New crew looks to rejuvenate Glacier Challenge

The 29th annual Glacier Challenge takes place this weekend, and the new organizers are hoping to rejuvenate the slo-pitch tournament.

The Glacier Challenge is back for its 29th year

The Glacier Challenge is back for its 29th year

A new group has come forward to take over the Glacier Challenge, saving the August long-weekend slo-pitch tournament from a possible finish.

Mark Baron, Jen Baron and Maggie Spizzirri are running the 29th edition of the event, assuming control after no one from last year’s board opted to return.

“Essentially, it was going to be gone from town,” said Mark Baron, when asked why he took charge. “We didn’t want to see it leave, because if it left it wouldn’t come back, so we added it to the rest of the stuff we do.”

The Barons run the Somewon Collective and Integrated Apparel, while Spizzirri is both the Bear Aware Coordinator and owns Moxie Marketing.

The tournament should look similar to the past few years, and registration is actually up this year to 70 teams, from 67 in 2015. The Revelstoke Ski Club is running the camp ground, the Rotary Club will be running the beer gardens and live music is lined up for each night.

There are a few new events. This year’s challenge will include a fast pitch contest on Friday, a home run derby on Saturday, and a panzerotti eating competition sponsored by the Village Idiot on Sunday.

Baron said he hopes the changes will boost the community’s interest in the event. “Maybe it was getting a little stale for people in town,” he said.

The other big change is the addition of a competitive league with cash prizes. $1,000 will go to the first place team, $500 to the second place team, and the third place team will have their entry fee refunded.

The music lineup is set, with the country-rock band West of Memphis acting as the opener for all three nights. Sam Spades, a high-energy rockabilly group from Edmonton, headlines the music on Friday and Sunday. Saturday’s headliner is being kept secret, but the photo on the website is a very popular stoke-folk band from Fernie, B.C., that the organizers aren’t allowed to legally promote because they’re playing another festival that weekend.

“You know Revelstoke – word of mouth will spread fast,” said Baron.

The cost to enter the beer gardens will be $10 for the weekend and all ball players will get in for free, as part of their registration fee.

“That should boost the numbers at the beer gardens,” said Baron.

It’s been a scramble for the new organizers to get things going. Baron said they only got access to the website and bank account a few weeks ago and have been working to catch up. They were at only 55 teams a few weeks ago, but registration surged to 70 in the past week.

This year they want to survive the weekend and see what works and what doesn’t. The focus will then shift to building things up for the 30th anniversary in 2017.

“We’re trying to make our way through this one,” said Baron. “Since Jen and I don’t have a whole lot of experience running this event, we want to see what goes on with this one and where we need to make those changes and how we can do it.”

The 20th annual Glacier Challenge takes place July 29 to Aug. 1 in Centennial Park.