The City of Brandon is about to welcome the best Canadian curlers and curling fanatics from across the country who will all gathering at the Keystone Centre from Saturday until March 10. Considering the recent weather, some may just stay there.
Both the competitors and the fans make the Tim Hortons Brier one of the most anticipated sporting parties on the calendar and the city seems prepared for it. Mother Nature, however, is not being so welcoming.
Weather warnings early this week saw temperatures dip to about minus-40 degrees Celsius with the windchill. At one point, the Brandon area was the coldest in the province with thermometers falling to the minus-50 degree mark due to an arctic ridge of high pressure that swung along a band of the province from the Duck Mountain-Russell area to Manitoba’s southeast region.
Considering average temperatures this time of year are generally in the range of minus-five to minus-10 degrees, it’s been (place-curse-word-of-choice-here) cold.
Looking ahead, the 2019 Brier will open Saturday and Sunday with a forecasted temperature of minus-19; minus-30 degrees and minus-29 degrees respectively with the windchill. The frigid trend appears to be here for the long haul. We are entering the month of March with weather representing an angry lion.
Meanwhile, Brandon will be inundated with thousands of people either participating in or spectating at Canada’s men’s national curling championship. For curling enthusiasts arriving from the Maritimes or British Columbia, it’s not always like this. Please don’t judge the city by its unwelcoming climate. There is only so much Brier organizers can control.
One must suspect that the Manitoba Room – which will house “The Patch,” the traditional center of the Brier festivities outside of the curling in Westoba Place – will see more traffic than usual. Spectators might as well stay close to the Keystone Centre through the day to avoid Arctic conditions outside.
It’s not like “The Patch” needs the weather to help pull people through the door. Known as “curling’s legendary party place,” the attraction will host food and beverages alongside a wide array of live entertainment, games and activities throughout the week. Kendra Kay, The Dungarees, The Incredibly Hip, The Proud Sons, The Clubbing Fraggles and Brad Johner and the Johner Boys have been booked to perform shows on Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday respectively.
Meanwhile, Tuesday will also host a lumberjack theme, where Patch patrons can dress in plaid work shirts and take their turn at axe throwing. Wednesday will have a Giant Cup Pong competition, a gargantuan spin on the popular game of beer pong. Then Thursday, teams of Brandon University students will compete in Human Foosball until 10:30 p.m., followed by a chance for Patch attendees to give it a try until midnight.
Finally, The Patch will host autograph and question and answer sessions with Brier teams throughout the week.
Basically, the Tim Hortons Brier is about coming for the curling and staying for the party.
Organizers and Keystone Centre management better be prepared to be inundated. The area’s cold weather presents a miserable inconvenience for anyone outside. The warm climes of the Keystone Center will be an extremely attractive option for everyone in the city next week, whether they enjoy the sport of curling or not.