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Central Saanich Days off the bill this year

After 37 years, Central Saanich Lions decide not to host popular Central Saanich Days slow pitch tourney
A boy takes part in Central Saanich Days activities last year. The event was cancelled this year in favour of co-hosting a more family-friendly celebration.

Centennial Park was noticeably quieter this past B.C. Day long weekend as, for the first time in 37 years, the park didn't play host to Central Saanich Days.

The event was an annual effort of the Central Saanich Lions Club and included a three-day slow pitch tournament which brought teams out from all over the province.

"After [many] years, the Lions Club re-evaluated its position in running this popular event," said club president Ron Basi. "A combination of factors caused a change in direction … the increasing number of competing events on the same weekend, the huge amount of manpower needed, plus changing family values which drove a change in format. [So we] agreed to support the Saanichton Village Association in a one-day family picnic."

The Saanichton Village Association has been hosting a one-day community barbecue in August at Saanichton Green for the past three years. The group took the opportunity this year to pair up with the Lions to offer a somewhat larger event to be held at Centennial Park.

"The community barbecue will give the community a chance to gather at a similar event [to Central Saanich Days], but it will be more family oriented," said Jan Carroll, one of the event organizers and SVA board members.

Although the barbecue will offer a similar event to families on the Peninsula, Ken Mariette, public relations representative from the Central Saanich Lions Club, said the decision was a hard one.

"It was a very, very difficult decision to not host Central Saanich Days," said Mariette. "It ran the same way for 37 years, so to make the change in direction was difficult. A lot of the ball teams were disappointed, but it's just a change in direction and we're really trying to take the event back to its roots as a family event."

The two groups will co-host the fourth annual Saanichton Community Barbecue on Saturday, Aug. 18 which will feature a bouncy castle, pony hop racing, bocce ball, ladder golf and ring toss. It will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Centennial Park. Food and drink will be by donation and will be prepared by the Lions Club.