Yards in Bloom handed out its awards this past weekend to honour just a few of the many people who have taken it upon themselves to create a more attractive community.
The top award – the Darm Crook Overall Winner – was presented to Thess Cruzpe-Cooper.
The winner of that award is selected from all first-place winners in the amateur and masters classes in the six areas that the town is divided into for Yards in Bloom.
The People’s Choice Award was won by Jane Balsillie.
A number of presenters praised Yards in Bloom for its efforts over the years.
Crook, generally recognized as one of the top gardeners in Hay River and renowned as a lily breeder, congratulated Yards in Bloom and previous efforts to improve the look of the town.
“When we first moved here, most of the yards in the back were weed patches,” he said. “There were even some front lawns that had no grass, but only weeds.”
Now, Crook said the yards in Hay River can be compared to any community of the same size in southern Canada.
Mayor Brad Mapes said he is proud of everything that’s happening with the Hay River Beautification Committee, which sponsors Yards in Bloom.
“Our yards are what showcases our community,” said Mapes.
Hay River North MLA R.J. Simpson congratulated everyone, not just the winners.
“Seeing the yards around town is an inspiration,” he said. “It’s nice to just drive around and see the effort that everyone puts in.”
Lorie Steinwand, the co-ordinator of Yards in Bloom, said 156 yards participated in the contest this year.
“Neighbours talk amongst neighbours and they try to encourage each other to continue, not just for the program but just for themselves in general and their spaces,” said Steinwand. “They want to beautify their spaces that they live in. They start with one pot and end up with five or six the next year, and it just grows and progresses as they learn and understand the soil components in the North, which is a little different than in southern provinces.”
Hay River Yards in Bloom has existed for about 11 years.
It was preceded in its efforts by the no-longer-existing Hay River Horticultural Society, which began in the early 1970s.
The first-place and second-place award winners this year in the various areas of the town were:
Vale Island – first Bev Gibb, second Rosie Wallington
Bridge to Downtown – first Sandra Arsenault, second Gladys Wright
Downtown to Baptist Church – first Cindy Haley, second Eileen Bolt
553/Industrial – first Doreen Scheller, second Marla Mateus
Baptist Church to welcome sign – first Gary Wilson, second Chuck and Dorothy Lirette
East Miron Drive to town limits – first Helen Green and Andrew Cassidy, second Kerri and Bruce Domes
Vale Island – first Karen Felker, second Yvonne Maurice
Bridge to Downtown – first Rachel Pegg, second Jennifer Webb
Downtown to Baptist Church – first Dan and Marilyn Korotash, second Ross and Mona Potter
553/Industrial – first Rebecca Aylward, second Roy and Bonnie Crowther
Baptist Church to welcome sign – first Bill and Susan Warren, second Sharon Dragon
East Miron Drive to town limits – first Marie Kelly, second Ruth Lafferty
In the category of Blooming with No Space – for beginners, new residents and those with limited space – the winner was Annie Beaulieu.
The Creative Community Container Award, sponsored by the Hay River Chamber of Commerce, named first-place and second-place winners for the whole town. The Supported Living Centre took first place and the Hay River Metis Government Council was in second place.
That category includes restaurants, cafes, licensed premises, hotels, large offices or businesses, parks, schools or youth groups, and community, club or church gardens.