BY ZACHARY CORMIER
It was a busy week of curling at the Lacombe Curling Club as the 73rd annual Lacombe Farmers’ and Farmerettes’ Bonspiel hit the ice last week.
More than 60 curling teams converged on the City from last Monday through Saturday night to participate in the bonspiel,which has been a time-honored tradition in the community for more than 70 years.
“It’s been around for a long time. It’s getting tougher to get teams every year but they seem to keep on coming. I make a lot of phone calls and we’ve been right around the 48 to 50 men’s teams for the last few years. We used to get as many as 64 but we’re still hanging in there,” said Grant Kamps, a member of the Organizing Committee for the event.
In addition to the 50 men’s teams, the bonspiel also hosts around 12 ladies’ teams each year for the Farmerettes’ portion.
One of the reasons the spiel is so popular for teams in Central Alberta is the unique format, which pairs teams of three area farmers with a randomly-drawn businessperson who has sponsored the event.
Kamps said that the format allows the farmers to meet and socialize with some of the people they do business with all year round.
“It’s just a time to visit and talk with the people we do business with as farmers,” he explained.
The addition of a random draw also adds another level of fun to the tournament because you never know who you’re going to end up with as the fourth member of the team.
“Sometimes you get a person that you know and that you do business with and sometimes you get a person that you don’t do business with and they’re there to try to gain your business, so they like that too. It’s just a really good social event.”
Kamps also noted that the support from the local business community has been huge for the spiel, which is one of the largest fundraisers of the year for the Lacombe Curling Club.
“There’s a huge support from the local community. Pretty much every business in Lacombe is part of this bonspiel and that’s the reason it has been going on for 73 years,” he said, adding that the organizing committee would like to thank all thesponsors who participated in making this year’s Farmers’ and Farmerettes’ Bonspiel a success.
“I’ve been on the committee for probably 25 years, I’m thinking, and it’s not a hard job anymore going out and getting the sponsorships because we make up a package that explains it and when you drop that off at the businesses they’re just, ‘Yep,yep, we wouldn’t miss it’.”
Kamps, who was also the skip of the team that won the ‘D’ final, said there’s a lot to like about the spiel both on and off theice.
“It went really well. There’s lunches up there on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and then there’s a full buffet supper Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday and a full banquet and dance at the Memorial Centre on Saturday and it all went really well,” he said.
Kamps’ rink started the week out well with wins in each of their first two games before being dropped into the ‘D’ bracket of the triple-elimination tournament with a loss in their third game.
They bounced back quickly, though, and won their next four games in a row to claim the ‘D’ title.
“We got to curl once every day and twice on Saturday, so we got our exercise in anyways,” he laughed.
While Kamps was the only Lacombe skip to win a division on the men’s side, Lana Braun’s local rink took home the title on the women’s side.
Meanwhile, Regan Fuhrhop’s team out of the Wetaskiwin area won the ‘A’ event, defeating Lacombe’s Kevin Broderson in the final.
Don Olson of Eckville took home the ‘B’ division title while Norm Rieu from the Bentley area won the ‘C’ event crown.
As an organizer, Kamps said the spiel couldn’t have panned out better.
“For me the best part was when everything fell together and we started curling on Monday,” he laughed, noting that after a hectic month of organizing and doing prep work, it was good to see everything come together in terms of sponsorship and scheduling.
“The committee works well and the committee members have been together for a number of years. Everything runs really smooth and we only have a couple of meetings a year to make sure that everyone knows what they’re doing and everything falls into place.”
He also noted that the committee got really good feedback from the curlers who participated in the spiel this year.
“Especially from the few new teams that we had in there this year. We had lots of compliments on the event and how well it was run and how much you get fed for the week. It’s just a really good ‘spiel.”