The OpenMinder was lucky to catch
Gerry Foster in the middle of his busy schedule, among other
things, promoting the Grand Forks International Baseball Tournament.
He had just returned from south of the border putting up posters
and spreading the word about Grand Forks
and the G.F.I.
OpenMinder: Most great things in the world are usually the result of one person’s dream. Is this true for the Grand Forks International Baseball Tournament?
Gerry Foster: It is, indeed and in this case the one person is Larry Seminoff. That vision began over 20 years ago and this will be the 22nd Grand Forks International, although it was not an international tournament from the beginning. There have been a few off years the last two olympic years… but it started as most things do, I guess the favourite phrase to use is “humble beginnings”, where it was for the most part a local tournament with teams from the area and it grew from there when it went out of province, then out of country.
The dream or vision that Larry had, he probably saw further than anyone else in terms of a small community of this size pulling off a tournament of this magnitude and stature.
OM: That’s quite impressive. You were mentioning that it didn’t start out as an international affair. When did the first teams from outside of Canada come in?
Gerry: Well, the second half of the 80’s, Larry had contacted mainly Japan and Taiwan, and they definitely showed an interest. But it wasn’t until he met some of the baseball officials in person and they could relate to who he was and to the tournament itself, and so the next time around Japan and Taiwan came on board, and they were a tremendous hit with the crowd right from the opening pitch. In fact, when they were out there just having their in-field practice, some of the people were just buzzing in the stands, they were so exciting.
OM: Bringing teams from outside of Canada, there is probably some unique challenges that present themselves.
Gerry: Well, one thing that is quite obvious is the language barrier and even if you’re communicating with an interpreter, sometimes things can still get lost in the translation. Also, when the teams arrive here in Canada, they must be taken care of from the moment they land, which in most cases is in Vancouver, so you need a chartered bus… you have to cover everything like where do they eat breakfast, accommodations, all that kind of stuff. All this does take a lot of time and effort and a lot of arranging. But we think it’s worth it, we’ve seen some very exciting ballplayers from those countries.
OM: I understand that Cuba was going to play here at one time?
Gerry: In 1997 an invitation was sent to Cuba and, as some people would agree, some of the finest baseball players come from Cuba. So we hoped that they would come here, but it was very difficult dealing with the Cubans, and finally their roster was sent and unfortunately the names on the roster could not be recognized as some of the baseball players of Cuba and it became evident that they were not going to send their best ball players, even if they had sent their national B-team or C-team, but this appeared to be just a collection of people off the playground, so to speak. And a huge commitment had been made by Taiwan to send their national team here. So the stature of the tournament would have been dropped in the eyes of the Taiwanese and Japanese and the Americans as well as the Canadian teams, and it was a very difficult decision to tell them that the deal was off. But it didn’t affect the 1997 tournament, it was a marvellous tournament.
OM: The stadium that we have here is definitely bigger
than what you would expect to find in a town our size. Is there
a story to that?
Gerry: Well, it is named James Donaldson Park and it is the legacy of James Donaldson, as we were speaking of “a dream and a vision”, he certainly was very important in that land being left for a ball park and I think here in Grand Forks we are very fortunate to have a stadium of the size that it is in terms of the grandstand, the bleachers, but beyond that it is an excellent baseball diamond. One of the pamphlets for the G.F.I. a few years ago had it named “the diamond in the rough”. In the baseball park alone, there is so much work that goes into it in a tournament year, so for the last several weeks there has been volunteers working in that stadium, getting it up to major league standards would not be an exaggeration. We figure it’s one of the finest of this province and when the tournament begins on August 31st that stadium will be a sight to behold. There is some technical things that the average person might not understand, but whether we are a baseball fan or not, we should all be proud of having such a stadium here in Grand Forks.
OM:Are the baseball scores and highlights of the game planned to be on the web, so people from all over the world will be able to follow the games?
