ESTEVAN - The Estevan Oiflield Technical Society (OTS) is looking forward to having a healthy turnout for its annual bonspiel, scheduled to happen this Friday and Saturday.
Sam Bakala, who is the chairperson for the bonspiel committee, said they had 29 teams registered as of Monday morning, and they hoped to get to the maximum of 32. The deadline to register was March 22, and they typically get an influx of teams right before the last chance to sign up.
As for sponsorships, local businesses have stepped up with their support. Some have supported the OTS in the past, while others are new.
People are eager to be part of the bonspiel after it was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That’s probably driving as much interest as anything, as people were not able to do it,” said Bakala. “We’ve actually tried a couple of times over the past couple of years to plan it and make it a go, but with the restrictions and stuff, it wasn’t able to go.”
Many people are excited and eager to get out to events and see others again, he said.
“I was quite surprised at the uptake of entrants and the amount of support we got off the bat,” said Bakala.
The bonspiel is expected to begin at 10 a.m. on Friday. Games will be played throughout the day until a break for supper upstairs at the curling rink. There will be more games after supper.
The curling will continue throughout the day on Saturday. They hope the final can begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday night.
Games will be six ends, with an extra end in the event of a tie.
“We’re trying to ensure that the games can be completed within the two-hour allotment that we have, and that there’s no backing up on the draw to get it through,” said Bakala.
The bonspiel remains a vital event for the OTS, and it has been going for more than six decades.
“The event has been profitable, the last time we had it a few years ago. It does contribute to the OTS’s scholarship fund,” said Bakala.
Curlers will be coming from outside of Estevan for the bonspiel.
“That’s one of the things that we had seen drop off in recent years, was the out of town people putting in teams. We’re seeing some from the surrounding areas that are coming in … from southeast Sask., but we’re also seeing head offices and Calgary-based businesses putting in teams, and they’re gathering guys up from the local businesses here,” he said.
Bakala said he looks forward to being on the ice, talking with people, networking and doing his part to make sure everyone has a good time.
“I’m not a good enough curler to consider myself competitive by any means, but I just hope everybody, regardless of their skill level, goes out and has a good time.”
The OTS traditionally held just the curling bonspiel and a golf tournament for its events, but it has been adding more functions. The second annual trap shoot will be held at the Estevan Wildlife Federation’s range south of Estevan in May, and the first-ever mixed competition will happen at the Hideout Golf Course at Hidden Valley in July.
“We’re hoping that they’re all profitable and we can keep up the scholarships,” said Bakala.