2018 Chamber of Commerce Awards

Awards for 2018 were presented to businesses, agencies and organizations in the High Prairie and Area Chamber of Commerce service area.

In no particular order of significance, these are the awards as presented October 20th, 2018 at the Awards Night and Gala in High Prairie. Photos of the awards can be seen at South Peace News.

For 2018, the Chamber accepted nominations with no fixed categories. Nominations were through ballot boxes at High Prairie businessess and office, and through email to the Chamber. The Chamber of Commerce extends best wishes to all nominees and thanks our sponsors: Tolko Industries, Town of High Prairie, Loon River First Nation Truck Stop, South Peace News and ATB Financial.

The following are the winners and a brief description of the business as delivered through speeches at the Awards Night. Congratulations to all winners and nominees!

Tourism Award – EC Bar Ranch Adventures
Lyndon and Denise Drefs have become well known throughout northern Alberta for their many farm related tourist attractions. Over the past ten years, the Drefs have taken the mantra of diversifying agricultural operations to a new level with exceptional experiences for our community to enjoy.
To date, EC Bar Ranch Adventures has a corn maze, slip and slide, toboggan hill, trail riding, hay rides, horse and pony rides, picnic area and ranch house for indoor parties and events. These attractions bring families from all over the Peace region as the Drefs use traditional and social media platforms and word-of-mouth to advertise their activities. They have a presence at our Trade show as well as others in the region. Their Flash Light Night generates one of the largest turnouts of any event in our community, historically around 1000 people.
The Drefs are developing their operation slowly as time and resources permit and we are looking forward to their next idea coming to life. They are a great example of what a tourism operation can bring in recognition to High Prairie and area.

Heart & Soul Award – Glamour and Gear
This award is presented to an entrepreneur who has poured her heart and soul into developing her business. Tracy Sherkawi started with 500 square feet of retail space in 2005 and has since expanded to 10,000 square feet in her new location. She has continuously evolved and grown her product lines to be successful through many changes in the economy. Her well thought out business decisions have allowed her to manage steady and significant growth and ultimately the move into an historically important building in our downtown core.
Glamour and Gear provides a local option for a wide variety of products that are important to our community. Her staff is friendly and helpful. Tracy is very active in the community, supporting many initiatives with two terms previously served as our Chamber’s President.

Resilience Award – Pin Cushion Boutique
This award is presented to Jennifer Woodcock of the Pin Cushion Boutique. Last year, a devastating fire swept through the Pin cushion, and Jennifer had to make a hard decision – should she take the insurance payout and walk away from her dream or work through a year long process to rebuild her shop and business. We all know how hard decisions like this are. But tonight we would like to show our appreciation to Jennifer and her staff for staying the course. The Pin cushion boutique is a store with many beautiful items for your home as well a helpful staff to ensure your needs are met.

General Retailing – H&S Dollar Store
This award is presented to H & S Dollar Store for filling the need in our community for crafts supplies, household goods, birthday supplies and just about anything else you need. Customers come from all over northern Alberta for the selection of this store. And the comments made by your customers show their loyalty. H & S Dollar Store, with its massive inventory, has become the ‘Michaels of High Prairie’ for the crafting enthusiast. And the go-to place from birthdays, Hallowe’en, Christmas, Easter and all other events.

Youth Employer Award – Freson Bros.
Freson Bros has received award after award from this Chamber for their community spirit, their best business award, their length of service in High Prairie, their donations to any community event and just about any other measure of success that you can think of. But one little known fact that we want to highlight tonight, is the Youth Employment that Freson Bros provides to our community. Many families here tonight have had family members that worked as teenagers at IGA. Working at their first job has taught these teens reliability, customer service skills, and as they started to receive paychecks, financial responsibility. So thanks to Freson Bros. so starting our teens on the road to being successful adults.

Health & Wellness Award – Shift Yoga Studio
The Shift Yoga Studio, owned and operated by Lindsey Fairfield, is a new business in High Prairie. This business provides a healthy fitness opportunity to High Prairie residents and we are hoping that it proves to be a success. Customers who nominated this business are already showing a loyalty to The Shift.

Services Award – Harrison Plumbing
Harrison Plumbing, owned and operated by Cory Harrison, for the past year and a half, came along at just the right time. Our former go-to appliance repair person had just closed up shop and there was no one in High Prairie to call. But to fill that space, Harrison Plumbing opened. This business has filled a niche that sometimes we don’t even know we are lacking – until we need him. So thank you to Cory.

Supportive Financial Institution Award – ATB Financial
When the Chamber asked for nominations for businesses in our community, we received many customer’s comments. But what was totally unexpected was a financial institution that didn’t nominate themselves, or just one customer. We received an email with four great nominations of four great businesses in High Prairie. And not just the name of the business, but a complete explanation of why that business deserves an award. Many of the business descriptions you heard tonight are what ATB said about their business customers. And I for one am overwhelmed that a financial institution would go that extra mile to ensure their customers are recognized as great business.
So although Royal Bank supported our Gala and is here tonight, and we thank them, ATB supported their businesses. We are pleased to make this award to the most supportive Financial Institution.

Undiscovered Gem Award – Hair House
This is an award for a business that quietly goes about their business and many people do not even know they exist. And so when the customer’s nominations started to come in for Hair House, I, and others, had to ask where is Hair House? And so I found out that Analise Plant had been in business for quite a while and her customers want you to know she has exceptional customer service and is a great hair stylist. (And for those still asking, it is beside the Healing Waters health food store.)
Please join me in showing our appreciation.

Non-Profit Award – High Prairie Municipal Library
This award is presented to the High Prairie Municipal Library for their excellence in children and teen’s programming. Many awards and citations have been presented already to our local library for this, but the chamber feels it cannot be said too often what a fantastic job our library does. In a time when digital seems to be the end-all, be-all, our library has had no problem joining the digital revolution. It has computer stations, free wi-fi, up-to-date courses on interesting topics and still manages to bring in the latest best sellers. But the one thing that is talked about the most in the community, is the children’s programs.

Food & Beverage Award
This award is presented to Eva’s Café and her owner Eva Dryblak.
For as long as I can remember eating out, Eva has been part of the experience. Whether at the Family Inn, the Northern Lites, or Eva’s Café, you could rest assured you would receive excellent service.
Eva is an example of an entrepreneur who came to Canada from Poland, and through hard work and thriftiness, brought her family to High Prairie and eventually started her own business.
Eva made a choice to live and work in High Prairie when she could have gone many other places. And for that, your customers have said, loud and clear, they love your food, your friendly staff, your great service and your welcoming environment. And they especially love your butter tarts.