Rutabagas, so says the always popular Farmer’s Almanac, are a biennial root vegetable planted in mid-summer and allowed to mature in the cool, crisp autumn air.
They are often confused with turnips. They are called “swedes” in Europe and “neeps” in Scotland. Sometimes they’re called Swedish turnips.
Turnips are much smaller than rutabagas, which are the size of grapefruit. Turnips have lighter skin while their cousin the rutabaga has a smooth, waxy cover. Rutabagas are tough to peel because of that waxy skin.
Which makes the root vegetable perfect for a fundraising game of rutabaga bowling.
The annual event held at and hosted by the Armstrong branch of the Royal Canadian Legion attracted 19 teams of four, or 76 rutabaga bowlers, on the weekend of Sept. 16.
Finding their rutabaga rhythm was the Armstrong team of Cari and Chuck Graystone, and Al and Donna Bauer, who won the 2023 tournament with 166 points.
Teams of four individual bowlers hurl their veggie down a concrete lane about two-to-three feet wide, and about 15-to-20 feet long. The goal is like five-pin bowling, knock down five pins at the end of the lane. The more pins knocked down, the more points a team scores.
The “pins” are two-litre pop bottles with a bit of water added to give the plastic pin some weight.
There were three round-robin games for each team with the top squads advancing.
No bowlers were intentionally hit with a rutabaga, always a plus.
Rutabaga bowling is an annual fundraiser for the Armstrong Legion.