Gerry: Yes, and that’s an exciting part of this international tournament. They’ve had this website for a while, but this will be the first time when, during the tournament, anyone in the world can get on the Internet and can follow the Grand Forks International inning by inning, in fact there will be updates minute by minute, so it will be almost like watching it. Certainly for the families and friends of these visiting teams, it will be exciting for them to know what’s happening to their teams. With people from all over the world hearing about Grand Forks, who knows what the fruits of Grand Forks being on the net like this will bring in the future in terms of tourism, etc.
OM: Would you consider the teams professional in the quality of players?
Gerry: Most of the teams from the U.S. are considered semi-pro teams and you’ll have some former major league players on those teams. You’ll have some that went as far as single-A, double-A or triple-A and played in the minors, which is professional ball, so we’ll have quite a mix of players. Then we have the college team that comes from Lewiston, Idaho.
OM: Being such a well-known tournament and top-quality players from all over the world coming here, is there any scouts that come to look for players to play in the major league?
Gerry: Yes, I remember in the first tournament I was at back in 1986/87, to hear and see major league scouts were here, my first reaction, to be honest with you, was “you’ve got to be kidding!”, but of course I realized that this is indeed the place to come to and after the mid 80’s when probably the best ball player that Canada’s ever produced, Larry Walker from B.C., was inked to a contract with the Montreal Expos just a few minutes after the tournament ended here in Grand Forks. I think that from then on major league scouts would find that some pretty good ball players were showing up at the G.F.I., and with Larry Walker, it’s a nice story, but there are many more like it. I think it adds to the stature and the excitement of watching this tournament to know that there is major league scouts coming here.
OM: I heard that the Russians are coming here this year?
Gerry: Yes, I think that’s very exciting. Some people’s reaction has been “I didn’t know they played ball in Russia” and indeed it is a “new” baseball country, I believe they have been playing baseball for about a decade now, at least more seriously, in a more organized way. But baseball in Europe is improving, I think there is more interest showing and Russia is not a world baseball power yet, but they have some players coming up the ranks and they’ll bring their very best to Grand Forks, there is no question about that. They are coming with their national team and they’re attempting to supplement their team, if possible, with a couple of players who were here in North America who were signed by the L.A. Dodgers.
OM: With the Doukhobor culture and people in this area the fact that Russian Team is coming should add some more flavour to this tournament.
Gerry: Yes, I agree with you there, to have the wonderful Doukhobor people that we do have here and throughout the region, with their roots going back to Russia, it will be something else for the Russian team, but also for the people here. I’m sure they’re looking forward to it.
OM: I assume that the volunteer effort is quite awesome for an event of this size?
Gerry: A few years ago I asked Larry how many volunteers would be involved in the tournament in an average year and he said to me, you know, it might be upwards of 200 – 300, not necessarily that particular week of the tournament, but in the months and weeks before the tournament as well.
It takes time and dedication and we hope that there are more inspired people out there ready to get involved.
Country Bluegrass Festival
“A pickin’ party on the back porch at Lind Valley Guest Ranch – that would be fun.” That thought came to Faith Studds and Ron Waltner, owners and hosts of the ranch, one fine morning early in the summer of 1998. The idea quickly gained momentum with local and Okanagan Country and Bluegrass fans. From a back porch event it grew until by August 15/16 of ’98, 300 – 400 people enjoyed listening and playing music on a level landing on the ranch property. When plans for a 1999 Festival started to materialize, it was decided that the ranch facilities could no longer accommodate the expected crowds and sloped hillside camping was not suitable for larger camping rigs. So, Faith and Ron, along with Keith and Marilyn Dixon, approached the city of Greenwood with a plan to hold the festival in the little city. The Greenwood Mayor, Arno Hennig, and councillors, were very supportive of the whole idea, thus the festival found a new home, the Greenwood City Park. Since we are located in the Boundary Country tourism area, the new name “Boundary Country Bluegrass Festival” seemed to fit. The dates, August 13, 14 and 15 of this year were already listed as part of the B.C. Bluegrass Festival circuit.
