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Second annual stone-skipping event scheduled

By Tammy Keith

This article was published August 31, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.

John Baker, a Little Rock attorney, holds a stone that he thinks is good for skipping. Baker, who grew up skipping rocks and enjoys the activity with his children, as well as his brother, created the Great Southern Stone-Skipping Championship. The second-annual event is scheduled for Saturday on Greers Ferry Lake in Fairfield Bay. Proceeds will go to three food pantries.

— The first Great Southern Stone-Skipping Championships in Fairfield Bay rocked last year, so organizers decided to throw it again.

John Baker, an attorney in Little Rock, founded the event — a first in Arkansas. All proceeds were divided among three food pantries and will be again.

“We raised $3,300 for a first year. We figure that’s worth a couple of hours of fun in the morning, so we’re going to do it again,” Baker said. “People liked it, so we’re excited.”

The second annual event is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Saturday in the main fishing cove of the Fairfield Bay Marina on Greers Ferry Lake. Free to spectators, the cost is $10 to compete. Cash prizes between $50 and $250 will be awarded to the top-three finishers in the adult flight, 13 and older, and the children’s flight, 12 and younger. He said judges will be military veterans.

Judges will not be in a boat on the water, however. Baker said lessons were learned after the inaugural event.

“We’re going to put the judges on the bank,” he said. “The mayor of Fairfield Bay enrolled [to compete] …. His rock hit the boat in which all the judges were sitting. Everybody laughed at the time, but I was thinking that was not a smart thing we did,” Baker said.

Last year, there were 32 competitors. “It was more than I hoped,” Baker said.

Those competitors included world-record holder Kurt “Mountain Man” Steiner of Pennsylvania, who won with 33 skips.

Baker said this year Russ Byars of Pennsylvania, who was the world-record holder prior to Steiner, will compete. Baker said Byars skipped a stone 51 times in 2007. He said Byars, who has cancer, has friends in Arkansas from his military career.

Baker said competitors may bring their own stones or pick up one from the shore. Participants get three attempts. The top five from each flight participate in a skip-off and get five chances.

Baker said coffee will be available, and people are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and coolers. Event T-shirts will be available for purchase.

All proceeds will be divided among food banks in Choctaw, Clinton and Greers Ferry.

“It’s a communitywide deal,” Baker said.

Claude Ruiz, who started Choctaw Food Bank Inc. with his wife, Karen, said he can use every dollar he can get.

“We’re still feeding over 400 families a week — 426 last week — we’re continually increasing; we get 15-20 new families each week. It’s harder and harder to get the food you really need, so everything helps,” Claude said.

The day will begin with a welcome, Pledge of Allegiance and warm-ups. The open-competitive skipping will begin at 9:30 a.m., and the skip-off will be about 10:15 a.m. The recognition of event sponsors and presentation of awards will be at approximately 10:45 a.m.

Baker got the idea for the competition because he grew up skipping rocks, and he taught his children to skip rocks. When he and his brother, Troy Baker of Little Rock, were skipping stones one day, they started wondering who had the world record. That’s when they learned about Steiner.

Troy Baker, also an attorney, formed the nonprofit organization, Great Southern Stone-Skipping Championships Inc. and recruited two friends to join him on the board of directors.

John Baker said his friend and former Catholic High School classmate Alex Thayer of Little Rock is one of those.

“I didn’t participate; I’m going to be doing it this year,” Thayer said. “We just got it all set up. I didn’t actually throw any rocks, but I regretted it.” Thayer said his 8 year-old son, Grant, has been practicing and is excited about the event, and his 12-year-old daughter, Riley, plans to compete.

For more information, contact Baker,, (501) 688-8850, or Thayer,, (501) 350-7702, or go to the Facebook page, Great Southern Stone Skipping Championships.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or


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