The 48 curlers playing in the 60th Oilmen's Bonspiel arrived at the Taylor Curling Club last Thursday, November 19 for what they thought would be three fun and relaxing days of curling. Unfortunately, when the provincial government's new COVID-19 restrictions regarding group activities and events came down at 3 p.m., the Fort St. John Petroleum Association and Taylor Curling Club decided to finish off the day's activities before postponing the rest of the event.
However, the unique one-day bonspiel may have been just as much a success as the traditional weekend format. Each of the 16 teams played one game, and the rock the hole skills competition was moved up to Thursday instead of Friday, with Colby Coates winning the competition and the $530 prize. That night, the annual Oilmen's Bonspiel banquet was held at the curling club. All the door prizes were given out, and the Apex Valve Service team was the last one picked in the reverse draw, winning the $1,500 prize.
The bonspiel had already been delayed a month, and had switched locations from Fort St. John to Taylor due to an ice plant malfunction. Protocols were already in place to ensure social distancing would be respected and teams only had three players instead of four. Try as they might, the Oilmen's Bonspiel executive weren't able to hold the full bonspiel, but were pleased with what transpired.
"It was going to be a different year anyway, we already had a lot less people taking part, but it still went really well. The Taylor Curling Club and volunteers did such a good job, they had security at the door making sure no spectators came in and temperatues were checked for fevers, and I can't say enough good things about them," said Oilmen's Bonspiel Chair Neil Carlstrom.
One bright spot was the bonspiel committee purchased all the food that the curling club had bought for breakfast and dinner, and donated it to the Fort St. John Salvation Army Food Bank.
"It was nice to be able to do something like that. This isn't a good time to have anything go to waste," Carlstrom said.
Carlstrom said it's the committee's hope that they'll be able to hold the remaining two days of the bonspiel sometime after the Christmas break.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at email@example.com.