The Lake Cowichan Appollos’ slo-pitch tournament is just a shadow of its former self, but it’s still a big event around Cowichan Lake on Labour Day weekend.
The tournament once boasted an amazing entry of 96 teams in the mid-1990s that practically doubled the size of Lake Cowichan for four days with players and their families pouring into town to enjoy the last hurrah of summer.
“It just sort of peaked then,’’ said tournament organizer and current Lake Cowichan Mayor Ross Forrest. “It was unbelievable.
“At one time, we had like nine fields going. They weren’t very nice fields. They were very small.’’
Since then, there’s been a steady decline in entries to the low 20s where it remains today. Twenty-one teams took part in this year’s 30th anniversary tournament.
“It’s nice to work with the 20s, way more manageable,’’ said Forrest.
The Appollos’ hockey organization once ran the whole thing itself, but different parts of the tournament have been handed over to other teams and community groups for assistance.
The 1/2 Cutz, for example, look after the beer garden while the Appollos concentrate their efforts on the tournament dance. Several charities benefited from various aspects of fund-raising at the event.
The tournament started with just eight teams 30 years ago and keeps going strong on a more reasonable basis.
Taking into account the huge entries of the past, “we probably averaged about 50 teams for the 30 years,’’ said Forrest. “That’s a lot of ball teams. That’s a lot of people it’s brought to our community.’’
Some of those were probably tubers or rafters who currently swell the Cowichan River near Lake Cowichan all summer.
Great weather made it seem more like the middle of summer for this year’s tournament.
“It was perfect,’’ said Forrest. “It really was good for a change. I know last year it rained.’’
The 1/2 Cutz won the A event over the Long Balls of Victoria after five innings on the mercy rule. Hukkers of Victoria were third.
A family team known as Relative Chaos topped the B event over the Raiders.
Sports Zone of Powell River, a first-time participant, finished third.