Floor curling is to curling what pickleball is to tennis: essentially the same game, but on a smaller scale.

There were more than 70 players, many spectators, and a platoon of volunteers at Fort Kent Community Hall on Saturday for that community’s annual floor curling bonspiel.

Eighteen teams from 11 different clubs gathered for a day of friendly competition.

Organizer Ernest Chartrand said he was happy with the turnout. The annual event is among those that have suffered in recent years due to pandemic restrictions.

“It’s a good turnout. For the past three years due to the fact of Covid we haven’t had it. And we’ve lost members, and it hasn’t worked out properly,” Chartrand said. “But this year, so far so good,” he said midway through the tournament. “People are having fun.”

Most of the region’s floor-curling clubs will take a turn hosting an annual bonspiel.

Some of the players have curled on the ice for years—some still do. But floor curling is a game that anyone can learn without a curling-club background.

Shirley Highberg of Ardmore curled for years before taking up floor curling. “I used to ice-curl for years, now I’m floor curling,” she said. “Too old to ice-curl—and it’s cold out there!”

Floor curling is played in community halls and seniors’ clubs where the temperature and the social atmosphere are warm and agreeable. 

“It’s a social activity and it’s exercise, even though it’s not strenuous exercise,” Highberg said. “I’d say it’s a recreational and social activity.”

The three sheets in Fort Kent were busy all day Saturday, and the sidelines were packed with players waiting for their next game. 

Chartrand says a key difference between floor curling and ice curling is that the rocks don’t curl “unless you don’t have a level floor.” Fort Kent’s Sheet 2 is notorious in that respect, and the skips learn to read the high and low spots on the playing surface.

While he says most of the players took up the game directly, some longtime curlers apply their experience to the tactics and strategy of the game.

“The ones that have curled on ice and are familiar with curling are usually the skips,” he said.

There were plenty of rocks in play all day long at the Fort Kent floor curling bonspiel Saturday.
The winning teams were A Event: Donna Ducharme, Joyce Dokota, Bella LaFrance, and Marion Nikolayczyk from Fort Kent; B Event: Diane French, Bob Adams, Marie Torchia, and Ron Myers from Cold Lake; C Event: Pat Scully,  Pat Cunningham, Mario Lefebvre, and Beth Dribnenki from Boyle. Photos by JEFF GAYE