The Lind Valley Country Bluegrass Festival drew local crowds and musicians from the Boundary and Okanagan areas. Some of the same musicians, such as the Rusty Buckle Banditos, Fred Chartrand and Bob Fujimoto from Grand Forks, The Lind Valley Ranchers and the Baird family from Greenwood and the Bluegrass Connection from Summerland will again be performing. As well we have Bluegrass groups from farther afield, such as the Nechako River Bluegrass Band, the host band at the Ol’ Sawmill Bluegrass Jamboree in Prince George and winners of the B.C. Bluegrass Band of the Year Award. The Okanagan’s Kettle Valley Brakemen will bring the romance of the railway era, in stories and original songs. Vern Charlton from the Deep South Bluegrass Band teams up with Frankie Rodgers, Canadian champion fiddler from the Country Music Hall of Fame, to bring us solid traditional bluegrass and country favourites in a relaxed, friendly manner. From the Kootenays comes the new group, Kootenay Standard Time, to delight us with traditional bluegrass renditions accompanied by mandolin, guitar, bass, harmonica, banjo and yes, believe it or not, washboard!!!
Sunnyside Blue from Salmon Arm and the Eek Sisters from Rock Creek will also be on board. Harry and Gladys Rusk, country gospel entertainers, will sing Saturday night and again Sunday with several other groups for a gospel morning. Open mike time for anyone who would like to play is available, especially on Sunday afternoon.
The Boundary Bluegrass Festival welcomes guests from the Boundary and from afar. Many local clubs and organizations, such as the Boundary D Beef 4-H Club, Boundary Minor Hockey Bantams and the Greenwood Public Library will profit through concession booths. The Boundary Citizens’ Patrol, providing security, will receive some of the proceeds as will the Boundary Tourism Action Committee, for help in promoting the event. Other concessions and craft booths will also be on site.
The tradition of the wild boar roast started at Lind Valley last year will be continued in fine style with a pig roast and all the trimmings prepared by professional chef Ray Renaud, alias the “Pigman of Greenwood”. Another Lind Valley tradition, the horse-drawn Wagon Ride, will be continued along the shady lane bordering Boundary Creek.
To all who attended the festival last year and to all newcomers we extend a very warm welcome to the Boundary Country Bluegrass Festival and to Greenwood, the smallest city in Canada. Since there is no music scheduled Friday and Saturday mornings, you will have a chance to explore historic Greenwood and all it has to offer. This is a good, clean, family-oriented festival with a great kiddie playground in the Lion’s Park on the festival grounds.
Friday: 12:30pm – 10:30pm / Saturday: 1pm – 11pm
Sunday: Gospel 10am – 12:30pm / Open Mike after 12:30pm For more info.
Come and join the fun!!!
Ask the Man!
Question to Mayor Brian Taylor: Why don’t more businessmen run for office in Grand Forks?
Answer from Brian Taylor: Many businessmen cringe when you ask if they have ever considered running for council. Retail outlets are often concerned that taking a strong public stance on an issue could loose valuable local customers, but by far the most common response is the concern over the issue of “conflict of interest”. They point to the often used phrase, “If you appear to be in a conflict, you are”. This kind of statement is not only misleading, but strikes fear in the heart of many a small town businessman. In small towns the relationships between people and businesses is far closer than in the bigger urban areas. When a decision is placed in front of council, the councillor will often know the bidder or the applicant from a church group or a baseball team or as a neighbour. Business people point to the fact that accusations of conflict of interest are made publicly and that there appears to be no process to protect the rights of the accused when faced with being judged in the public arena.
Conflict of interest rules in the new municipal act have undergone some changes and I think some improvements, but in my mind, the best way to attract more business people to public life is to improve the way we behave right here in Grand Forks. We have a responsibility as citizens of this community to hold accountable those individuals or media who would make unfounded accusations. I recognize that it is part of human nature to find some enjoyment in the misfortune of a “Bigshot”, or to want to see your favourite star on a bad day, but gossip, innuendo, guilt by association, and unfounded accusations are actions that hurt everyone. The city is after all a business and I would like to see a balance of business and other interests represented on city council. The reality is we need to make business feel more comfortable with public life.
