Brier pins in short supply because of COVID-19

Madeline Emond shows off her 2020 Tim Hortons Brier pin March 3, 2020.

A coveted tradition is in short supply at the Brier.

Brier pins, a symbol of the annual games that are popular with die-hard fans, are tough to get right now because the final two shipments from China were cancelled. It happened just weeks ago because COVID-19, the new coronavirus disease, shut down the factory where the pins are made.

Still, the pins are worth lining up for.

Madeline Emond has spent the past three days trying to get hers; she says the lines have been so long she came 45 minutes ahead of time on Tuesday afternoon.

"The lines are crazy. If you don’t come an hour before you won’t get one. You just won’t get one." She says. "I said 'I'm forfeiting my lunch to get one today,' and I got one!"

The pins are important for many curling fans. People travel from all over the country, and from around the world, to see the games live. The pins are bought, traded, and used as mementos of their time at each of the games.

This year, there are only 550 pins available for the thousands of fans who have flocked to the Brier. Those that are available were brought in back in November and sold online ahead of the games.

To give everyone a fair chance to get one, officials are only giving out twenty before each of the three daily draws start. No one is allowed to get more than one at a time.

Emond says that she usually buys one for her best friend, with whom she goes to the games.

"I might have to forfeit my lunch tomorrow too!" Emond jokes.

Officials say they’re encouraging people to buy the pins online in the future, which can be then picked up at the games.