike Putnam of North Platte is playing in his sixth state tournament.
“I started on a Thursday league and then heard about the Tuesday league and went there,” Putnam said. “There’s some really good shooters in North Platte. If you can get in the top 20 in that Tuesday league, that’s an accomplishment.”
Putnam is also celebrating six years of sobriety.
“I really didn’t get into trouble, but I just wasn’t happy with life,” Putnam said. “A friend helped me get some things figured out. I still love pool. I can be around it and still have a blast. Life’s a lot better, a lot happier with my family.”