When, many years ago, I travelled across the States from New York to visit Vancouver for the first time, my english skills were very basic, to say the least. Somewhere halfway across the continent we stopped to grab some breakfast at a Greyhound station restaurant. The young waitress took our order and, when we ordered eggs, asked: “And how would you like your eggs?” Coming from Germany, where the only egg you’ll ever get anywhere for breakfast is boiled egg (and even then, if you order hardboiled, chances are it would still have all that disgusting wobbly white stuff inside!) we asked what she meant. She said, “would you like it scrambled, sunny-side up, over easy or…?” Since it became quite evident we didn’t have a clue what she was talking about, she started to explain with gestures until we grasped the idea. Scrambled ended up being our choice. We were more than impressed with the way we were being treated in this little Greyhound station in the middle of nowhere. Adding that little bit of extra niceness perhaps may not have meant much for her, but it made my day!
by Kirsten Sellid
Summer of 1996 I can feel it now it was hot and I was definitely bothered. My ankle was torn and my mind and body were being sucked into the injury vortex of unhappiness.
Lucky for me, my knight in plastic armour came to my rescue, leading me from land to water. Leaving my mountain bike in the repair shop, I hobbled into a whitewater kayak daily to workout my upper body and mind, just paddling on the lake. Once I learned to keep my boat in a straight line I was off like a rocket. The hypnotic rhythmical strokes were so empowering. Now I wanted to learn how to whitewater kayak. But I had one problem I was terrified of moving water.
My impression of whitewater paddling was frothy whitewater and waterfalls for the hard-core adrenaline junkies, when really it’s about paddling on water that you feel comfortable on and building up to higher volume water if, and when, you are ready. Continuous messages from my inner child kept repeating, “lessons take lessons”. I wanted to overcome my fears of moving water and live to tell about them, so I dished out the cash from my student pocket.
The two-day experience was amazing: two instructors, 6 students, comfortable, slow-moving water and equipment that fit me. I felt safe and trusted my instructors with their guidance, skills, knowledge and experiences. When I caught my first little wave I was so excited and pumped with beginner adrenaline that I almost peed in my rental boat.
Today, I’m still overcoming challenges on the rivers and learning more about myself every time I go out. Being active and alive is great medicine for healthy living. Kayaking is the medication for your water recreation, from Christina Lake to the Kettle, Granby and Slocan Rivers. If you don’t want to try the playful whitewater boat, paddle a recreational or touring kayak.
When it’s hot, or not, and you want to be active, get wet get into a kayak and have fun!
See you on the water – Monkey Girl!
Grand Forks BMX Hosts Provincial Races
On the August 13, 14, & 15 1999 weekend, the provincial BMX races will be held in Grand Forks. For those coming from out of town, there is some fine Motels/Hotels available as well as the City Park Campground located beside the BMX track. Contact the Chamber of Commerce at (250) 442-2833 for more information on accommodations. This is a big event and an important lead-up to the national races next year. Pre-registration is advised. Contact Cathy at 442-5095, Irene at 442-3845 or Bonnie at 442-8064. See you there!
Dave Jackson and his ’81 Camaro compete in the races down at Eagle Track Racewasy in Republic Washington.
If you like to listen to the roar of engines and watch our local boys leave the competition in the smoke behind them, then follow them down to Eagle Track Raceway and cheer them on.
Check out these August – September race dates:
Saturday Aug. 14 Challenge Series Race
Saturday Aug. 28 Canadian Appreciation Day
Saturday Sept. 11 Season Championship
Just For Laughs
An award should go to a United Airlines gate agent in Denver for being smart and funny, and making her point when confronted with a passenger who probably deserved to fly as cargo.
