Card-playing tourists provide a boost
Last weekend, about 164 bridge players converged at the Waynesville Recreation Center for three days of serious card playing.
The occasion was the Mountaineer Fall Classic, a sanctioned bridge tournament that has been running for 26 years.
Visitors came from as far away as Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and even Florida, said organizer Mary Feichter, who heads up the Smoky Mountain Duplicate Club in Waynesville.
Until recently, the convention was held at the Waynesville armory, but moved to the recreation center gymnasium two years ago.
"People love this facility and love coming to this tournament," Feichter said, noting part of the appeal is the home-made lunches and snacks provided by club members.
At a bridge tournament, players vie for master points, spending up to two sessions daily on Friday and Saturday and a single session on Sunday.
"Master points, that's what they're here for," said Feichter. "Bridge players are addicts. They will travel anywhere to play bridge and get points."
In addition to the rent paid for the gym, Feichter said many of the players spent the weekend in Haywood County, filling up motels, enjoying dining opportunities, and perhaps even shopping a bit after the afternoon session.