Bowls: Festival Fours 'needs to continue'

Bring back the women. They could save the Festival Fours.

The annual tournament was started by the Kaituna club in 1953 as bowls' contribution to Dunedin's Festival Week.

The tournament used to last five days, and on the final day, the Dunedin Festival Queen would present the trophy to the winning team.

When the event was organised by the Kaituna club, female bowlers were allowed to enter the event as separate teams or part of a men's team.

When the Kaituna club went into recess 10 years ago, the Kaikorai club took over the mantle of running the event. No women have played for the past nine years.

The club was disappointed when only 24 teams entered this year's event, held at the weekend, and there were doubts about its future.

However, there was a positive feeling from those who took part. They want it to continue, and bowlers from other clubs gave Kaikorai committee members their ideas on how to improve it.

Club president Barry Craig has called a committee meeting for later this month to explore ways to improve its format. Tournament convener Peter Wilson told the Otago Daily Times that ''we are going to re-evaluate the date of the tournament, the format, mixed teams, and sponsorship.

''The tournament needs to continue and the Kaikorai club will try to rebuild it.''

Another way to increase numbers would be to accept entries from individuals, whom the club would put into teams.

''We have always accepted individual entries,'' Craig said.

''We have club members who wanted to play and would be keen to join composite teams. The club is always happy to put teams together.''

The event has always attracted entries from other centres and it was the same this year, with six teams coming from outside Dunedin. When the Festival Fours started in 1953, the attraction for bowlers was a guaranteed three days of bowls with a 25-end format and no time limit. In the modern era, bowlers like a faster format and those playing at the weekend were satisfied with two days of section play and a guaranteed six games. Games were limited to 18 ends with a 2hr 15min time limit. The standard in this year's event was high, but more entries will be needed next year if the event is to survive.