Funtastic ready to swing
In 29 previous years, Vernon has hosted thousands of ball players for the annual Save-On-Foods Funtastic Mixed Slo-Pitch Tournament.
Wee Yee, however, is not one of them.
The new executive director of the popular softball event and A&W Music Festival gets his first official taste of Funtastic as the 30th anniversary tournament in Vernon kicks off tonight.
“I’m brand new at this,” laughed Yee from the army camp, the tournament’s home base, Wednesday.
“I never participated as a player. So far, it’s been a great impression. This is a really large event that Vernon and the North Okanagan should be proud.
“It is the largest slo-pitch tournament in Canada.”
A total of 216 teams with close to 5,000 softball players, will take part in Vernon.
Volunteers, sponsors and suppliers have been up at the army camp all week setting up for the four-day event. Games start at various ball diamonds, including the army camp, Kin Race Track, Grahame Park and Alexis Park, tonight and wrap up Monday.
Yee joked he’s been wearing knee pads all week, getting down to pray to Mother Nature for good weather.
“I hope we get nice weather, but not super hot,” said Yee, who comes to Funtastic from Calgary where he was involved for more than 20 years with the board of the legendary Calgary Stampede.
“I don’t want to be picky, but I’ll take super hot over rain.”
As of Thursday, the Weather Network was predicting cloud and some showers today, sunshine and cloud for the rest of the weekend and Monday.
Along with the softball, another of the highlights of Funtastic is the annual music festival.
For the 30th anniversary tournament, Funtastic has brought back two groups that are no strangers to the army camp stage.
Scottish rockers Nazareth will be on stage at 10:30 tonight while iconic Canadian band Trooper will perform at the same time Sunday.
Tribute bands featuring the music of Bon Jovi, Aerosmith and AC/DC perform Saturday.
Local bands are also part of the music lineup, though there is one change. Redfish has had to pull out, and their 7 p.m. Saturday slot has been filled by Vernon rockers Mace.
Funtastic is a North Okanagan event as there are also softball tournaments in Armstrong and Enderby.
It’s the 25th anniversary tournament in Armstrong with games starting tonight and running through Monday at the IPE Grounds and Len Wood Middle School.
Games also run today through Monday in Enderby, which is hosting its 16th annual Funtastic tournament with games at Riverside Park.
The theme in Enderby is “Super Heroes.”
Of course, with the influx of visitors, and beverage gardens located at all three North Okanagan tournament venues, RCMP presence will be high.
“We will be utilizing full resources,” said RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk.
“We will have officers dedicated full-time to the beer gardens in Vernon. We will be working closely with the security company the tournament has hired.
“This also extends to Armstrong and Enderby. We want everybody to have a good time and enjoy the weekend.”