Saskatchewan Bunnock World Championships

It's a national sporting bloodline the likes of which have not been seen in Saskatchewan since Canada's early hockey domination.It doesn't matter that most people have never heard of bunnock, just know that Canada has taken home the last thirteen Bunnock World Championships. They're held every year in the town of Macklin and there are hundreds of bunnock players making sure that this legacy lives on.So what is bunnock, you might well ask.By modern sporting standards, bunnock is rather ancient. It got its start in the 1800s by the Russian cavalrymen, who found that bunnocks, or horse ankles, set up rather nicely on the frozen tundra of Siberia for a lawn bowling-slash-horseshoe pitching type game.

Although the game has undoubtedly existed in many forms, the official version starts out with 52 bones. The eight heaviest are marked as Schmeisers (throwers) while four more are marked as guards. The rest are ordinary soldiers. The guards and soldiers are equally divided, then set on level ground in two straight lines, 10 meters apart.Four players on either side try to knock down the opposing team's bones with the throwers. The guards must be knocked down first or penalties ensue.

Each team takes turns throwing and the team knocking down the opposing team's bones first is declared the winner.The game immigrated to Canada with Russian German immigrants who would pull out the bunnocks at family functions and weddings.The sport nearly died out before the Macklin Credit Union organized the first World Bunnock Championships fourteen years ago. So serious is the town of Macklin about the sport of Bunnock, visitors are greeted at the town limits with a 32-foot high replica of a bunnock.The championships started out with only 80 teams and has grown to the 320 teams entered for this year's championships.

Over the years many countries have taken aim at the World Bunnock Championship, but no one has been able to match Canada's domination at Macklin, where $30,000 in prizes are up for grabs.Joked an organizer: As soon as someone else wins it will be like hockey, where a Canadian won't win for fifty years. Actually, it's a good excuse to have some fun and a good time.

Perhaps the best thing is that everyone can play. Last year the youngest competitor was three and the oldest was ninety-two. It's a sport that generations of families can play together.The World Bunnock Championships are held every August long weekend.

Macklin is near the provincial border between Provost, Alberta and Unity, Saskatchewan, southwest of North Battleford. First started in 1906, Macklin is growing fast and on a sound basis. Many of the original structures have been replaced by modern facilities, new commercial enterprises have been established and an ever increasing oilfield industry has been established. For golfers, there is the nine hole Lakeview Golf Course that has both level and rolling terrain with a scenic lake view setting.

Accomodation in Macklin on the weekend of the championships is pretty much booked up in advance each year, but there are four motels/inns in Provost to the west and another four to the east in Unity. There are campsites in the Macklin Lake Regional Park, but again they are booked up early. There is an airport with commercial flights at North Battleford, about 140 kms away and an international airport at Saskatoon, 250 kms to the east. Car rentals are available in both centers and there is regular bus service from both centers through Macklin.


Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Canada Vacation.Article Source:


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