A crowded United flight was cancelled. A single agent was rebooking a long line of incovenienced travellers. Suddenly an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk. He slapped his ticket down on the counter and said “I HAVE to be on this flight and it has to be FIRST CLASS!”
The agent replied, “I’m sorry, sir. I’ll be happy to try to help you, but I’ve got to help these folks first, and I’m sure we’ll be able to work something out.”
The passenger was unimpressed. He asked loudly, so that the passengers behind him could hear, “Do you have any idea who I am?!” Without hesitating, the agent smiled and grabbed her public address microphone. “May I have your attention, please?” she began, her voice bellowing throughout the terminal, “We have a passenger here at Gate 6 WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to the gate.”
Riddle Me This
The Jack of Spades
Joe and Skinny Dakota, a guy known world-wide for his pool-playing skills and card trickery, are playing poker one night.
Skinny picks up one of the cards, the Jack of Spades, and says, “I’ll bet you double or nothing on all your winnings tonight that I can cut a hole in this card and climb through it.”
“Uh huh,” Joe replies, “and will this card be squirting cider in my ear afterwards?”
Skinny smiled, “You know I sometimes make crazy bets. And sometimes those bets backfire on me. But I’m always serious about my betting. So I’m wagering I can cut a hole in this card you see me holding, the Jack of Spades, and climb through said hole.”
“You’re going to pass your entire body, not just part of it, through a hole cut in that card, without tearing it?”
There’s no way a human being could climb through a hole in a playing card, no matter how skinny.
Or is there?
by Sage Raven
The upcoming millennium can help to bring about a rebirth of the desire to be a part of an improved situation on Mother Earth. There are two directions surrounding the coming millennium that we can focus our energies on. One is negative and the other is positive. We can choose to get caught up in the media hype surrounding the dreaded Y2K bug. We can react with fear and sit around and wait for the fallout. But we have another option. We can use the millennium as a catalyst to help transform the quality of life for everyone on this planet by making changes at the community level. We can view the year 2000 as a celebration of our ability to create a sustainable future. Each and every one of us has the opportunity to participate in the festivities. We can implement action plans on a grass roots level in our hometowns to promote positive alternatives to present destructive situations. We can create positive results that will benefit us now and in the future. Energy expended at the community level often transcends the small physical area it is created in and results in positive consequences on a national or global level. My suggestion is to start small, with a project you can handle. Then, watch your efforts spiral outward and make a difference all over the world. Here are some ideas to give you inspiration:
· Landscape a vacant lot or park area.
· Organize a community litter clean-up event.
· Put together a car-pool group in your neighbourhood.
· Participate in establishing and maintaining a section of the TransCanada Trail.
· Purchase your produce from local organic growers at farmer’s markets.
· Write letters to the newspapers or your MLA’s expressing your ideas and creative solutions to problems that concern you.
· Organize and/or participate in a community garden project.
· Inspire others to lead an active lifestyle.
· Share a skill. If you have a special talent, you could invite others to learn from you. Consider giving free classes through your local college.
· Organize a neighbourhood walking group.
· Create a photo scrapbook of your community’s past and present. Put it on public display on the Internet or your local museum or city hall.
· Volunteer your time at a community shelter, recreation centre or youth centre.
If you wish, you can register your project with “Our Millennium”, which is a national registry that records millennium gifts of community activity from all across the nation. Their website is www.ourmillenium.ca. Their snailmail address is 201-49 Front St., E. Toronto, Ont. M5E 1B3.
Let’s make a difference! If we all pitch in, we really can effect positive changes. The millennium can be our symbol for beginning anew. We can chuck the old habits that have dragged us down near the end of this century and adopt new practices that will give rise to an improved situation for everyone and everything on this planet.
In medieval times, a primitive form of biological warfare was used, called trebuchet. A catapult would fling a dead, rotting animal carcass into enemy territory, spreading disease.
The bat is the only mammal that can fly (without a plane).
Depending on where they live, wolves live largely on the meat from such animals as mice and small rodents.
