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Made Right Here: Quoit Factory

By Amy Unger, Reporter, AUnger@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 29 2012 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 31 2012 09:35:05 AM CST

You might not know how to pronounce it and forget about spelling it but chances are you've seen quoits in action.

PLAINFIELD TWP., Pa. -

You might not know how to pronounce it and forget about spelling it but chances are you've seen quoits in action.

The backyard game comes in a lot of different forms and the slate variety is made right here in the Lehigh Valley.

It's the "plop" heard 'round the neighborhood when backyard barbecues are in full swing.

"Primarily your biggest games in the country are horseshoes, croquet, cornhole," said Nicholas Kennedy, owner of the The Quoit Factory.

But don't count out quoits.

The ring-toss game has been around for centuries in one form or another.

The playing fields vary.

So do the materials used to make the boards and pegs.

But quoit connoisseurs around here know what they like.

"Slate is very unique to the Lehigh Valley region- Slate Belt region," said Kennedy.

Kennedy is one of those connoisseurs. He's the owner of The Quoit Factory in Plainfield Township, Northampton County and is billed as the largest manufacturer of quoits in the United States.

"Been a one-man operation for seven and a half years now," he said.

He's your guy for everything you need to play the game.

"I enjoy making something by hand, that people come together and play a game," said Kennedy.

And he has a guy, too, several guys, actually, who help him make those slate quoit boards a reality.

Before each piece of slate is shaped into a perfect 24-inch square it's pulled out of a slate bed nearly six miles deep in Slatington, Lehigh County.

"We use the crane, we use the excavator, we use whatever we have that's practical," said Peter Papay, the president of Penn Big Bed Slate Company.

The Penn Big Bed Slate Company handles the heavy lifting.

"We pick up stones anything from couple hundred pound pieces to 12 ton stones," Papay said. "Saw operators will determine what kind of product we're going to make out of it."

The stone is then cut, split and shaped into pieces for windowsills, roofs, floor tiles and yes, quoit boards.

Kennedy takes care of the rest in his shop.

He does sell plastic quoit boards that are 40 pounds lighter than the slate variety.

"They do play like slate," said Kennedy. "The main difference of the two, slate has a different sound, than the plastic."

And that just won't do for a purist.

"A lot of the local people in Pennsylvania, they want slate because it's tradition. And it's authentic," he said.