By John DeCoste
The Annapolis Valley Events and Sport Tourism Association (AVESTA) handed out its fourth annual awards at a Nov. 15 luncheon at the Old Orchard Inn.
The awards – and the organization – celebrate the achievements of Valley events and festivals, recognizing the important positive economic and social impacts these events and organizations bring to the region.
Awards were presented in four categories: Event Legacy, Sport Legacy, Venue of the Year and Event of the Year.
In the Event Legacy category, the winner was the Kingston Steer Barbecue and Village Fair, a community-based event in that community for the past 53 years.
The Steer Barbecue is a collaborative effort between the Kingston Lions Club, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 98 and the Kingston Village Commission.
The objective of the event has always been to provide a family-friendly experience with good food and excellent entertainment.
In 2012, close to 5,000 people attended activities such as a 5-kilometre road race, community breakfast, full steer BBQ dinner, musical entertainment, children’s activities and an evening dance.
Over $12,000 in profits was donated to community-based programs, local veterans and village beautification.
Other nominees in the Event Legacy category were the Tremont World’s Fair and the Kempt Shore Bluegrass Music Festival.
In the Sport Legacy category, the winner was the Gunn Baldursson Memorial Women’s Soccer Tournament, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this past summer with five local teams winning medals: two gold, two silver and one bronze.
The tournament was first held in 1988 as a memorial to Baldursson, an exceptional athlete, leader, scholar and musician who tragically lost her life in an auto collision on Nov. 26, 1987.
Baldursson, an Acadia student and a varsity soccer player, was a natural athlete with exceptional soccer skills. The tournament has always sought to instill her example of excellence to subsequent generations of female soccer players.
The tournament has attracted as many as 200 teams from the Atlantic provinces, across Canada – and at least once from Baldursson’s native Iceland. In 2010, it was one of four Canada-wide events featured as part of CBC’s Soccer Day in Canada.
The tournament has an annual budget of $35,000, with the proceeds, which generally average between $20,000-30,000, going toward the community-based men’s soccer program at Acadia.
Other nominees in the Sport Legacy category included the Riverview Spring Figure Skating Competition and the Digby Golf Classic.
In the Venue of the Year category, the winner was the St. Croix Recreational Complex in St. Croix, Hants County.
Since opening in 1978, the complex - which is owned, operated and maintained by the Municipality of West Hants and consists of two regulation fields, a clubhouse, dugouts and bleacher seating for 4,000 - has hosted a number of national events.
These include the Canadian Senior Men’s Fastpitch Championships in 1998 and 2004, the 2000 Canadian Midget Fastpitch Championships and the 2010 Canadian Junior Men’s Fastpitch Championships. At the latter event, more than 12,500 spectators attended the seven-day tournament.
This past summer, St. Croix played host to the Eastern Canadian Bantam Boys’ Fastpitch Championship, with eight teams taking part – two from Ontario, one from Quebec, one from New Brunswick and one from Newfoundland and Labrador.
Other finalists in the Venue of the Year category included Acadia University and the Annapolis Valley Exhibition Grounds in Lawrencetown.
In the Event of the Year category, the winner was the Nova Scotia 55+ Games hosted in Kings County in the fall of 2011. More than 400 participants from eight regions of the province took part in a variety of activities – some physically challenging, some mentally challenging and others that were just plain fun.
The event was an enormous success, thanks to the collaboration of community groups, the commitment of volunteers, and the enthusiasm of the participants, many of whom qualified to compete at the national 55+ Games held in Cape Breton.
Other nominees were the Atlantic Championship Masters Regatta, hosted by the Pisiquid Canoe Club in Windsor, and the Digby Dolphins Summer Swim Championship hosted this past summer.
The AVESTA executive welcomed as guest speaker for the ceremony elite Nova Scotia snowboarder Alexandra Duckworth, who began her athletic journey, to what she hopes will be a 2014 Olympic berth, at Ski Martock near Windsor.