A curling facility may be one of the newest attractions at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds.Crow Wing County commissioners, as landowners, gave their approval Tuesday allowing the fair association to enter a sublease with the Brainerd Lakes Curling Association.

The plan is to construct a curling facility on the fairgrounds just to the left when entering the south gate. The sublease is expected to start Sept. 1. Fairgoers may recognize the building currently in the space as one where Monster Ears are sold during the fair near the south end of the fairgrounds. The plan calls for that building to be moved and a curling facility with four curling sheets of ice, observation area, restaurant and bar to be constructed in its place. No alcohol would be served at the facility during the fair week.

The curling association would use the facility from Oct. 1 to March 31 and the fair association would use the building from April 1 to Sept. 30. The fair board has yet to vote its final approval.

Dan Thesing, fair board president, attended Tuesday’s meeting and said the curling association approached them about the building possibility last winter.

“We are excited to have them come,” Thesing said, adding the new building will likely be used for fair exhibits or vendors.

Having privately owned buildings on the fairgrounds isn’t new. For example, the Elks own the group’s food booth building. And there have been other non-fair events with alcoholic beverages on the fairgrounds. If the curling association would fold, the fair board would own the building.

If the plan is approved, construction on the curling facility is expected to start this fall and be completed in the spring. The curling association has been using the Hallett Community Center ice on Saturday nights for the past few years. This year, the curling group will be at the Brainerd Area Civic Center on Sunday nights. Curling could begin at the fairgrounds in the fall of 2010 with dedicated curling ice available throughout the week. The curling ice will not be available for skating.

A private donation of $650,000 from a lakes area resident is hoped for as a way to jump-start the project. Hoff said the anticipated cost to build the facility and rough-in a restaurant/bar for the future is $850,000.

The Brainerd Lakes Curling Association, which was formed in 2006, has about 75 members on 16 teams. Mike Hoff, curling club president, told commissioners he was confident the curling club here would grow with a dedicated ice facility that had ice time during the week instead of just weekends and they would be able to attract tournaments to the area. Fundraisers for the facility include events such as a Friday brat sale at Cub Foods in Brainerd. The curling association also will have a booth at the fair.

“It’s a sport for everybody from young to old, men to women and children,” Hoff said of curling. He said they hope to include high school and youth teams.

By Damian Inwood, Canwest News Service

First it was The Bachelorette, then it was Gordon Ramsey. Now it’s The Simpsons.

America’s klutziest family will be hitting the curling rink in a February episode spoofing the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

And, of course, Marge turns out to be a natural with a broom whereas Homer is . . . Doh!

The Simpsons episode is the latest pop culture plug for the Winter Games.

First it was Bachelorette Jillian Harris, who went curling with her suitors in Vancouver and even donned a 2010 sweatshirt.

Then it was celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey, who brought his Hell’s Kitchen show to Whistler’s Araxi restaurant.

Now it’s Homer and Marge who join Principal Skinner and his mother in a mixed doubles curling match for Olympic gold.

Rick Patzke, the CEO for USA Curling, and Edmonton curler Randy Ferbey both agree the episode can only bring a wave of good publicity to a sport that’s not watched nearly as often as hockey, skiing or figure skating.

Patzke said Homer is the quintessential curler in that he drinks beer, eats doughnuts and makes fun of himself.

Talking of cartoons, Vancouver will also feature in a Mario and Sonic, 2010 Olympics video game.

Exactly one year ago today, we posted this story on the first Canadian Curling Association NCC (National Curling Congress) helmed by new CEO Greg Stremlaw.

Another Congress has now come and gone, and today’s news release reveals that another $880,000 surplus has been committed to the long-term reserve fund.

“Financial performance is the item that stands out,” said Stremlaw, in an interview with The Curling News.

“This puts us at $1.7 million in accumulated surplus.”

Indeed, as the CCA newser mentions, a Senior Program Officer with Sport Canada noted that the CCA’s financial performance has been particularly outstanding and that some of the results are hard to believe, given where the organization was only a few short years ago.

