Dartoids World

Column #662 IT’S ABOUT TIME AGAIN for Rocky’s Annual Roadside Outdoor Darts Tournament!

Saturday, April 20, 2024
Column 662
IT’S ABOUT TIME AGAIN for Rocky’s Annual Roadside Outdoor Darts Tournament!

There’s Marciano, Graziano, Balboa, and the 41st Vice President of the United States…

You’ve got those big mountains.

And don’t forget the squirrel!

Then there’s “Rocky” the darts dude from Parkhill, Ontario, Canada.

Surely this guy – Ron Wilcox – has more brains than your average boxer or a mountain range.  Or even Nelson Rockefeller who at 70 years of age had a heart attack and died while in the middle of an adulterous act with his 25-year-old mistress, Megan Marshack.

“How did Rockefeller die?” goes the old joke.  “Low blood pressure: 70 over 25.”

Nope, except for a slight resemblance to the Rocky the Flying Squirrel from the old Bullwinkle Show Ron Wilcox doesn’t have much in common with any of his namesakes.  But if promoting darts was the measure, a Wilcox vs. Marciano bout would require a rewrite of the history books and Marciano’s record to 49-1.

Yep, when it comes to our sport Canada’s got a lot to beat its chest about.  Of course there is John Part, three times world champion.  You’ve got Bob Sinnaeve.  Gary Mawson.  Chris White.  David Fatum.  And all the guys who recently competed in the Championship Darts Corporation’s (CDC) Cross Border Challenge.

Oh, I can hear some of you now.  Don’t waste your time or mine arguing about nationalities.  Mawson, White and Fatum all hail originally from Canada.  So what?  Florida, California and Arizona are lucky to have ‘em.

Along with these names and others like Patricia Farrell, Gayle King, Kim Whaley, Trish Grzesik and so many more – Ron Wilcox merits recognition.

And don’t forget Rani Gill.  She’s the best ever.  She once punched Eric Bristow or threw a chair at him, depending on who’s telling the story.

Just like so many of our times who’ve had an idea and made millions, Wilcox had an idea.  However, unlike, say, Louise Poirier (a great Canadian) who made a bundle off probably the most spectacular idea since the wheel, Wilcox has failed (at least personally) on the money- making aspect of the equation (although he has generated a fair bit for charity).

Actually, Wilcox’s “failure” is by design.  While some are in the game to make a buck (I won’t mention any names, like Charles Peterson – Google his name and Red Eye Rhino if you’ve ever wondered why he seemed to disappear!) Wilcox’s motivation is to enjoy the sport, help the sport, encourage new blood to pick up a handful, promote sportsmanship and give back to his community.  Wilcox is honest.

Back in 2007, Wilcox decided to create the largest outdoor dart tournament in Canada, and eventually the world.

Poirier invented the push-up bra.

So, who’s your hero?

Rocky’s Annual Roadside Outdoor Darts Tournament is patterned after Chuck and Stick’s Chicken COOP Open held each spring in Noel, Missouri.  In fact, when Wilcox dreamed up his idea, he spoke at length with Mike Edwards who with others is now the main organizer of the COOP event, now in something like its 43rd year.  The tournament – a non-stop, 24-hour-a-day, blind draw affair – attracts 1,000+ each year.  It grew from its beginnings, literally in a chicken coop, when just a handful of couples attended.  For the past decade, the COOP has been carved in stone on my tournament schedule.  This is primarily because everyone is so drunk that I have half a chance.  (This year’s tournament is June 5-9 – check out Chicken Coop Open Dart Tournament on Facebook.)

About few years back, I traveled to Canada to check out Wilcox’s creation.  I flew into Toronto’s Pearson International airport and rented a car for the “couple hour drive” (according to Wilcox) to the tournament site at the Corbett Community Center in (go on, guess) Corbett, Ontario – halfway between Grand Bend and Parkhill, which are both in the middle of nowhere.  The drive took five hours because Wilcox’s directions sucked.  But I saw a lot of wheat fields and cows.

