Owners of Fernie Distillers Jillian Rutherford and Andrew Hayden received the People’s Choice Award at the 2021 Business Excellence Awards in Fernie. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Owners of Fernie Distillers Jillian Rutherford and Andrew Hayden received the People’s Choice Award at the 2021 Business Excellence Awards in Fernie. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Record number of nominations at 2021 Fernie business awards

12 winners were announced at the awards on October 29

It wasn’t quite a return to normal, but the 2021 Fernie Business Excellence Awards was the closest thing to a gala from times of old (2019) as Fernie had seen in a while.

The raft of nominees was vast, with 491 business people, businesses and community groups held up by locals as worthy of winning awards – but alas there are only 12 awards to be given out.

Speaking at the awards on October 29, executive director of the Fernie Chamber of Commerce, Brad Parsell, said that given there were “literally hundreds of amazing businesses in the valley” he wished there were more awards to hand out.

Here are the winners for 2021:

  • Citizen of the year: Krista Turcasso
  • Chamber legacy award: Canyon Rafting Company
  • Fernie business of the year: Fernie Brewing Co.
  • Community tourism achievement: Fernie Trails Alliance
  • Employer of the year: Nupqu Resource Limited Partnership
  • Environmental Sustainability: Fernie Brewing Co.
  • Business innovation: Fernie Catering Co.
  • Businessperson of the year: Dave Morrison (Island Lake Lodge)
  • Community group of the year: Fernie Family Housing Society
  • New business of the year: Local Store
  • Outstanding customer service: Freshie’s Cafe
  • People’s choice award: Fernie Distillers

Winners were full of praise for all others nominees and grateful for the recondition that they received from the c0mmunity.

Manager of Freshie’s, Ben Ingle said that the award for outstanding customer service was a testament to their business practice.

“We try to make the people the whole point of everything, so it’s really nice the people have said something back,” he said.

Jillian Rutherford of Fernie Distillers reflected on the significance of the award given the circumstances of the last few years, with the people’s choice award being decided by popular vote.

“It’s been a really hard year and a half, and the fact that the people have voted for us is incredibly humbling.”

READ MORE: Fernie Mayor receives first poppy of 2021

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