Fleas are attracted to animals by body heat, movement, and the carbon dioxide they exhale.
The elephant is the only animal with four knees.
Methane gas can often be seen bubbling up from the bottom of ponds. It is produced by the decomposition of dead plants and animals in the mud.
From the Editor
It was at a job I once had as a truck driving furniture mover that I met someone putting himself through college, and he turned me on to an author that put a whole new perspective on things for me. This author was Voltaire, a French satirical writer born in 1694 and the particular book was a compilation of many of his writings. During that time “telling it like it is” could lose you your head, which he came close to on more than one occasion. There is a particular story called Zadig (Destiny). Zadig, a very wise, generous and well-educated man is beset by problems due mainly to his very innocent actions in trying to do the right thing all his life. One chapter is about a man named Envious, who goes to Zadig’s house and secretly follows him while he walks with some friends. Zadig writes a verse for a lady friend for no other reason than that of paying a compliment for compliment’s sake. Before anyone reads the tablet, Zadig breaks the tablet in modesty and throws it away. The friends try in vain to find the pieces before the rain came and they went inside. Envious stayed in the rain and searched till he found one of the tablets. He was happy for the first time in his life, for he had in his hands the means to destroy a virtous and attractive man. This is what the tablet said:
By all the greatest crimes
Established on the throne
In these our peaceful times
He is the foe alone
Of course he runs the message to the King and without any word of defence. Zadig, his friends and lady friend are put in prison to await their death.
Meanwhile, the King’s parrot flew to pick up a peach that had fallen on the ground. The missing tablet being stuck to it, dropped on the King’s lap when the parrot returned. The King, being curious and a lover of verses and puzzles, puts it together with the first piece and it matched creating the full poem like this:
By all the greatest crimes the earth is racked and sore
Established on the throne, the King controls our sphere
In these our peaceful times, ’tis only Love makes war.
He is the foe alone whom now men have to fear.
The King immediately ordered that Zadig and his friends be
released and compensated for damages incurred.
I feel the story is an excellent illustration of how half the truth can be so far from the whole truth as to be the direct opposite, and without telling one lie. Not every one is lucky enough to have a parrot handy!
The Jack of Spades
If Joe did take Skinny’s bet, he’d be out all those hard earned winnings. Skinny can do it, and without any word trickery. It takes a little dexterity and patience, but it’s something almost anyone can do.
Simply make evenly spaced cuts in the card, alternating from top to bottom. This will leave the card able to expand like an accordion. Next, with a sharp knife (Kids, get your parents’ help!) make a serpentine cut from one “J” to the other, making sure you don’t break into the slices you already made. The picture shows where all the cuts go. Unless you’re an acrobat, you may need to space the lines closer together than the illustration shows.
Now, carefully unfold the card, and you’ll have a delicate unbroken circle. If you spaced the cuts right, you should have little difficulty passing through the opening.
Like many tricks, it’s all in how you cut the cards.
Did You Know?
How do Eskimos stand the cold?
Hey, they like the cold. What they hate is the heat. No kidding. Some visitors to the Arctic claim Eskimos start complaining about how hot it is once the temperature gets above 40 degrees Fahrenheit or so. The fact is, Eskimos have adapted to the cold. Over many years of living in the Arctic their bodies have developed special ways of keeping warm.
The first is the way their bodies are shaped. Eskimos tend to be short and squat, rather than tall and thin. This does two things. If you’re short, your arms and legs (and for that matter, everything else in your body) are closer to that little heat pump we call the heart. So there’s less danger of freezing. You’ve also got more padding around your torso, so your innards are protected, too. Eskimos have other things that help them out as well. For example, their metabolism is set a little higher. That means they burn their food faster to stay warm. Their veins and arteries are also arranged to carry more warming blood to their hands. So don’t complain if you’re short and squat. At least you’ll never get frostbite. (Excerpt from a very entertaining book called “Know it all!” by Ed Zotti, available at our local library)