Update: Due to the rainy weather, Lawn Projectile Extravaganza has been postponed until 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011. Practice begins at 2:30 p.m.

Lawns across the nation are being denied their grassy destiny.

Once a stomping ground for the kids, where gymnastics was practiced and little brothers were good-naturedly wrestled, the average lawn has become a highly preened expanse of grass that’s intended to be admired but no longer stood upon.

Homeowners groom the green into a grassy moat around the house — the well-seeded spread seeming to tell passersby, “Stay off my turf.”

But lawns are a social kind of sod.

They long to play stage to front-yard theatrics or act as home base during an evening game of Kick the Can. They want lawn chairs and volleyball nets, they want frolicking flip-flops and fetching family dogs.

Lawns are not just to be leered at. They want to be included.

In an effort to help lawns reclaim their rightful place beneath our feet, the folks at Portland Roots have created Lawn Projectile Extravaganza.

The tournament-style event happens from 5 to 8 tonight in Deering Oaks, and includes an array of classic lawn games such as Cornhole, Bocce, Kubb, Kanjam and lawn darts. Organizers have even come up with a new game called Rich Can Poor Can that apparently involves two cans and a bit of physics.

The event harkens back to the lawn-based diversions of our youth, where bean bags and horseshoes were tossed with equal enthusiasm, and where games using sharp objects were swiftly recalled. It’s what once happened in suburban neighborhoods everywhere, and Lawn Projectile Extravaganza aims to get people once again playing backyard games until the street lights come on.

But what of the lawnless?

“Here in Portland, most people don’t have a backyard,” said Bo Bigelow, co-founder of Portland Roots along with Jeff Russell. “But they do. It’s Deering Oaks. Deering Oaks is everyone’s backyard.”

And a little neighborly rivalry is a good reason to get people together to socialize, talk smack and generally throw things around. “We’re encouraging friendly to moderately unfriendly competitions,” joked Russell.

The tossing begins at 5 p.m. in the park near the tennis and volleyball courts. The first hour is slated for practice and strategizing — and learning any games you don’t already know.

“People should not be deterred by the fact that there are unknown games. We can teach you in about five minutes,” said Bigelow.

The official tournament kicks off promptly at 6 p.m., pitting teams of two to four people against each other in a battle of beanbags and lawn darts. Following each round, the highest-scoring team moves on. Eliminated teams can still hang out, watch the festivities or start up another side game.

At the end of it all, the team that triumphs above all others will walk away with a cash prize (the amount is based on the number of teams who pony up the $10 entry fee. More teams, more money). There will also be plenty of side contests and giveaways. Following the games, participants can say goodbye to the grass and head to Local 188 (685 Congress St., Portland) for the after party.

If the weather isn’t cooperative (i.e., is it storming outside your window right now?), Lawn Projectile Extravaganza will be postponed. Check facebook.com/portlandroots or twitter.com/portlandroots for game-day updates. To register, send an email to [email protected] or show up in Deering Oaks tonight before the 6 p.m. tournament start time.

The late-summer event marks a last hurrah for lawns across Maine before they settle in for a long slumber under dry leaves and snow. But they’ll nod off with the knowledge that lawns have not been forsaken.

The people have not forgotten the friend beneath their feet.

Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 791-6333 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: mainetoday