BUCHANS, NL – The 26th annual Save Our Ice Plant (SOP) Curling Bonspiel is just over a month away and plans for this year’s event are falling into place.
The SOP started in 1992 when some residents started raising money to help the Town of Buchans keep the stadium and curling club going.
The event continues to support those facilities, as well as other recreational facilities in town.
The ice plant at the T. A. Soper Memorial Stadium has required thousands of dollars worth of repairs throughout those years. Because of support from the committee and the Town of Buchans combined, repairs to the curling club have also been possible.
In January 2008 for example, the SOP Committee spent $8,500 to build a new wheelchair accessible entrance on the front of the building, while the town covered the cost of labour through a government grant.
With such success and the encouragement of participants who return each year, the bonspiel continues to thrive.
Over the years Buchaneers from home and away have returned for the event to enjoy a weekend with family and friends. Many bring friends – some of whom have never curled before – and they keep returning as well.
The SOP weekend centres around St. Patrick’s Day and participants get into the spirit by sporting green outfits and accessories. The curling club is decorated with leprechauns and shamrocks, and you will certainly find Guinness at the bar.
Last year saw the “resignation” of Rob Lane, a 25- year veteran of the spiel, but he is still involved in the event, with Michael O’Brien taking on a more active role. Both have been volunteering for many years, ensuring a successful weekend for all.
“I'm just trying to take much of the work load off Rob,” O’Brien says. “Twenty-five years is a long time to take that burden. He's still involved, and his experience is crucial to our efforts.”
O’Brien said there are many others on board to help, including Charlene FitzGerald, Diane West, Derm Corbett and Hank Whalen, who still volunteer their skills after many years.
“Most of (the prep work for the ice has been) done – flooded, limed, hacks, lines down – it just needs some finishing work,” O’Brien says, adding there have been no issues resulting from the recent unusual weather.
It’s too early to tell how many teams will be involved with this year’s SOP but O’Brien says there is a lot of interest as usual.
Bob Rossiter is one participant who enjoys this weekend in Buchans.
“We have been travelling from Salmon Cove to Buchans for the last four years to participate in the annual SOP bonspiel,” says Rossiter. “We have gained a lot of new friends who enjoy the game of curling.
“The weekend boasts a fun and enjoyable time and we look forward to it each year. It is just a wonderful weekend of fun, friendships and a lot of laughs.”
Included in the fun are live entertainment on Friday evening, a pizza supper for all participants on Saturday, kitchen grub, and a dance Saturday evening.
Depending on the number of teams registered, curling draws could begin Thursday and run through Sunday, with a break Saturday night for the dance.
Championship games are played Sunday afternoon.
For information on how to participate in the bonspiel, call 672-3871 or 672-3972.