Rain didn't deter thousands from enjoying the 13th annual Industry Appreciation Day in Kenai.
“And remember, it never rains on Industry Appreciation Day!” boasted Jack Brown, co-founder of Industry Appreciation Day, as he promoted this year’s coming event. For the 12 year history of the unique celebration which originated in Kenai, indeed it had never rained. Many years were threatening, with soggy days before and after the event, but when Industry Appreciation Day dawned, invariably mother nature came through and the last summer warmth shined down on the thousands of families that traditionally turn out to enjoy free food and fun activities and show their support for the three major economic forces of the Peninsula; the Hydro-carbon industry, fishing, and tourism. “I think it was because I lied. I said it was the 14th year trying to avoid the luck of the 13th, but some one up there knew I lied and it was the 13th Industry Day and it did drizzle pretty good,” confessed Brown.
The wet weather didn’t seem to diminish the turn out however, as thousands stood with slickers and umbrellas to feast on grilled Kenai Wild Salmon, fresh 4-H barbeque pork, water melon, hot dogs, hamburgers, and chips. Hundreds of kids gathered for a chance at winning a new bike by being the first to get into a frozen t-shirt.
The day began with a greeting from Borough Mayor John Williams and the introduction of U.S. Senator Ted Stevens who was honored with the Don Gilman Award for Service to Community. As the burgers and salmon started coming off the grill, Kenai Mayor Pat Porter announced the winner of the traditional Industry Appreciation Day Chili Cook Off, “This year the vote was unanimous, both the judges pick and peoples choice award went to the Chili of the Kenai Lions Club,” announced Porter.
Others selected this year by the Industry Appreciation Day committee for special recognition were the Peninsula Oilers for Outstanding Support Business in Tourism, the Aspen Hotel for Outstanding Business in Tourism, and Derotha Ferraro of Homer as Outstanding Individual in Tourism. For the Commercial Fishing Industry, Fred West owner of the Tustumena Smokehouse was chosen as the Outstanding Fish Processor, Industry Support Organization, Vagabond Inn owned by Pat and Dorothy Cunningham, and Gary Fandrei, executive director of the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Assoc. for the Individual Contribution award.
Bill Popp announced that for the oil and gas industry each year the committee recognized the company that they feel has made a strong contribution and commitment to developing and growing the industry based in the Cook Inlet. This year the award went to Aurora Gas, “One of the new so called small independent companies that have come on the scene in Cook Inlet to develop new natural gas and oil reserves.” The Outstanding Oil & Gas Support Company this year was Peak Oilfield Service Company, and the Outstanding Oil & Gas Individual was awarded to Dale White of Big G Electric in recognition of White’s commitment to his profession, his community, and family.
One final “Special award” was presented this year on behalf of the Industry Appreciation Day committee to recognize the contribution of the 2006 Arctic Winter Games. Presenting the award to general manager Tim Dillon and Host Society president Dale Bagley, Kenai Borough Mayor John Williams said, “This year the committee would like to recognize the thousands of volunteers who made the 2006 Arctic Winter Games such a huge success for Alaska and the Kenai Peninsula. Five years ago, Mayor Dale Bagley proposed the idea of the Kenai Peninsula Borough bidding for the opportunity to host the 2006 Games. With the help and support of hundreds of community volunteers we won the bid and six months ago thousands of athletes, cultural performers, and coaches from seven circumpolar nations enjoyed a week of spirited, peaceful, competition. Without the dedicated volunteers the 2006 Games would not have succeeded.”
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.