The Viterra Men's Provincials Curling Championship is starting up in Stonewall Wednesday. The event brings together some of the biggest names in curling as well as many spectators.
Andy Stewart, originally from Portage la Prairie, is chair of the organizing committee.
"The community is getting pretty excited over the events," says Stewart. "We're taking over the arena complex and the ice will be starting to go in and building the stands and everything. So, it's going to be a great event for our community," says Stewart. "The sponsorship has been fantastic from the local community and we've also got some rural sponsors all from across the province, which is great."
He explains curling takes place from Wednesday to Sunday, and there are some live entertainment events on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the quarry patch.
"We have the one-man band, Grant Leutschaft, who is an excellent performer. He'll be there on Friday and Saturday night. Then we have some local entertainers on Thursday," adds Stewart. "We have a great core committee of about 20, and I think we're up to about 200 volunteers to keep the thing going. The last time we had a big event like this was the Ladies Scotty 10 years ago. We ended up having a couple days of sell-outs, so we had to turn people away. You can have day passes and people also can buy game passes for $20, too."
Tickets will be sold at the door, as well.
"You can get game tickets at any time for $20.00 or $50.00 for a day. That gets into all the events that are going on at the time during that day," adds Stewart.
Jeremy Sundell is curling out of the Holland Club and is their first from there in more than 50 years.
"For us, it's a really new experience because it's our first time being there. We've learned a lot over the past year or two from playing a little bit higher level than we had been. And now, I think, we're ready to go," says Jeremy.
He notes he has family members on the team including a couple of brothers as third and second as well as another brother as a spare.
"Our lead is Thomas Hugger. He's kind of the glue that keeps us all together and keeps those brothers in line."
He outlines how they will approach the competition.
"We just just play our game. I think that's all you can do. It doesn't matter who you're playing, you just play to your strengths and enjoy whatever happens," adds Jeremy. "There were five teams in Clearwater (Dec. 9, 10) and there three berths that came out of that Bonspiel. To qualify, we needed to win two games. We won three games."
Over the winter, he notes that they stepped it up a little bit since they got the berth.
"We we went to the Manitoba Open two weeks ago. That's the largest Bonspiel in the province; I think 192 teams. We got some good experience with nine different games across nine different rinks in Winnipeg. We did good. We lost the finals of one of the lower events, but we had a lot of good teams and had a lot of fun."
Jeff Stewart is from Gladstone and notes they've been playing for some time, and don't get star-struck while seeing all of the big names, but simply go out and see what happens.
To qualify, he explains they won their regionals in Dauphin this year.
"We won't try and get too much practice and we'll just see what happens when we get to Stonewall."