Monday, 10 July 2017 05:25

Grasslander Classic invites back home-town NHL hero Trottier

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Officials in Val Marie and Grasslands National Park (GNP) are gearing up for a big celebration the end of July in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary and inviting home-grown hockey legend Bryan Trottier to be part of the events.


The Grasslander Classic, hosted by the small Sask. community and the West Block of the park, is set for July 28-30. Trottier, the former NHL all-star and five-time Stanley Cup champion who was raised in Val Marie, plays a prominent role in the weekend festivities.
“We’ve got hometown hero Bryan Trottier from Val Marie here, so we’re bringing him home for the weekend,” says Carrie Clausen, product development officer for Grasslands, about the celebration held in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary.
Attendees can start the weekend on the Friday in Val Marie with a book launch of The Grasslanders, Ranch stories from Grasslands National Park by local author Thelma Poirier in the afternoon. There will be a historical walking tour of the village and then people can welcome Trottier back to the community with a dinner, entertainment and fundraising auction. Trottier will be the guest speaker and people will be able to see many of his trophies.
The cost for the dinner is $25 per adult or $10 for children older than 10. All funds raised from the dinner will be used for improvements to the Val Marie Recreation Complex and the hall.
Festivities continue into Saturday with a pancake breakfast (cost of $5 per person), parade and local marketplace in Val Marie in the morning.
Activities at the Frenchman Valley Campground in the afternoon will include kayaking, wagon rides,a children’s activity pavilion, bison facility tours, archery and more.
People can pre-register a team for the ball hockey tournament and battle it out for the title. They can also dance the afternoon away and into the evening at the outdoor concert with Guy and the Fellas, local band Navajo, and Buckshot.
“Then on Sunday we’re going to cap it off with a farewell reception with Bryan Trottier. People can get autographs and pictures with a legend, so we’re really excited about this event this year,” says Clausen.
The farewell reception with Trottier is by donation and takes place from 9 a.m. to noon.
“It’s pretty awesome to get Bryan down,” she adds. “We’re lucky he grew up in Val Marie ... and he’s very supportive of this event. He loves raising money for the community and the kids in the community so he’s more than willing to come down and help us out for this event.”
Those interested in attending can also book a bus ride from Swift Current and Maple Creek on the Saturday of the weekend. That can be done online.
Clausen is pleased GNP is able to collaborate with the community of Val Marie to host such a unique weekend of events in celebration of Canada’s 150th. The national park is also one of the places people can visit for free this year with the Discovery Pass offered by the federal government.
“It’s a great (opportunity) for Canadians to come and explore all the national parks (and historic sites) across Canada,” adds Clausen. “(People) can come out and explore each park. Each park is so different and unique and they really get a chance to get a taste of each park and celebrate what is special about each park.”
Grasslands is unique in Canada amongst national parks for a number of reasons.
“Grasslands National Park is the only park in Canada to represent the prairie grasslands natural region so lots of people want to come and explore it,” explains Clausen. “We’re one of the largest undisturbed remaining pockets of native grasslands in North America and we have over 20 species at risk in the park so a lot of people come to see those animals in the park that you can’t see anywhere else which is really cool ... We’ve got the Badlands, hills, coulees, a really beautiful landscape (and there are) over 12,000 teepee rings in the park so that’s a lot of history here in the grasslands.”
Visitors to the park can see black-tailed prairie dogs, short-horned lizards and bison, in their native prairie landscape. The flora and fauna has been a draw for the park as visitor numbers continue to increase year over year. Last year about 13,500 visited the park while the year before that there were approximately 11,500 visitors.
While the park is open year-round, the Visitor Centre operates from the May long to the September long weekends.
Clausen is excited for individuals to explore and experience Canada in 2017 for the special anniversary.
“I feel very fortunate to be able to celebrate this year and be part of a Parks Canada system,” she adds. “There is lots of excitement and buzz just within our own organization and all of the programs we’re able to do, and seeing the visitors come into the park. It’s just really exciting and a great time to be a part of (this) organization.”
For advance tickets for the Grasslanders Classic people can visit the website at: visitcypresshills.ca or contact the Visitor Centre by phoning 1-877-345-2257.
To reserve a campsite in the Frenchman Valley Campground phone 1-877-737-3783 or visit www.reservation.parkscanada.gc.ca. Event ticket fees do not include camping fees. In the event the campground is fully reserved, all people wishing to camp will be accommodated in the overflow areas. People can self-register for overflow camping upon arrival as reservations are not necessary.
For additional information, people can visit: http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/sk/grasslands/activ/glc_1.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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