Funtastic festival swings up success

Some teams dressed as Super Mario video game characters. Others were dressed as super heroes, doctors, nurses, Borat or the Blues Brothers.

Some teams dressed as Super Mario video game characters. Others were dressed as super heroes, doctors, nurses, Borat or the Blues Brothers.

One team paid homage to Hollywood actor Chuck Norris, taking the plural of his name and coming up to the North Okanagan for the second year in a row to participate as Chuck Norii.

Another squad, a combined Fort St. James-Vernon entry, was the talk of the beer gardens Saturday night, having ended a nearly decade-long losing streak with a come-from-behind win.

Overall, there were smiles, laughs and a ton of memories made at the annual Funtastic Summer Festival, held over the Canada Day long weekend.

More than 200 teams played in Vernon with the army camp serving as game and party central. Another 80-plus teams gathered in Armstrong and Enderby.

“It went really well,” said Funtastic Sports Society president Brett Kirkpatrick.

“We had sellouts. We had people from all over the country. There were 5,000 people that I know came here (to Vernon) from outside of the community.”

Besides the softball, people also gather at the Vernon Armp Camp to have some post-game beverages and enjoy live music.

Canadian rock legends Glass Tiger headlined Thursday’s music festival. American band Great White was showcased on Canada Day and Bon Jovi tribute band Blaze of Glory wowed a packed site Saturday.

A number of local bands helped liven up the crowd each night before the headliners.

Of course, the concern is that there will be problems with that many people and that much alcohol consumed in one place.

“We had no major issues,” said Kirkpatrick. “We have great co-operation with the RCMP. We meet with them before and after to discuss things. It really was uneventful in that regard this year, which is what we want.”

“Funtastic was a great event in all of the communities involved,” said RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk.

“From our perspective we were busy, but we were prepared for the event. Everything appeared to go quite well.”

Molendyk said there were a few individuals who did indulge “a little more than they should have, and couldn’t find their way back to their accommodations.”

“We provided lodging for them for the night.”

Police had quite the presence in Vernon, with officers stationed inside the beverage gardens, and auxiliary and bylaw officers patrolling the grounds.

Funtastic had taxi service available along with six free shuttle buses which escorted ballplayers and partiers back to their accommodations, free of charge.

“We find that’s a safe way to do it and find that it works,” said Kirkpatrick.

Vernon Army Camp military police officer Master Cpl. Blair Hiscock, in Vernon for the first time in his career, was impressed by the event.

“It was an excellent chance for us to meet the public and it was good to work with the RCMP on this,” said Hiscock. “We have no issues whatsoever. It was great.”

Funtastic brought in approximately $4.5 million to the Vernon economy and the North Okanagan benefits as figures from Armstrong and Enderby will add to that total.

Teams have already started signing up for the 2012 tournament.

“People want their spot because they know we sell out and people don’t want to be disappointed,” said Kirkpatrick, who praised Funtastic’s 510 volunteers who logged 6,000 hours of duty.

There were 129 corporate sponsors and vendors.