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Calgary Surge players take on the Calgary Stampede Midway

What happens when professional basketball players are pitted against Harry the Horse in a battle of classic Midway games?

Visitors to the Calgary Stampede during the Family Day afternoon on July 9 found out, as players from the Calgary Surge took on the Stampede’s mascot in a winner-take-all matchup.

Admon Gilder, Deon Ejim, and Guy Edi shot hoops, played the water game, whacked-some-moles, and pitted their throwing accuracy against plates—all classic fairground games that are at the Stampede this year.

“A lot of the games, they make it hard for you to win, but if you’re persistent about it, I think you’ll end up winning one of those prizes,” said Ejim.

At one point during the afternoon, the players went head-to-head with Harry in a plate-smashing throw off, which saw the horse in the lead for a prize. Ultimately, it ended in a Surge victory after some powerful and accurate throws by Edi.

Of all the games, the players tested with their skills, hoops ended up being the hardest, owing to slightly different basket sizes than a regulation hoop and backboards that spring instead of dampening shots.

“I think I was gonna go look and find out what’s wrong with those hoops because I don’t really miss shots like that,” laughed Ejim.

“It was still fun though. I need to go into the gym because that kind of hurt my feelings missing that many shots.”

Games designed to test skills, sometimes in unexpected ways

Scooter Korek, vice president of Client Services for North American Midway Entertainment, said that taking on the Midway games sometimes requires its own set of skills.

“I’ll tell you right now, the most important part is go home and practice all winter. Come down here and win yourself a lot of teddy bears,” Korek said.

He said that the vast majority of Midway games are based on skill, and some games are harder than others—but sometimes in unexpected ways that make for good entertainment.

The hanging game, where players are tested to hang from a pull-up bar for several minutes, was one of those games that Korek said would pose a challenge to people with more muscles instead of less.

“I see younger people winning that game all the time. Bigger built people with big strong muscle arms, often I don’t see them win that game because they gotta hold up so much body weight,” Korek said.

Korek said that one of the games that is a good easy game for people who haven’t practiced their fairground skills is the birthday game.

“You bet on your birthday, and if comes if the block rolls on your birthday, then you win a prize. So as simple as that, and takes very little skill,” he said.

Another easy game he said was the whack-a-mole, which also happened to be a favourite of Ejim.

“That’s just a plain old fun game. It just takes some hand-eye coordination, and guess what, you can be a winner pretty easily,” he said.

While whacking moles in itself is enjoyable, winning makes it sweeter.

“It just felt good because I won,” Ejim said.

“But outside of that, all the games have been fun so far, and the whole event’s been good. Nice representing the Calgary Surge.”