If you live or have lived in Parrsboro, and have an email address, you probably know th4e story by now. There may not be a Don Yorke Memorial Slo-Pitch Tournament this year because of a scheduling conflict with the Fundy Shore Auto Club at the Lions Arena.
The two events co-existed peacefully since the car show began about a decade ago until last year, when somehow they both ended up on the same weekend. In that case the Lions mistakenly double-booked the arena for both events, and the car show courteously gave up the building on Saturday night for the DYM dance, losing several of its entries in the process.
Thinking ahead, the auto club reps booked the arena on the spot last year for the 2007 event, picking the last weekend in July again.
Ever since it started 21 years ago, the DYM tournament has been normally held on the weekend before the long weekend in August, which this year happened to fall on that same July 27-29 weekend. Tournament organizers thought they had an understanding with the Lions that they could have that weekend each year, but tried to go through the formality of booking it anyway a few months ago. It was then that they discovered the weekend was unavailable, after they had already scheduled the tournament and submitted the information to tourism publications, participating teams, etc.
What is clear is that there is no wrongdoer here.
The auto club has the right to book the arena for whenever the Lions are willing to give it to them. They bring a lot of people to town, have great prizes, and donate $1,000 to the IWK every year.
The Lions were only playing it by the book, renting the building on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once the auto club booked it, they had no choice but to honour that booking.
As for the Yorkes, they were only assuming that after 21 years of volunteering to put on this massive event, which has raised $88,000 for local charities, that someone in the town would cut them a little slack. After all, this $88,000 would be only a drop in the bucket next to the economic spin-offs for businesses such as the liquor store, restaurants, accommodations businesses and organizations like the Lions, who reap major profits from the 600-700 people who attend that dance.
The DYM is more than just a slo-pitch tournament. It is a social event that brings hundreds of people to Parrsboro every year. It is by far the busiest weekend in town all year, bringing not only visitors from other communities, but native Parrsboronians coming home to visit friends and relatives. As a social gathering, its bigger than Old Homeweek. Bigger than Old Fashioned Saturday Night. Bigger than Christmas.
The Yorkes deserved better treatment than this. They should have been offered any weekend they wanted for their dance, and if there was the slightest doubt of a conflicting booking, they should have been called.
Unfortunately, it seems that its going to be up to the auto club to take the high road here and offer up a solution. The most logical solution would be for them to once again pull the cars out of the arena to allow the dance on Saturday night again. Maybe as a gesture, the Lions or the Yorkes can offer them a cut of the profits. The auto club meets on March 9 to discuss the situation.
But the best possible solution would be for these two groups to work together instead of against each other. Both the car show and the ball tournament could benefit from cross promotion. How about a few posters about the car show at the ball fields? Or tickets to the DYM dance as door prizes at the car show?
Meanwhile it's up to the people of the area, organizations like the Parrsboro and District Board of Trade and local merchants, and tourism operators to make their voice heard if they want the ball tournament to continue.