It was a busy week of curling in Red Deer.
The 71st annual Red Deer Farmers’ and Farmerettes’ Bonspiels took over the Pidherney Curling Centre last week for some great curling action.
“We had a lot of fun. It’s always a good event for the farmers and the town guys to get together,” said Ross Harder, one of the organizers of the bonspiel, which ran from Tuesday to Saturday last week.
This year’s triple elimination tournament featured 48 teams in the men’s bracket and 16 in the women’s. About 250 curlers took to the ice over the five days.
“It’s a full house,” Harder said.
“I think it may be one of the best ones yet. I think fun was had by all,” said Dan Belich, the chair of the bonspiel’s organizing committee.
Belich said the bonspiel has become an opportunity for Red Deer’s farming community to get together and have some fun.
“You know it’s not really about the curling down there. Overall I would say there’s some darn good curling and some darn poor curling that goes on down there but the social part of it is probably the biggest part of the event,” he said, adding that social aspect is one of the biggest draws of the tournament.
“Over the years it’s kind of turned into a traditional event. A lot of people, that’s the only time they see each other all year is at that event,” Belich said, adding there is also an evening meal every night of the event, as well as a windup banquet on Saturday night.
While the social aspect of the bonspiel takes centre stage for many, the curling was pretty competitive last week.
On the men’s side, Scott Cruickshank’s rink came away with the win in the A event while Fred Knight, Wilf Edgar, Larry Marshall, and Mike Sulzle won the B, C, D and E awards respectively.
In the Farmerettes’ Bonspiel, Patti Gardiner took home the A event crown with a 7-6 win over Margie Tyrkalo on Saturday morning while Lori Visscher, Dorothy Dixon and Laurie Duncan won the B, C, and D titles.
“We played a bunch of good, solid teams. We were pretty fortunate, actually, to get a couple of those wins but things seemed to work for us. That’s the way the Farmers’ Bonspiel goes. Sometimes you get the break, sometimes you don’t. This week we did,” Cruickshank said after Saturday’s A final game, during which his rink came away with a 9-5 win over Brent Burns.
“We played really good in the final. They had a couple of opportunities that would have changed the complexion of the game in a big way if they had made them but it’s just one of those games when things went our way.”
This is Cruickshank’s 10th year competing in the Red Deer Farmers’ Bonspiel and his team’s second time winning it. The first came two years ago.
“It feels just as good,” he said of this win when compared to his last one.
This year he was joined by his father Dave Cruickshank at second and his brother Kal Cruickshank at third and Roy McArthur of Georges Farm Centre as the crew’s city player.
The Farmers’ Bonspiel, Scott said, has become somewhat of a Cruickshank family affair over the years.
“My grandpa has played in it 30 times. My whole family has played in it since the beginning of the spiel so it feels really good. It feels like we’re doing my grandpa’s name justice by winning it.”
Harder added he was happy with how everything turned out over the week.
“This is our 71st bonspiel and I think everybody had a great time and we look forward to putting on the 72nd.”