The New Year has kicked off a flurry of bonspiels, and first up is the men's bonspiel this weekend from Jan. 23 to 25.

Kendall Waiting, one of its organizers, says it's another sold-out affair, and there's once again a waiting list of teams eager to participate. He attributes their success to putting on a well-organized weekend of curling fun.

"The biggest reason we get that is we encourage teams to come back, and we make sure they get the first crack at participating," Waiting explains. "That promotes a little hype and tradition for them. Plus, we produce a quality event."

Besides the action on the ice and cash prizes, they offer participants a chance to leave with some pretty unique items. There's a rush to get raffle tickets for one of three Vodka machine gun/hand grenade combos up for grabs. Tickets sales are limited to just 100 for each one, and they sell like hotcakes.

They also have several generous prizes donated for the silent auction by local businesses, including a Garmin golf GPS, free bread for a year from Cobbs, Roughneck tickets, and more.

"The bonspiel is fortunate to have a number of sponsors to help make it a success. There are cool different things that we have in our silent auction. It's amazing the competitive juices that people have to win a prize, so it's pretty good stuff."

The UFA has also generosity contributed $1,200 to the Cochrane Curling Club in support of their four bonspiels. 

"They're a long-time sponsor, and we greatly appreciate their participation."

The SLS Family Sports Centre has a Restrictions Exemptions Program in place that helps their participants and spectators alike to feel safe. There's viewing available below and above for spectators.

He says they strictly follow health regulations and encourage people to socially distance.

They had hoped to once again have the Man Van at the bonspiel but it's not currently able to host clinics. It's Canada's first and only mobile men's health clinic that offers free Prostate Specific Antigen blood testing for men aged 40-80 throughout Calgary and rural southern Alberta.

Waiting thanks the community and participating teams for their ongoing support.

"Without all of us working together in cooperation in these trying times, we wouldn't be able to have events like this. It takes a lot of work not only by the men's bonspiel committee but everyone working behind the scenes."

While most of the funds collected are used for cash prizes, they do aim to make a little extra in support of the curling club's junior and senior programs.

The ladies' bonspiel is Feb. 18 to 20, Super Seniors Spiel is Mar. 2 to 6, and the mixed event goes from Mar. 18 to 20. A one-day sterling bonspiel is scheduled for Feb. 5.

Registration for Alberta U20 Provincial Championship closes today

The reputation of quality ice and facility management at the Cochrane Curling Centre continues to grow in Alberta's curling scene.

The Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre is set to host the Curling Alberta U20 Provincial Championship from Feb. 23 to 27.

They'll be a Cochrane presence on the ice for the provincials.

It follows in the footsteps of the curling centre hosting a men's provincials qualifier in December that featured some of Alberta's top men's teams.