The ladies are coming!
Last February, eyes from all across the country were on Lacombe as the City hosted a successful Men’s Provincial Curling Championship, the Boston Pizza Cup.
From Jan. 21-25th, Lacombe hopes to do the same thing again as it hosts the Jiffy Lube Alberta Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
Don Gullekson, chair of the 2015 Alberta Scotties Host Committee, said that excitement for the event is starting to build in the community.
“I think the feeling around town right now is starting to build up towards it.”
No names for the competition have been finalized yet, but Gullekson said Valerie (Val) Sweeting is expected to be present to defend her title. More information will become available as the competition draws nearer.
Gullekson said the Scotties Tournament of Hearts will follow much the same format as the Boston Pizza Cup did. He added the committee did learn a few things from last February’s event that should benefit the ladies provincial championships.
“There’s a number of changes we are making to improve it,” said Gullekson.
Most of the changes will not affect much from an outside perspective but will improve and streamline service in some areas.
Gullekson said there were a few areas where there were some scrambles behind the scenes, but the volunteers did a good job of not showing it.
“I have to give credit to our volunteers that none of the people really knew what was going on and what hassles there were,” said Gullekson. “But it will be a lot better this year.”
Gullekson added the BP Cup had a rare problem on the organizational end – too many volunteers in some areas.
Most of the volunteers that participated during the BP Cup are returning for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, said Gullekson. He said that most sponsors are returning as well, with a few lost and a few gained as well to balance things out.
As with the BP Cup, Lacombe’s hosting of the Alberta Ladies Provincial Championships will feature great entertainment from local performers throughout the week.
Gullekson said organizers have even expanded the entertainment to include some more local talent.
At for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, three of Lacombe’s local dance studios will perform during the opening ceremonies on Jan. 21st. Afterwards, they will be performing a more recital-style performance in the Highwood Lounge.
“It’s a nice opportunity for us to get a bunch of people that wouldn’t normally go to the event,” said Gullekson.
For the rest of the week, entertainment will follow much the same format as the BP Cup. Thursday night, Jan. 22nd will once again be ladies night and Friday and Saturday night will feature great entertainment as well.
The kids’ day activities, which were very well attended and successful at the BP Cup have also been extended for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, said Gullekson. At the men’s championships last February, schoolchildren from Lacombe were invited to attend some of the matches and also participated in the Rocks and Rings program.
“That worked out very well,” said Gullekson. “And the kids seemed to enjoy it and it’s a way of showcasing the sport.”
After a request from Blackfalds Mayor Melodie Stol, these activities have been opened up to Blackfalds schoolchildren as well and there will actually be two kids’ days instead of one, said Gullekson. He added about 500 children should take part in the kids’ days.
“Anytime we can expose kids to the sport it is certainly something that we are wanting to do,” said Gullekson.
He added seating has changed a bit for the ladies provincial championships as well. He said there will be VIP seating on one side of the arena and general seating on the other to make things a bit easier on ticket sellers.
Ticket sales have changed a bit too. Gullekson said tickets will not be available for purchase online for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts as that service was not well utilized for the BP Cup.
Again, as with the BP Cup, the main ice surface in the Lacombe Arena will be converted into competition curling ice about a week before the tournament begins.
Gullekson said he knows ice time is a hot commodity in Lacombe right now and he appreciates the various user groups cooperating with the committee and giving up the ice surface for a few days.
“Their cooperation has been tremendous,” said Gullekson.
Tickets are on sale at the Lacombe Curling Rink. VIP tickets must be purchased during office hours. General seating tickets can be purchased anytime the lounge is open.