Yorke Memorial Tournament in jeopardy

Andrew Wagstaff
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Family considering cancelling charity event due to scheduling conflict with car show

A scheduling conflict with the local auto club has left the future of the Don Yorke Memorial Slo-Pitch Tournament in doubt.

PARRSBORO A scheduling conflict with the local auto club has left the future of the Don Yorke Memorial Slo-Pitch Tournament in doubt.

Organizers of the ball tournament, which has raised money for local charities for the past 21 years, were unable to book the Lions Arena for their Saturday night dance during the tournament that is scheduled for the weekend of July 27-29. That also happens to be the same weekend of the Fundy Shore Auto Clubs annual Show n Shine car show, and the car club has the arena booked.

Its a slap in the face, after 21 years, said Neil Yorke, one of 11 siblings who organize the tournament every year in memory of their father.

The tournament wont happen in Parrsboro this year without the rink.

The dispute stems back to last summer, when the Lions mistakenly double-booked the arena to both the auto club and the DYM committee. To resolve that situation, the car club agreed to give up the arena on Saturday night and allow the dance to take place. But at that time they made sure to book the arena for the same weekend this year, and are not willing to give up the arena Saturday night.

The auto club asked for the arena that weekend, we booked it, and as honourable people were living with that, said King Lion Gerry Roberts.

That is not sitting well with the Yorke family, who feel they have earned the right to have first offer on that weekend or at least be consulted when a possible scheduling conflict arises. Family member Karla Fulton said no one in the family knew the arena was unavailable for that weekend until she tried to book it in the fall.

Throughout its history, the ball tournament has been held on the weekend prior to the long weekend in August. Consistency has been important because arrangements with sponsors, accommodations, vacations, entertainment and promotional materials have to be arranged far in advance. Such arrangements have already been made for the July 27-29 weekend this year.

Since becoming aware of the conflict the Yorkes have pleaded with the Lions and the auto club by letter and through meetings to reconsider their position, but to no avail.

If you went to the Lions and tried to book the ice in the arena for every Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. for the entire season, they would tell you no because its the old-timers ice time, she said. The old-timers dont have a signed contract, and they dont have it booked. Its an understanding. We think we deserve that too.

Roberts said it is unfortunate that the tournament might not happen this year, and recognized that the Lions would lose considerable revenue by not being able to host the dance, but that it is important to honour the bookings they make.

Like any business you cant just assume that things are going to happen from year to year, he said. The people with the Don Yorke tournament sent all their stuff in to the Department of Tourism with dates assuming we would hold that weekend for them, and Im afraid we just cant operate that way. We have to get commitments from people and they should understand that.

Started in 1985, the ball tournament has donated $88,000 to various local charities during its history. But it is perhaps best known for the social event that culminates around its Saturday night dance, which draws upwards of 700 people every year. The Lions Arena is the only venue in town large enough to hold that many people.

The prospect of losing the ball tournament and its dance has already created a furor around town and on cyberspace, where family member Tyler Fulton sent out an e-mail plea for public support. The e-mail continues to get passed around, while bloggers Mike Quinn and Nick Skidmore have started an online petition on their website to Save the DYM at http://www.wesayso.ca/blog/parrsboro/dym#comments.

While the family is still hoping a compromise can be reached, time is growing short. Neil Yorke said they must make a decision within the next two weeks whether or not to continue with plans for this years event. Changing the date or the venue for the dance is not an option, according to Karen Yorke-Gilbert.

Organizations: Fundy Shore Auto Clubs, DYM committee, Department of Tourism

Geographic location: Parrsboro, Yorkes

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