Once every month, the P.A. Legion building hosts a cribbage tournament open to all members of the public. The friendly competition generally takes place on Sundays starting at around 1 p.m.
“These players that are coming here all play a lot of crib, and … a lot of people like to do stuff like that on a Sunday,” branch sports chair Wes Mathiason said.
“I set it up for 1 o’clock or so … Here, a lot of people go to church on Sunday. So they can go to church, do their stuff and then come back here and spend the afternoon or part of the evening here, because we’re only open ’til 6 on Sunday.”
Tickets cost $5 each. After signing in, participants can look forward to a full afternoon of no-holds barred cribbage.
While there is a small cash prize for the winner of the tournament, the event is not known for its fierce competitiveness.
“This isn’t hockey or football. This is cribbage,” Mathiason said with a smile.
“Some people are very serious. But most of us are laidback and don’t get too excited about anything.”
The Legion branch makes little money off the cribbage tournament. Aside from ticket sales, the bulk of funds come from food and drink sales.
Any profit the club does make at the monthly event tends to go towards covering travel costs for the house cribbage team.
“If they end up going to provincials or zones or districts, this way our members can go there and … the ones that are eligible, they get their way paid there,” Mathiason said.
“It’s not much, but … at least it pays for the guys anyway.”
Raising money has been a greater priority for the Legion recently as it seeks funds to finance badly-needed roof repairs. Members have been coming up with a variety of ideas to help raise the necessary cash.
This isn’t hockey or football. This is cribbage. - Wes Mathiason
One of the most successful initiatives came from a younger member of the new executive, who suggested bringing an Elvis impersonator. The show, which took place last Saturday, was a huge success for the P.A. Legion branch, bringing in an impressive $2,500.
“This place was full to the rafters,” Mathiason said. “Downstairs, I think we had 135 for supper and we had 150 for the show and everything combined, and if we’d had 150 supper and entertainment tickets, we’d have sold them all.
He added, “A lot of stuff that we’re doing is trying to raise funds for the roof fund, and boy, we could sure use it because it’s going to cost us lots of money.”
If there’s one thing the branch currently has in abundance, it’s a sense of camaraderie -- something that members are eager to share with the wider community.
For that reason, they have intensified efforts to spread the word that the Legion is open to anyone looking for a pleasant hangout.
“Gary (Renaud), our president, he’s written up some letters for the Legion we’ve taken to the city police, penitentiary, jail, city, some of the big outfits, and we’re telling them to come here, because this is a safe environment,” Mathiason said.
“You don’t have to worry about people accosting you when you walk out the door or anything like that. This is a safe place to come, and a friendly environment.”