INNISFAIL – They chased, and they ran with sticks held high.
Sometimes they scored. Most of the time they missed.
But they all had fun.
Last Saturday (May 13) was a glorious warm cloudless day; a perfect day to suit up and play lacrosse.
“It was like night and day from last year. I remember sitting outside in a blanket and this year it's about 25 degrees. It's a perfect weekend for it,” said Amber Philip, director of public relations and fundraising for the Innisfail Minor Lacrosse Association (IMLA).
Hundreds of young kids joined in for the fun at the Innisfail Twin Arena for the 7th annual Terror of the Tykes Lacrosse Festival; an increasingly popular pre-Mother’s Day event founded by Innisfail community builder Jamie Flaman, tournament coordinator for IMLA.
The festival, which attracted more than 300 girls and boys from across Central Alberta, was a full day of lacrosse fun for excited kids between the ages of four and nine.
Outside the Arena there was a carnival-like atmosphere.
Attendees had loads of options for fun.
There were food trucks, face painting, bouncy castles and a Mother’s Day Market with a score of crafts booths.
However, the game of lacrosse was paramount.
“We’re here basically to draw attention to the growing sport of minor lacrosse in Innisfail and throughout Central Alberta,” said Philip. “It’s really just bringing families together and trying to introduce the sport to the community.
“There is no charge, and no fundraiser. It’s just trying to raise more awareness.”
She was clearly delighted with the turnout, which also attracted many non-lacrosse folks across the community who came just to be part of the fun.
Philip said the festival, which is always held the day before Mother’s Day, attracted 25 teams from across the region, including north to Ponoka, and south to Carstairs. In between there were squads from Red Deer, Sylvan Lake, Blackfalds and Stettler.
And the day was not about winning big prizes or trophies. No official champion was declared at the end of the day.
“We're all champions. We're all Phantoms. It's just a fun day for the kids,” said Philip.
But this year’s event also underscored the fact the annual festival continues to grow.
Philip said numbers this year are about double from when the festival first started.
“Our U9 team has grown from one team to two teams. It's grown from about 15 kids to 30, so it’s doubled since last year. Our U7 team has grown from two teams to three. That’s about 27 kids in total,” said Philip. “And our U11 program has gained an extra team, so we've doubled in size for that age group as well.”
The Terror of the Tykes event that began in the morning finished at 4 p.m. but that was not the end of lacrosse action.
Steve Mackie, director of equipment for the IMLA, noted there was game action scheduled from teams in the U11, U13 and U17 divisions.
That’s another six teams, including three from Innisfail, and 90 players to add to the 25 squads with more than 300 players involved in the Terror of the Tykes festival.
“We kind of involved our whole association into today so that the kids, even the little kids, get to see the big kids play, which keeps them involved,” said Mackie. “It's all about retaining the kids; the little guys up to the older kids.”