Haliburton’s Skyline Bonspiel once again attracted teams from across the province to compete for its 60th year of existence.
Twenty-four teams descended on the Haliburton Curling Club to take part in the annual event, vying for trophies and $2,000 in prize money Jan. 18-20.
Former Skyline Bonspiel chairperson Wayne Hussey said it is the opportunity for camaraderie that keeps teams coming back.
“It’s a chance every year to see the buddies you met the last year before,” Hussey said. “One of the big advantages is these people come up, they love Haliburton, they all of a sudden want to move here.”
Jim Parrott has participated in the tournament for 15 years as part of a team from the Oshawa area.
“It’s a good, busy weekend, that’s why we come every year,” he said. “It’s great camaraderie and we have a good time. We spend time at our cottage playing guitar, singing and just general good, old boys’ things.”
However, although the event features parties, the curling field is plenty competitive, long-time Haliburton club curler David Bishop said.
“Anybody who’s competitive in their own town and league can come up here and know they can be competitive,” Bishop said. “It’s not easy to win.”
The years have seen the event change. What was once a 32-team tournament – as it was during its 50th anniversary – has shrunk to 24 teams in recent years.
“Times change,” Hussey said. “I think of the older days, you stayed up till one or two in the morning. Now, if you’re not in bed by 10 or 11, there’s something wrong.”
Haliburton Curling Club president Dave Moss said the demographics of curling have shifted and running the event with more teams became difficult logistically.
“The curling demographic is an aging demographic,” Moss said, noting the club’s average age is 67. “People don’t want to curl at night, they don’t want to curl at midnight and society’s changed to the point.”
A Haliburton Curling Club team emerged victorious. Owen Duhaime, Dustyn Debruin-McReady, Tyler Warham and Russ Duhaime earned bragging rights.
Moss said the Skyline Bonspiel has garnered a strong word-of-mouth reputation and its many returning teams are dedicated to it.
“Hopefully, it gets easier and easier for us,” Moss said. “We believe if the curlers get good value for their money then they’re happy and they’re going to come back and that’s our philosophy.”
“It’s got a long, long life to go yet,” he added.