Curlers from near and far will be descending on Osoyoos this week as they prepare to compete in the Osoyoos Mixed Midsummer Bonspiel.
Participants from 40 teams will be showing up Wednesday to register, but the action runs from Thursday, Aug. 16 to Sunday, Aug. 19, said organizer Pat Wycherley.
The curling played by teams of mixed genders takes place at the Osoyoos International Curling Club.
This event, which often includes entire families, is intended to be fun rather than highly competitive.
“We advertise this as a fun event,” said Wycherley. “They only curl one game on Thursday and then one game on Friday. As you move forward, you’ll curl more games, but this is a fun event. This is come and party and rip up the town and bring your kids,” she joked.
Of the 40 teams, 10 have local skips, even if not all those team members are local, she said.
The remaining 30 teams all come from out of town, mainly from places around B.C. and Alberta, though a couple are from Spokane, Washington.
Calgary, Strathmore and Okotoks, Alberta usually send many participants, Wycherley said.
“When you think there are 30 teams (from out of town) times four people and what that is bringing to this town this week, it’s not too bad actually,” said Wycherley, referring to the boost to local businesses.
The Osoyoos Mixed Summer Bonspiel began in 1979 and in its earlier years, through the 1980s, it was a week-long event drawing close to 70 teams.
But these days people don’t want to spend a week of their holidays curling, so it was cut back to four days. And for a four-day event, 40 teams are much more manageable, Wycherley said.
“We can’t accommodate more than 40 teams in the four-day event,” she said. “We’ve looked at that and we can’t. We would have to add Wednesday night curling into the event.”
Among those making it a family event is Jim Cotter, the B.C. representative in the Grand Slam of Curling.
“He comes with his daughter, his sister comes to town, brother-in-law. They have a great time,” said Wycherley. “And Jim is very generous as he brings us his professional jerseys to auction off and stuff and he just comes to have fun and curl.”
Many families come, she said, and there are at least three to five teams made up of parents and two of their kids.
There’s no minimum age and anyone who can curl can play.
Wycherley noted that there are many volunteers, including some from out-of-town teams, that make the event possible. She said a group of North Vancouver teams looks after a pancake breakfast one of the mornings.