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The Whitecourt Communities in Bloom competition came back in a beautiful way after last year’s absence. Residents worked hard on their properties spending hours upon hours minding their gardens, pots, and water retention to showcase their green thumbs.
A total of 37 nominations were received from the community and from those, the following first place winners were crowned. Florence and Gerald Fluney (residential front and back yard), Jeannine and Dan Steinke (front yard only), Bill and Laurie Locke (mobile home) and Spruceview Lodge (non-profit organization). The commercial/industrial category was shared by the Kanata Hotel and Mountain West Services.
At the annual Communities in Bloom barbecue and awards ceremony held on July 27, the winners from the residential and non-profit categories were awarded beautiful hand-crafted stepping stones to proudly display in their gardens made by members of the Society of Whitecourt Arts Council. The commercial/industrial winners received an etched glass trophy, and all category participants received a colour print from some of the pictures taken during judging as a way of saying thank you for participating.
Two “honour awards” were also presented at the banquet to honour the commitment of local volunteers who spearheaded beautification efforts for two organizations. The winners were Friends of Whitecourt for its work on the hospital grounds, and the Community Lunchbox for enhancements made to its property.
Local judge, Donna Reiman, has been involved with the Whitecourt Communities in Bloom Committee for roughly five years and said that this year’s response has been very good. “There have been new people coming in which is always great. We’ve worked hard at talking to new people and showing them that, yes, you can compete. You don’t have to be professional. If you enjoy doing this then come be a part of it!” Donna also mentioned that residents are encouraged to nominate themselves. Everyone can be part of the fun and festivities.
Another part of the competition involves Whitecourt with the National Communities in Bloom judges, Stephen Jewczyk (St. John’s, NL) and Lucie Gagne (Boucherville, QC) in town. They were given a tour by local committee members and saw several sites including the Forest Interpretive Centre, Rotary Park, and downtown.
Stephen is in his first year as a national judge and said he’s getting a good appreciation for what Canada is all about. “We are all proud of where we’re from and when you start doing this, where you see the community pride in other communities across this country, you say, wow, we live in a great country!” Speaking of Whitecourt, Stephen said, “I have to say, in this community, its lovely what you have here.”
Fellow judge Lucie Gagne, who is in her fifth year, echoed his sentiments. “I think Whitecourt is very neat and has a special landscape.” She also spoke of the local awards banquet they attended on Thursday, saying, “We were very impressed by the number of people who participated in the beautification contest. It’s great!”
The results from the national competition will be revealed September 13 to 17 in Ottawa. Whitecourt is competing alongside Bay Roberts, NL; South Huron, ON; and Stonewall, MB in the 4,501 to 15,000 population division.
Congratulations to all local winners and participants.