With 15 hockey teams here for the OFSAA 'A'/'AA' boys' hockey championship, it's clear to see the economic impact hosting the tournament is having on Fort Frances and the surrounding area, particularly for local hotels and restaurants.
The scene will be repeated next March—albeit on a smaller scale due to the lower number of athletes involved—when Fort Frances hosts the OFSAA boys' and girls' curling championships.
Events such as these, as well as annual ones like the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship and dragon boat festival, certainly are a boon to local businesses. Equally important, they provide exposure to our beautiful area for all the visitors coming in that money just can't buy.
All this is why the International Boundary Waters Dragon Boat Club deserves kudos for finalizing negotiations over the weekend to bring the FMG Ice Dragon Challenge here next January or February—making Fort Frances just one of only four places in North America to host this event, joining Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Saskatoon.
Talk about a real coup.
In fact, Rick Mercer of CBC's “Rick Mercer Report” tried his hand at ice dragon boat racing in Ottawa in an episode that aired just in the past few weeks. So for Fort Frances to land this event is a big deal, indeed.
First and foremost, it comes in the dead of winter—a time when the area is dependent largely on minor hockey tournaments to draw people in for weekend visits.
Secondly, the hope among local club members is that those who come here to either participate in—or watch—the ice dragon boat racing will return in the summer for its annual festival on the waters of the upper Rainy River.
Our area benefits immensely from hosting major events. It's no easy task, of course, but we're fortunate to have clubs and dedicated volunteers who work so diligently to organize and successfully stage them.