Port Hardy—In what was arguably the biggest spectacle on the North Island during the past 50 years, the Big Community Event went off in grand fashion and without a hitch.
“I was blown away by the turnout — I was overwhelmed by it,” said Carol Dirom, who, with husband Bruce, owns Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish Inc.
It’s estimated more than 2,000 people showed at the Port Hardy Civic Centre to take part in the event, which was all part of the CBC show, the Big Decision, that could save the distressed Hardy Buoys.
The Big Decision uses stars from its hit show, The Dragons’ Den, to work with struggling, but established Canadian businesses to offer advice and maybe even cash to invest — if certain criteria are met.
In Carol’s case, she worked with Arlene Dickinson and was tasked organizing and hosting a community event that would draw attention to the North Island.
Based on that alone, Hardy Buoys would seem to be a shoo-in to win.
“I can’t really say what happened,” Carol told the Gazette Tuesday.
“We don’t have all the details yet, but it was positive (and) let’s just say Hardy Buoys will be around for a while yet.”
So will memories of the Big Event where more than 2,000 hot dogs were given away. As well, thousands of non-alcoholic drinks of all types were given free to thirsty members of the crowd.
In fact, all the food — which included platter after platter of candied, smoked salmon, salmon burgers, pizza and even some Asian food — was free.
As was the entertainment that included two local bands, a First Nations’ dance display, face-painting and an appearance by Clifton Murray.
More than 22 teams entered the Big Flavour Face Off, which saw that number whittled to eight for the final cook-off, which was won by two teams, Tasty Tam’s Pizza, and the Executives — a team of ladies sporting Dickinson’s red locks with the shock of white — which split the $5,000 prize. Both teams donated the money to local charities.
The food bank also did well and received more than 500-lbs of non-perishable food and $200 donated by folks at the event.
The event was vital in determining whether Hardy Buoys gets a rejuvenating jump start from Dickinson, who kept mum on what her decision will be.
“I’m still mulling it over to be honest with you and I’m not going to play my hand right here,” she said, moments before hopping into a car to leave the Civic Centre.“But I can tell you I’m very appreciative of the things they did do.”
Dickinson had high praise for the Diroms as well.
Bruce and Carol are highly professional, highly motivated, highly ethical business people and I have appreciated the efforts they made — they’ve done a lot of the things I asked them to do,” she said.
“Now I have just have to take closer look at some of the numbers and take a closer look at what the future looks like so I can make my decision.”
At the end of the day Sunday, Dickinson said she was blown away by what Carol and the North Island pulled off.
“This is an amazing community and you should be proud to live here,” she said.
“I have travelled far and wide and have been all around the world and I have never seen the spirit I’ve seen right here in Port Hardy.”
But Carol said she wasn’t surprised by the turnout.
“There was never a doubt in my mind, I envisioned exactly what I’m seeing right now,” she said from the stage, overlooking the crowd.
“There’s never a doubt in my mind that we as a community can do anything when we put our minds to it,” she said.
“So, let’s not stop today, keep the momentum going — we’re not the only business on the North Island that has its share of struggles and if we can all help our friends and neighbours we can accomplish a lot.”
The Big Decision begins airing in March, and the Hardy Buoys segment airs April 2 and there are plans to put it on the big screen at the Civic Centre. More on that in an upcoming Gazette as details become available.