INNISFAIL – Heading into last weekend’s big event Dean Turnquist and his dedicated committee members were a bit anxious.
There was plenty of hard work from them to prepare for the belated 25th Annual Dean Turnquist Spring Fever Road Hockey Tournament, an annual cherished tradition that was cancelled in 2021 and 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, it was soon apparent the love Innisfailians had for the road hockey tourney was not forgotten.
“Like you say, we were apprehensive. We weren’t sure how people would react, and if people would come out,” said Turnquist, adding committee members were “pleasantly surprised” with the number of citizens who came to the Arena and the cabaret entertainment Saturday night at the Innisfail branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.
“Those that did we are very appreciative. We are super grateful for those who continue to support us and we look forward to doing this again."
“We spend a lot of time planning it three years ago,” he added of the initial 25th anniversary plans for the 2020 event. “It got cancelled and to bring this back again this year we were cautiously optimistic, and we’re really happy now with how it turned out.”
Turnquist said the number of teams entering this year was slightly down from past pre-COVID years but not the enthusiasm for the benefits it brings to the kids of the community.
The event attracted 86 adults for 10 teams and nearly 100 kids for 11 teams. Most teams were from Innisfail but there was a few from out of town as well, including one from Sylvan Lake and another from Spruce View.
Most importantly, it was the generosity that mattered most. Turnquist said the money raised from the event was easily on par with the best past spring fever tournaments.
He said up to $6,000 of the total money raised on the weekend will go to the Helping Hand Fund that supports children from financially challenged families with the opportunity of participating in Innisfail’s minor sports programs.
“That is actually comparable to what we usually make each year at the road hockey tournament; in that $4,000 to $6,000 range,” said Turnquist. “On a good year we make a bit more, and I would say this year we are right in the middle of that.
“That money goes right into the Helping Hand Fund and that will go back into the community, hopefully to ensure no kid in our community misses out on an opportunity, whether its sports or other things too, like playing in a school band. The whole point of the Helping Hand Fund is to make sure kids have the opportunity to participate in community activities.”
The committee will soon get together for a wrap-up meeting. He said members will be donating money to worthy groups who need support.
He said the committee will also be planning for its annual Duelling Pianos event in November. The committee also does the annual Family Day Pond Hockey Tournament. Sadly, however, those two fundraisers have also been victims of the pandemic.
“These three events all generate revenue for the Helping Hand Fund,” said Turnquist. “Coming out of COVID with the first event we were super happy with how things went.
“We are trying to remember all the things we used to do, and I think we did a pretty good job, people were really happy, and at the end of the day we raised some money for kids in our community, and that’s what it’s all about.”