RIPON’S ROB WEBSTER, right, checks his hand as he decides how to play.            		    	               Ian Stepleton photo
RIPON’S ROB WEBSTER, right, checks his hand as he decides how to play. Ian Stepleton photo

     IT’S PROBABLY THE BIG-gest event to happen in Ripon every year that you don’t know about.

     Every winter, it draws more than 100 people into town from across the state, and sometimes even further away.    

     ... It’s the Wisconsin-Upper Michigan Bridge Association Bridge Sectional, held annually at Royal Ridges for 12 years running.
And it’s got quite the following.

     To a certain extent, that came as a surprise to me. As a kid, I always thought of bridge as “my grandmother’s card game.”

     But as I saw first-hand last week Friday, bridge is alive and well, especially here in Ripon during the dead of winter.

     “We have 31 tables, which is 124 people [this year],” said Tony Ames of Minneapolis, the tournament director assigned to the Ripon sectional by the American Contract Bridge League.

    ... that’s a tidy windfall of economic support for Ripon from these fine card-playing individuals. Of the 124 on hand, virtually all are from out of town.
And, as bridge tournaments go, that’s actually a pretty good size competition.
 
     ... As he noted, it’s “pretty unusual” for a town like Ripon to host a sectional this size.

     ... Of course, Ripon offers a secret weapon: a tasty spread.

    “The food on Sunday is fantastic,” Ames said of a prime rib buffet, adding that participants enjoy the bottomless soda on tap, too.
Nancy Quick of Wisconsin Rapids agreed.

     “It’s a great tournament,” she said. “The good food, the good people. Just a lot to do here, and it’s the end of January, and it’s good to be in here playing bridge.”

     To read the entire column, see the Feb. 2, 2017 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.