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Small Town Loves Bone Throwing Game
If you're looking for something completely different to do on summer vacation, look no farther than Macklin, Sask.
The western Canadian border community of about 1,200 hosts what's believed to be the largest "Bunnock" tournament in the world. Bunnock is a sort of cross between horseshoes and lawn bowling played with the pastern bones (bone between the hoof and fetlock) of horses. It's believed to have originated with the Russian cavalry and was brought to Macklin by the area's German-Russian settlers in the early 1900's.
The game had been nearly forgotten until three years ago. That's when townsfolk organized the first-ever world Bunnock (spelling's their own) tournament.
"We've brought the game back from near oblivion in a big way," say&Macklin mayor John Feser.
Last summer, 128 teams of four players apiece - most from Macklin or with relatives in Macklin - competed for cash and prizes of up to $2,500 in the first tournament. In 1995, more than 200 teams are expected for the Aug. 4-6 championship.
The community has become so enthusiastic about Bunnock it even erected a 35ft. high by 16-ft. wide tourist information booth shaped like a Bunnock bone on the edge of town.
Part of the attraction of the game is that it can be played by young and old alike, Feser says. "Our youngest contestant last year was 6 and our oldest was 85," he says.
The game is played with a set of 52 pas-tern bones. Twenty white bones are lined up opposite 20 other white bones on a 35-ft. court. A blue "guard bone" is placed at both ends of the row of white bones and eight red bones. The object of the game is to use eight red throwing bones to knock over guard bones first, then white bones. The first team to knock down all the white bones wins.
Leo and Mary Baier, of Baiers Boutique in Macklin, make the painted bunnock sets. They get the bones from an Alberta horse slaughtering plant. Sets sell for $150.
The Baiers have received orders for Bunnock sets from "everywhere there are people of German-Russian ancestry," Mary says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Macklin Bunnock Committee, Box 326 Sask., Canada SOL 2CO (ph 306 753-2333; fax 753-2676).


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1995 - Volume #19, Issue #3