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Anniversary bash gets high-fives
There were the guys playing softball in the skimpy bathing suits.
There was the team dressed as John Deere tractors.
But for Funtastic Save-On-Foods Slo-Pitch Tournament and A&W Music Festival executive director Wee Yee, overseeing his first tournament, one particular player out of close to 5,000 stands out.
“He was wearing white panels with a red cross on it – he was a Transformer ambulance – and he hits a little dinky single. He’s beating it down to first base, he’s got all his stuff flying off, and as he’s just getting to first base, the last piece falls off and it trips him up,” laughed Yee on Monday.
“He reaches out and touches first to beat the tag. He puts all his stuff back on. Next batter gets a hit so he’s getting to second, he’s sitting there and he looks like an ambulance.”
Such is what the Funtastic tournament is supposed to be about. People having fun, playing slo-pitch, wearing costumes, having a good time.
More than 200 teams took part in the 30th anniversary tournament in Vernon, while more teams took part in the 25th anniversary event in Armstrong, and the 16th annual tournament in Enderby.
Games wrapped up in all three cities Monday.
For Yee, it was his first-ever Funtastic experience, having arrived in Vernon after more than 20 years on the board of the world-renowned Calgary Stampede.
“I think it went really well,” said Yee. “I probably could have prayed a little harder on the weather but we had rain early in the day, then it was nice and sunny in the afternoon, clouds would come in and then clear up in the evening.
“I talked to a lot of the players, they were all having fun and a lot of teams have already signed up for next year.”
The main headquarters for the Vernon event is the army camp which plays host to the A&W Music Festival.
Legendary rockers Nazareth took the stage Friday night. Bon Jovi, Aerosmith and AC/DC tribute bands were front-and-centre Saturday, and iconic Canadian party band Trooper – who claim on their Facebook page to have broken a Funtastic attendance record – wowed a capacity crowd Sunday (Trooper also said it was their “best-sounding show of the year,” and that “ball players know how to party”).
While the big names drew the people, Yee was impressed with the hometown talent who shared the main stage.
“There are so many great local bands in this community,” he said. “They were fabulous.”
There were no real issues at the Vernon event. A handful of revelers spent a night in the RCMP drunk tank but there were no big fights or any such violence.
Yee credits the security in place to allow players and those attending the music festival to have fun.
“ICM Security, the RCMP and the DND (Department of National Defence), the cohesiveness of working with them to put on a safe and friendly event is tremendous,” said Yee. “I haven’t seen such a good rapport before in other functions I’ve attended.
“Now that I’ve experienced Funtastic, I can say for a relatively small community it’s a well-presented event. The volunteers dedicate their time, they’re always there at their appointed times, having fun, joking with the players. It would be tough to put on this event without the volunteers, the sponsors and the supporters.”