Article by Rob Gowan, Owen Sound Sun Times
While COVID-19 has snuffed out Wiarton’s annual celebration of weed and curling this winter, organizers are still planning to again celebrate the harvest with their Fall Fair Grower’s Competition.
The annual Wiarton Bongspiel — Canada’s first event to combine curling and cannabis after the drug was legalized for recreational use in October 2018 — had to be shelved for what would have been its third go-around in January.
But organizers Ted Ratcliffe and Grant Nicholson will continue to hold the homegrown grower’s competition, which has become a big part of the annual curling event.
And they are upping the ante by inviting indoor growers to take part, with this year’s theme being Indoor vs. Outdoor.
“We are really trying to get more of the indoor growers,” Ratcliffe said Monday. “The group of us are traditionally outdoor growers so we want to get the indoor growers in and give us some real competition.”
In its first two years, the bongspiel and accompanying grower’s competition had become a go-to event for those who have an interest in mixing brooms and blunts.
While it was unfortunate they couldn’t hold it in 2021, Ratcliffe said they hope to have it back again in 2022, once the pandemic subsides.
“It was tough missing not just the event, but curling in general this year,” Ratcliffe said, adding that the Wiarton Curling Club has remained closed this season due to the pandemic.
“It is sad the bongspiel won’t happen, but we are trying to raise money for the Wiarton Curling Club.”
Grower’s competition contestants automatically purchase a T-shirt with their $40 entry fee, with proceeds from shirt sales going to support the Wiarton club. All fees associated with the contest cover the costs of scientific testing, prizes and T-shirts.
Ratcliffe said they already have the 10 outdoor growers from last year’s event returning and have had expressions of interest from others.
Organizers are also accepting judges for the event, who also must be local to Grey-Bruce. Judges must also pay an entry fee, which covers the cost of testing and gets them a T-shirt as well. Judges will be expected to make a “serious time commitment” as they will be supplied with eight or more samples to blind test.
Ratcliffe said the hope again this year is to get judges from all different backgrounds and demographics.
“We want to get all types of people, from hobbyists, to people who are in the industry, to medical users, men and women and different age groups,” said Ratcliffe. “The more diversity we can get I think it makes for a better test.”
Competitor and judging entries are being accepted for this year’s competition up until Jan. 9. Judging will then take place between Jan. 16 and March 1, with an awards banquet planned for March 6 at the Red Bay Lodge, if COVID allows.
“It would be nice to be able to do that, but we are definitely not counting on it given the year,” Ratcliffe said. “A lot what of what we got out of the bongspiel was the networking, meeting the growers, trading tips and it just becomes a real hobbyist experience. We want to keep that going.”
The rules stipulate that contestants must be local to the Grey-Bruce area. Their samples will be judged on appearance, smell, taste and effect, and also be analyzed for THC and CBD content. Winners will be announced in a number of categories, including best indoor, best outdoor and best overall.
“Hopefully based on the aggregated scores we are going to be able to say indoor is better than outdoor, or vice versa,” said Ratcliffe. “I am kind of hoping the outdoor wins, but we will see.”
Anyone interested in competing in the competition or being a judge is asked to e-mail email@example.com