Wilcox’s debut tournament drew 12 people and ran just one day.  There was no tent or lights, hence it ended in the dark.  Not a good start.  But Wilcox prevailed.  He kept building, marketing, pushing and prodding.  He called radio stations and got them out to cover the tournament as it grew.  He contacted newspapers.  He pounded on doors and emailed loads of potential sponsors.  Some might say he lives on Facebook, promoting, promoting and promoting.

It worked – or it’s working.  The word is out.

The tournament now attracts upwards of 400 attendees.  Players travel from as far as Saskatchewan, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, New York (and Florida, in my case).  Some players from Ohio and Michigan have become regulars.

There’s a DJ, great eats and a terrific bar.  There have been live bands. Wilcox is always talking about a “special attendee.”  I am hoping this year it will be a Hooter’s girl but figure it’s more likely going to be John Part.  Yes, there’s a difference.

Sponsors are stepping up to the plate, more and more every year – so much so that the tournament has been proud to write thousands of dollars in checks to local charities.  This is a BIG part of the whole thing.  It’s only partly about darts.  The event is a bona fide family affair (run by Wilcox, his wife Lisa and children, Sharla and Steven), supported by local friends and businesses and which puts the local community first, second and third.

(NOTE: I am assuming that these days “thousands of dollars” is a lot in Canadian currency.  However, I am reminded of a poker game I attended in Canada while I was in college.  I won $50.  The next morning at Tim Horton’s my winnings were barely enough for a jelly donut.  But it was a damn good donut.)

All the businesses that support the tournament deserve thanks and respect.

When I first attended (I hope to make it back this year) I partnered with Steven Wilcox.  We met when he was just 7 years old.  I was in Hamilton, Ontario competing in the CANUSA Games for the Flint, Michigan, darts team.  Steven wanted to play me a few games, so his family made the few-hour drive to meet me.  And let me tell you, I whooped the little bastard.  Stomped him good.  Made him cry like a girl.

Steven is now 25 years old, married and soon to have a baby.  He’s a hell of a kid and his parents should be immensely proud.  But he’s not as pretty as his mom or sister.  Or John Part.

For several years, Steven was the #1 ranked youth player in North America and one of the top 10-15 in the world.  He was invited to play in Shanghai and competed in several tournaments in the UK.  He’s good.  For reasons unknown he has partnered with me now on 3-4 occasions…

I don’t think we’ve ever made it past the first round.  I seem to have developed a short-arming problem worse than any of the Wizard of Oz munchkins. And so it was again at Rocky’s Annual Roadside Outdoor Darts Tournament.  We got smoked just like a dead Canadian salmon.

I got new directions for the return trip to Toronto and made it in just a little over two hours and saw a lot more cows and wheat.

This tournament is a good time – run by good people for a good cause.

So, when you see one of Wilcox’s promos for the 2024 tournament (he’s already posted a handful on Facebook) you are encouraged to add it to your schedule.  It’s June 28-30 – stay current by following the posts on Facebook at Rocky’s Annual Roadside Outdoor Dart Tournament.

In the event any further enticement is needed, no doubt Steven Wilcox is looking for a partner who can hit more than the one and five (and sometimes even the twelve and eighteen!).  If he takes you aboard you are almost certain to return home with some extra cash.

Great job, Rocky Wilcox!

The COOP better watch out!

From the Field,



  • Dartoid

    "Dartoid" is the pseudonym of Paul Seigel, a prominent chronicler of darts for over 35 years. His columns are celebrated for their wit and insight, often detailing his quest for a game in exotic locales worldwide. His writing offers vibrant commentary on the competitive darts landscape, including players, organizations, tournaments and the sport's unique culture. Dartoid's articles are highly regarded among darts enthusiasts, solidifying his role as a pivotal figure in promoting and documenting darts as both a recreational pastime and professional sport.