January 4, 2019

In Wallingford, axe-throwing is a 'thing'

Hatchet job: Throwing axes at Blue Ox in Wallingford.
Blue Ox principals Slivinski and Ferraro.

It all started with an idea, when co-owner Gerald Ferraro was away on a visit to his childhood friend's bachelor party in Minnesota. Experiencing axe-throwing for the first time made him think that perhaps his hometown of Wallingford might be a great market for the trending indoor recreation.

In fact, it was so much fun that he and partner Maggie Slivinski couldn't wait to bring the activity back to Connecticut and provide the opportunity for others to have a great experience.

Since it opened in August at 21 North Plains Industrial Road, Blue Ox Axe Throwing has become quite the Wallingford hotspot.

"Wallingford is our hometown," said Slivinski. "With a central location in the state and recent expansion the town has seen, we couldn't wait to be a part of our growing community."

In six months, Blue Ox Axe Throwing has become Connecticut's highest rated axe-throwing venue, according to Connecticut Magazine (which monitors such things). It is also apparently the second facility of its kind in the state; the first to open was Pine & Iron Axe Throwing in Hartford, which debuted in June.

Originally, axe throwing was popular mainly in Canada (you know — lumberjacks and all), but has recently crept south into the United States as well. Last December, Kick Axe in Brooklyn opened its doors, becoming New York City's first axe-throwing range, and Agawam Axe House opened earlier this year in Massachusetts.

"We pride ourselves on offering a new type of recreation to adults in our area," said Slivinski.

Blue Ox allows throwers to bring in their own food and alcohol (!), creating a welcoming and friendly experience. The venue can also accommodate a broad range of party sizes.

Each lane offers two targets, allowing competing participants to throw simultaneously. If the parties exceed 15 people, the group will occupy adjacent lanes to ensure plenty of tosses for each participant. All parties are private and by reservation, meaning the groups will be alone in the lanes.

Before Blue Axe opened, Ferraro and Slivinski anticipated that the demographic for their clientele would be mainly young adults in their 20s and 30s. So far that has been largely held to form. Blue Axe has also hosted a large number of corporate team-building and holiday parties booked by companies from the Hartford and New Haven regions.

Visiting Blue Ox is simple: You book a reservation ahead of time and show up with closed-toe shoes. Axe "masters" walk participants through safety protocols and technique. There is also a booklet of games for participants to use during their visits.

Blue Ox is open Thursday through Sunday. "Friday and Saturday nights are definitely our busiest nights of the week," said Slivinski. "We normally have a full schedule for both."

To learn more about Blue Ox, visit its Facebook page.

Contact Nicole Zappone at news@newhavenbiz.com

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