The Finishers, from Langley, made 12 straight appearances at the Armstrong portion of the Funtastic Slo-Pitch Tournament. For the first time in 28 years, there are no games in Armstrong this weekend due to a lack of registered teams. (Photo submitted)

Armstrong Funtastic streak ends

After 28 straight years, there are no Funtastic games in Armstrong this weekend due to lack of teams

The Finishers started it.

The Langley softball team had so much fun at the Armstrong portion of the Funtastic Slo-Pitch tournament they brought more Langley teams like Git R Dun and Playing The Field with them.

So you can understand why longtime Finisher Sam Wolters was upset to hear that, for the first time in 29 years, there will be no games in Armstrong this long weekend due to a lack of registered teams.

“We’ve come the last 12 years,” said Wolters, whose team included her husband, four kids, their spouses and other friends. “We did Vernon the first year but we are a family team and we heard great things about Armstrong. We loved the fact that you parked your camper (at the IPE grounds) and walked everywhere.

“You walked to your game; you walked to Askew’s. You walked to the best bakery inside Askew’s (Country Bakery) where we bought them out of cinnamon bread every day.”

The Finishers even had a wedding in Armstrong during Funtastic.

“That was Dave and Deb, a couple that came with us,” said Wolters. “It was their choice. They got married on Diamond 1. The (Armstrong Spallumcheen) chamber was fantastic. Patti (Noonan), Carol (Hill-Lonergan), Mayor Chris (Pieper), Fran (Stecyk, from local organizing committee), everybody was great to us.”

As of March, Armstrong Funtastic organizers had eight teams committed, and the deadline for teams to pay and register has generally been April 1.

Fran Stecyk, a 10-year Armstrong committee member, said numbers have been diminishing for a number of years.

“We’ve had 44 teams, that was our largest, but the maximum we could have camping was 32,” said Stecyk, who played in the tournament as well. “Camping numbers kept dropping and dropping, and we just know ballplayers, in general, have aged out and the younger generation hasn’t stepped in to replenish the retiring ballplayers.”

Without the registrations, said Stecyk, the tournament couldn’t proceed in Armstrong.

“We can’t run a tournament with eight teams,” she said. “It’s not fair to the food vendors or the organizers of the beer garden. We’d be setting them up for a (financial) loss.”

Local teams enjoyed the chance to play the out-of-town squads over the Canada Day weekend, either at the two diamonds at the IPE grounds, or the fields at Len Wood Middle School.

Linet Keir, a longtime member of Armstrong’s S&P Strongarms, first got onto a team through daycare parents 15 years ago, and never missed a tournament.

“It absolutely sucks,” said Keir of the Armstrong cancellation. “It was something I looked forward to every year. It was great. The teams kept coming back, everybody knew everybody, and it was fun, good friendly rivalries.

“The whole fairgrounds were a big ring with a game played right in the middle.”

Funtastic will carry on this year in Vernon, with 200+ teams, and in Enderby, with 32 squads. Keir will go to Enderby to watch some games.

Wolters and family are still coming to Armstrong. Her oldest son lives there with his wife, and another child is moving this holiday weekend to Vernon.

“We’ll still participate in the Canada Day activities in Armstrong,” said Wolters.

Asked if perhaps there could just be a one-year hiatus from the tournament, Stecyk said: “that would be nice.”

“But we need the commitment,” she said.

Through its 28-year involvement, Armstrong Funtastic has raised and donated money to many local charitable organizations.

Funtastic games in Vernon and Enderby start tonight, and carry on through the weekend, finishing on Monday.

There will be a Celebrity Softball Game Saturday at 2:45 p.m. at DND 5 in Vernon. Scheduled to take part are Vernon Vipers head coach Mark Ferner; former NHL stars Dean McAmmond and Sandy Moger; ultramarathon sensation Shanda Hill; former Salmon Arm Silverbacks general manager Troy Mick; seven-time B.C. men’s curling champion Jim Cotter and Morning Star sports editor Kevin Mitchell.

Proceeds from the game go toward programs at North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Society.

On Sunday, the Funtastic Home Run Derby will take place at noon, also at DND 5. Proceeds from that event go toward KidSport Vernon.

Just Posted

Warm weather ahead for Okanagan-Shuswap

Environment Canada says no snow at lower altitudes until Wednesday night

Car crash on hwy 97 closes lanes

Officers are directing traffic around the incident that closed lanes heading toward Armstrong.

Yellow Vest movement rallied in Vernon Saturday

Protesters took to the steps of the Vernon courthouse Saturday.

Nature’s Fare Markets has recertified as a B Corp for third time

This B.C. family-owned company is being recognized for their commitment to sustainability.

Japanese Women’s Auxiliary supports Light A Bulb campaign

This gift is the Auxiliary’s 16th donation since 1995.

Yellow Vest movement rallied in Vernon Saturday

Protesters took to the steps of the Vernon courthouse Saturday.

White: Don’t be a Scrooge like me

It gets to the point where you simply can’t avoid Christmas no matter how hard you try.

Kelowna Gospel Mission celebrates Grandpa Lloyd’s success

In a video it shares how an outreach worker helped get Lloyd off the streets

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

B.C. VIEWS: Andrew Wilkinson on taxes, ICBC and union changes

Opposition leader sees unpredictable year ahead in 2019

5 tips for self-care, mental wellness this holiday season

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions urging British Columbians to prioritize self care through festive season

VIDEO: Craft growers will add to recreational market, cannabis producer says

Two B.C. men say their expertise in running small legal medical grow-ops a benefit to recreational market

Christmas wish for Mirielle: love and carpets

Mirielle was born with misshapen back legs and after a tough life on the streets, is looking for a forever home.

Most Read