Event chair Louis Tanguay, Access Control co-chairs Chris Kalansky and Cindy Kalansky and volunteer chair Sheila Reimer are preparing for the Viterra Championship. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)
The Viterra Men’s Provincial Curling Championship is less than three weeks away and soon curling teams from across the province and fans will be flooding into Winkler for the event.
Event chair Louis Tanguay said planning has been going smoothly. “I had a meeting with the hospitality [organizers] and they asked me if there was anything they could do because they felt like they don’t have anything to do,” he said. “They feel like they’re missing something. They’re not missing anything, they’ve just done it before. We’ve got an earlier start on it this time and they’re ahead of schedule.”
“It’s an odd feeling,” he added. “You feel like you should be doing something but pretty much everything is in place. We’ve just got to let it unfold now.”
So far, Tanguay said ticket sales have been a little slower than expected. He said that can probably be chalked up to the fact that many teams are still qualifying.
“When we did the 2015 Scotties, by Christmas time all the teams were determined,” Tanguay said. “We knew all the teams a good month in advance. With this one, the final three teams won’t qualify until the 22nd of January and the event starts on the 31st.”
“A lot of people that buy tickets are family members,” he added. “We have 10 teams that have qualified. [This past weekend] was a regional qualifier and roughly 16 teams will qualify. Once those teams register, we think people will start saying, ‘Oh, my son qualified so now I’m going to buy tickets.’”
However, Tanguay urges people not to wait too long to buy their tickets. “In 2015 some people didn’t get in,” he said. “We had people as far away as Neepawa and Beausejour that got turned down at the door because they didn’t have a ticket. We’re expecting very strong attendance for this one.”
Tanguay said accommodations have presented a bit of a challenge so far. 32 teams will be participating in the bonspiel. Each team is guaranteed 3 rooms and 120 rooms are available. However, Tanguay said the committee has been working toward finding accommodations and said there should be room for everyone at the end.
As in 2015 at the Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the link between Winkler Arena and the curling club has been built. Also like 2015, the curling ice surface will be transformed into the Original 16 Saloon, which will seat around 400 people, 300 more than the Scotties. Instead of one food venue, there will be three as well as the arena canteen.
Tanguay said sponsorships were strong this year, similar to those in 2015 at the Scotties.
Tickets and more information, including a full entertainment lineup, are available at eventbright.ca, or through curlmanitoba.org.
Access Control is also still looking to fill about 50-60 spots inside the venue, and around 20 people to help with parking outside.
About 300 volunteers are needed and Access Control has around 250 people signed up to help out.
“Our job is to make sure that everybody has a safe and enjoyable experience,” Access Control co-chair Cindy Kalansky said. “Everybody from athletes to coaches to spectators, it’s Access Control’s job to ensure that people are all where they’re supposed to be.”
Since part of the venue will be licensed, all volunteers will need to be 18 or older. Volunteers will also need to take an online course called Smart Choices, offered through Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries. The course takes a few hours and gives volunteers the opportunity to be better qualified to make decisions.
Volunteers won’t be confined to one spot either. “They wouldn’t be stationary in one spot in the building,” Kalansky said. “We’d be able to rotate them through several different posts within their shifts.”
If you don’t want to take the Smart Choices course, volunteers are also needed in ticket sales and parking duties.
Access Control hopes that each volunteer can commit to a minimum of 8 hours during the entire tournament, but Kalansky said the response so far has been heartening.
“Volunteers have been great,” she said. “They’re willing to sign up for multiple shifts. A lot of our volunteers have been willing to commit to 12 or 15 hours, which is great. If we do have volunteers willing to commit to more hours it would be easier for us to fill the schedule.”
Anyone interested in volunteering can pick up a form at the Winkler Arena Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.