Hintonburg’s sleepy Elmdale Lawn Bowling club will be transformed into the hippest spot in the city on Wednesday when Lawn Summer Nights returns to the capital for the first of four nights of mingling, munchies, booze and bowling in support of Cystic Fibrosis Canada.
The second annual fundraiser, which draws a who’s who of young Ottawa professionals from the political, media and business spheres, doubled in size this year and sold out in less than 24 hours.
“We have a bunch of returning teams, and we attribute much of our growth to word of mouth from our event last year,” says organizer Meredith Taylor, noting 40 teams of four have signed up at a cost of $400 per team.
Organizers are also selling 25 spectator tickets each night at $25 a pop and they have no doubt those too will sell out.
“I think this event has been so successful because it brings something so completely new and different to Ottawa summers,” Taylor says.
“Its unique mix of fun, fundraising and education is one aspect, but it also brings together the Hill community – of every political stripe – as well as the CF community and the local Ottawa community, which allows the participants to meet new people while also enjoying time with their friends.”
Lawn Summer Nights is also breathing new life into a game generally associated with granny and gramps. While a few golden-agers are on hand to protect the pitch and offer tips for tossing those biased bowls, participants are for the most part decades away from retirement.
They come dressed polo chic or in creatively themed costumes, like last year’s winners, The Big Lawnbowlskis who donned bathrobes like The Dude. Participants meander the manicured greens networking and sipping the night’s signature cocktail while listening to 20s and 30s era music and snacking on candy.
Raffles, door prizes and rewards for fundraising and creativity add to the festive atmosphere and there’s plenty of time to practice the gentlemanly game, a sort of cross between curling and bocce ball that involves rolling an unevenly weighted and oddly shaped ball across a rink of short, manicured lawn, so that it stops as close as possible to the little white ball or jack.
And, of course, there are prizes for the winners of the tournament, which takes place over the course of four Wednesday evenings in July beginning this week.
Lawn Summer Nights launched five years ago as a tribute to Eva Markvoort, a Vancouver woman who lost her battle with the genetic lung disease a year after attending the inaugural event. She was 25.
The brainchild of Duncan Gillespie, Graham Dalik and Andrew Dalik who were inspired by her struggle, has since expanded to six other Canadian cities.
To date, the tournament has raised $565,000. Last year’s Ottawa event alone raised $35,000, more than triple the goal of $10,000.
Cystic fibrosis is a fatal lung disease that results in a build-up of thick mucus in the lungs and digestive tract that causes severe respiratory problems and makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients. There are an estimated 4,000 Canadians living with the disease. There is no cure.