ESTEVAN - The organizing committee for the Scotties-Tankard provincial women’s and men’s curling championships are thrilled with the support for the event.
The Viterra Scotties Tournament of Hearts women’s provincials were held in Estevan from Jan. 25-29, and the SaskTel Tankard men’s event ran from Feb. 1-5. Twelve teams were entered in each.
Organizing committee chairman Devon Fornwald said the committee and volunteers were terrific. People were coming to them on the last day of Tankard to see if they could help out in any fashion. The organizing committee, who could be seen throughout the tournaments wearing their blue jackets, made his job easier because of the work they do.
“It’s run pretty smoothly. If there was a little hiccup, they were right there to give a hand,” said Fornwald.
Working with CurlSask also went smoothly, he said, and the officials were wonderful.
He also came away marvelling at the skill of the athletes who entered.
“Our curlers, both in the women’s and the men’s, are some of the best curlers in Canada, so in the Brier and Scotties [national events] they could be right up there near the top of both. So, we have a good chance of being in the playoffs at the Scotties and Brier, and possibly even winning one of them,” said Fornwald.
A total of 9,682 people attended between the 24 draws for the Scotties-Tankard, but that number doesn’t include the volunteers and officials present each day. Fornwald thought the event passes, at $125 each, were an inexpensive way to watch the games, as it worked out to just over $5 per draw.
They also had more than 819 students attend the Thursday and Friday morning draws.
“Those kids brought so much energy to the crowd. It was incredible,” said Fornwald. The kids that were in the front row, the curlers were coming by and high-fiving them. Those curlers that did that, they instantly had all those young people in the front there. They were all instant fans of that curling team. They cheered even harder for them.”
He wishes they could have brought in 200 or 300 kids for every draw.
Entertainment was held at The Patch, with food, drinks, games, musical Bingo known as Singo on Thursday nights, and cabarets on Friday and Saturday nights.
“The crowds were really good. Last night [Feb. 4] was the biggest crowd we had. I would suspect we had 400 or possibly even 500 people come in last night and have a good time.”
The cabarets and the 50-50 ticket sales were fundraisers for the curling club and its programs.
Fornwald hopes the provincial tournament can have a big impact on curling in the community. It could lead to another event through CurlCanada; Estevan hosted the Home Hardware Canada Cup of Curling in December 2018.
“Everybody across the country in the curling organization, they see what we’re doing,” said Fornwald.
Volunteers have asked what the next big event will be and if Estevan can do something bigger. It was encouraging to see these hard-working people already looking forward to the next event, he said.
“After a big event like this, two weeks in a row, our volunteers are still all hyped up about the curling. The fans, a lot of the fans are asking us when’s the next big event.”
CurlCanada events, the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling and even the World Curling Federation would be options.
“It’s exciting to get back into the swing of having these full-blown events, and getting the people out here, and as we see from the crowds, the fans and the curlers … the coaches and the families say ‘This is probably one of the best events, the best facilities we’ve ever curled in,’ and some of them have curled across Canada. They say we need to put another event on,” said Fornwald.
Fornwald expects the Scotties-Tankard to have a considerable economic spinoff thanks to all of the people that came to the community.The hotels, bars and restaurants all benefitted.
The businesses around the city showed lots of support through sponsorships.
Shortly after the closing ceremonies for the Tankard, the process of converting Affinity Place back to a hockey arena began. Many people started removing the equipment that had been installed on the ice such as carpet, tables, chairs, scoreboards, clocks and more.
Then the City of Estevan crews moved in to convert the ice surface back to hockey. Fornwald believes it was to be finished by Wednesday afternoon.
“Thanks to the city for providing us with this great venue and all the support they give us. We couldn’t do it without them.”
He said it was sad to see when Sunday night arrived and the event was over after all of the planning to make it a success.