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Why play regular Monopoly when you and your family can play a more locally customized game of Upshur County Opoly? The game is available at Buckhannon Walmart and includes properties named for local businesses, places, events and parks. / Photo by Beth Christian Broschart

Why not play Upshur County Opoly with your friends and family this holiday season?

BUCKHANNON – We have made it to the holiday season and most folks have put up their outdoor decorations, put up their Christmas Tree, completed baking their Christmas cookies and are busy wrapping presents to put under the tree.

Now is the time that families should spend time together and what better way to do that than playing board games with one another.

One wildly popular board game when we were all growing up was Monopoly. According to www.britannica.com, the game of Monopoly is the best-selling privately patented board game in history. The site says Monopoly gained popularity in the United States during the Great Depression when an unemployed heating engineer named Charles B. Darrow sold the concept of the game Monopoly to Parker Brothers in 1935.

Originally, Monopoly sets sold in America had properties that were named for the streets in Atlantic City, New Jersey and the game was designed for two to eight players with the goal of remaining financially solvent while forcing opponents into bankruptcy by buying and developing pieces of property.

A few years ago, Late for The Sky Production Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, debuted Upshur County Opoly, which it calls a fun game celebrating Upshur County, West Virginia. The game is available in Buckhannon at Walmart and seems to fly off the shelves, according to Buckhannon Walmart employees.

My Buckhannon spoke with Michael Schulte, marketing manager with Late for The Sky Production Company, to find out more about the game – when they began, what interested the company in producing the game and where the information for Upshur County Opoly came from. Schulte said Late for the Sky Production Company started in 1984 by making collegiate-style Opoly games- particularly by making a game for the University of Miami of Ohio.

“Then we branched out to include the Ohio State University game and a lot of the Big 10 Schools,” Schultz said. “About 10 years into it, we started doing city games for some of the larger cities and about five years ago, we started making the Opoly style games for smaller cities in tandem with Walmart across the United States.”

Schultz said they quickly learned that the smaller city games caused more demand than the games for the larger cities.

“We found most people are very proud of where they come from and a game that we have played most of our lifetimes which is centered around your hometown is a lot more appealing than one centered around Atlantic City,” Schultz said. “That is basically the point – we are releasing these games that are more socialized to your own town.”

He said that they do not necessarily think they will make an Opoly style game for each and every county in West Virginia.

“We gauge it by where we are seeing the most interest through Walmart,” Schultz said. “They tell us which markets they want to go after. They are not the driving force but they tell us where they feel the game will work the best. We get a little direction from them but we also conduct our own research to make sure we are making the games as authentic as possible. Because of people being a little bit more cautious because of the COVID pandemic, this is an ideal item.”

Schultz shared how Late for The Sky Production Company learns what places and events to use in their Opoly style games such as Upshur County Opoly.

“We go onto the local county websites and city websites and find the businesses through the local Chambers of Commerce,” Schultz shared. “We also look at the local parks and what some of the local events are going on. It is very editorial in nature when we are picking out the spaces to include on the games.”

Schultz said Late for The Sky Production Company makes all of their products here in the United States and has for the last 35 years.

“In this day and age, this is a rare accomplishment and we are very proud of that fact,” he said.

Upshur County Opoly is flanked with the famous dome of the Upshur County Courthouse and includes local properties including as Festival Fridays, WV’s Largest Yard Sale, the West Virginia Wildlife Center, the Buckhannon Community Theatre, Buckhannon-Upshur High School, West Virginia Wesleyan College, the James W. Curry Park, Fidler Mill, the Buckhannon Opera House, the West Virginia Strawberry Festival, the River Walk Trail, Stonecoal Lake, Audra State Park, the Pringle Tree Park, the Buckhannon River, the Upshur County Courthouse, Jawbone Park and the Recreational Park.

Local businesses included as properties in Upshur County Opoly include the Donut Shop, Artistry on Main, Fish Hawk Acres, T&L Hotdogs, Gaines Diner, Sam’s Pizza, Skateland and Woody’s Bowling Center.

Upshur County Opoly is available locally at Buckhannon Walmart and additional information about Late for The Sky is available on Facebook or online at www.lateforthesky.com.

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