There were tons of interesting presentations, workshops, breakout sessions, discussions and notices of motion throughout the week. Items catching our keen TCN eye include:

• a new “Curling For Life” document, which closely examines the “paradigm shift” between curling as a lifetime recreational sport and curling as a high-performance athletic endeavour;

• an embracing of new social marketing efforts, from Facebook to Blogger to Twitter and whatever techno-stuff is still to come;

• plans to “Leverage 2010” and thus ensure that curling clubs are prepared for an expected avalanche of phone calls, walk-ins and other outreach from the general public during February’s Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games;

• an “investigation of the possibility of establishing” a Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship;

• implementation of a single competitor’s fee, starting in 2010-11, that will allow competitors to enter all disciplines which require the payment of a fee;

• a Member Association code of conduct, that will be developed for presentation and approval at the 2010 National Curling Congress.

In terms of elections, 2008-09 volunteer boss Fran Todd of Ontario (CCA photo above) has been replaced by her former Vice-Chair, Graham Prouse of Grande Prairie, Alberta, who now serves as Chair of the Board of Governors. Jack Bowman (Victoria, B.C.) is the new Vice-Chair.

CCA Governors Lew Andrews (St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador) and Beth Sullivan (Bathurst, New Brunswick) have retired from the Board, while three newcomers are on board: Elaine de Ryk of Greenfield Park, Quebec, Ron Hutton of Saint John, New Brunswick and Georgina Granchelli of Sydney, Nova Scotia.

For his part, Stremlaw seems pumped about just how smoothly the curling landscape is rolling out before him.

“I am personally witnessing a collaborative spirit with the stakeholders,” said Stremlaw.

“Truth be told, it hasn’t always been this way. At times the sport can become political.

“We’ve got 14 member associations and they’re all diverse, all different, but there seems to be a genuine interest in working together, getting ourselves to where we want to go.”

Anything else, you ask?

• CCA Governor and longtime curling leader Bernadette McIntyre does have other interests besides the Roaring Game… such as her very cool job

• Monsanto Canada has renewed its sponsorship agreements with CCA through to 2013. The news release indicates that the Continental Cup, which will not be contested in the upcoming Olympic season, will return for another run of events from 2011, 2012 and 2013 …

• Monsanto, of course, also supports western-based curling clubs through the “A Better House” grant program, which disbursed some $80,000 in funding directly to prairie clubs this past season …

• Another curling mover and shaker has taken a step back from the sport. Fast Eddie Lukowich, the former Brier and world champion skip, has resigned his position with the United States Curling Association after nearly 10 years, and just eight months prior to Vancouver 2010. Canwest has the story here

• Winnipeg’s Jill Officer made a recent appearance in Thunder Bay, Ont. on behalf of Olympic sponsor RBC …

World Senior men’s champion skip Eugene Hritzuk is on the air via The Curling Show

• And finally, this brief YouTube video asks the question “What’s curling all about?”
Well, gee, didn’t you know the answer…?

BBC News Scotland

Curlers have been asked to give their views and ideas on a plan to build a new rink in the Highlands.

North Highland Curling Trust was launched in May to pursue the possibility of a new site following the closure of a rink in Brora in 2006.

The trust has commissioned consultants Solas Business Services to gauge the views of curlers in Easter Ross and Sutherland on the plan.

People have also been asked to complete a survey on the trust’s website.

Chairman Ian MacKay said the Brora rink was sadly missed.

He added: “We think the time is right to find out whether it’s possible to develop a new facility in the area but we need information from existing and potential curlers to know whether it’s a goer.

“This is a practical piece of research which will give us the information we need to make a decision about what to do next.”

Now in its fifth season, the U.S. reality TV show Wife Swap recently added “Curling Families” to its casting wish list.
“Our research tells us that curlers are real, interesting people,” says Wife Swap casting producer Kristen Phelan. “And we’re planning to have this episode air just before the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.”

The premise of the show is such: for seven days, two wives from two different families and with very different values exchange husbands, children and lives (but not bedrooms) to discover what it’s like to live a different family’s life.

“It’s an interesting social experiment and a great way to see your family in a whole new light,” Phelan noted.

The show is filmed as a documentary series, with no scripts and no set. It’s just one camera that documents this seven-day life excerpt.

And the call has now gone out to find curling-crazed U.S. families.

Families that appear on the show will receive a financial honorarium for lost wages, time and commitment. And if you refer a family that appears on the show, you will receive $1,000 finder’s fee.

“At Wife Swap we look for a two-parent home with at least one child between the ages of 6 and 17 living at home full time,” said Phelan.

If you are interested, please email Kristen at Casting.Kristen@gmail.com and tell her a little about your family. Or if you would like to refer a family, forward their contact information.