Wednesday, May 20, 2015


That was one helluva week! Pinball all week from Monday through to Friday! For those that were not in the know... Well, ya missed out! Handlebar recently hosted Toronto's first pinball festival, the Beer & Ball Festival, from May 11 to May 15, featuring a solid line-up of several pinball machines, tournament, and music!
 I attended the festival a few times throughout the week. As much as I wanted to go everyday, that's a pretty big commitment, especially when I had bigger commitments... like seeing the new MAD MAX movie! I did drop by early in the week on Sunday afternoon to lend a hand setting up and testing the pinball machines in addition to snagging a few pictures of the machines before the crowds starting taking up the venue throughout the week.
The festival's line-up consisted of Jungle Lord, the current resident of Handlebar, as well as White Water, The Simpsons Pinball Party, Time Machine, and Pin-Up.
Tables were provided by my buddy Dan of the Guelph Pinball Club and every machine was in top-notch condition. The Time Machine that Dan brought was quite a fine example. The machine was outfitted with LEDs which made the colourful artwork really pop.
The standard orange alpha-numeric display was replaced with a really nice blue LED display that replicates the alpha-numeric style while also cutting down on energy usage.
Monday was the official beginning of the festival and I stopped by to check out the first day. I was also curious to see how busy a bar could be on a Monday night. As it turned out, it can be pretty busy!
There was a decent crowd at Handlebar for the festival, many people having a few beers and a few games of pinball. Monday's tournament machine was the EM Add-A-Ball classic, Pin-Up. My buddy Joe got the high score early on in the night, racking up a very impressive 95,000 points! Many tried to dethrone him but none were successful. Joe won the inaugural Beer & Ball tournament! Yeah Joe!

I came back on Wednesday night and the crowd was just as hopping as Monday night. I had some reservations that the first night would be busy then things would taper off until Thursday or Friday but even Wednesday had a decent turnout. I ran into a couple of folks from the Toronto Pinball Crew and, as always, it was good to see them! Wednesday night's tournament table was Jungle Lord... Seems that I maybe should have dropped by on Tuesday! Jungle Lord is my absolute nemesis. Back during the Pinball Sundays tournament, Jungle Lord knocked me out of the final tournament in the first round. It was merciless! I did go on to win that tournament through sheer determination and selecting Space Shuttle for every round I played in. 
Click the picture to get the full story of my Pinball Sunday battle!
I tried my hand at besting Jungle Lord during the Beer & Ball Festival but it is just a beast that I cannot tame. Even with the advice given to me, stay in the upper playfield and knock down the Tiger targets, I just could not avoid that perilous center ramp. I tried not once but twice to take down the beast but alas I came up quite short. One day I will crush you, Jungle Lord...
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it out to the final night on Friday but I can only imagine how good of a night it was! I would like to say thank you to Handlebar for being the gracious host of the first ever Beer & Ball Festival and to Dan for providing some awesome machines! It was a good time, not a long time! With all the buzz I saw surrounding it, maybe we will get another pinball festival in our future! If we do, you know that Bumper City will be covering it!

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