Fernie fantastic! Chamber’s annual Business Excellence awards celebrate success

There were 12 award recipients recognized at the sold-out event, held on October 12.

Black and white photo of Edge of the World team.

Sweet score! This year's Business of the Year award went to the team at Edge of the World, Fernie's stellar snowboard shop. — Photo courtesy Edge of the World - Fernie, BC/Facebook

Fernie’s annual 2023 Business Excellence awards, hosted by the Fernie Chamber of Commerce, were a sold-out extravaganza. Held on October 12 at the Best Western Fernie, the event was emceed by beloved local performer and host Sadie Rosgen.

Twelve award recipients were recognized at the gala celebration, including a local businessman who has left a lasting legacy in the community, a new play-based child care organization and a duo that creates fantastic floral arrangements for special occasions.

Read on to learn more about the winners of this year’s 2023 Fernie Business Excellence awards:

Fernie Business of the Year – Edge of the World

Owned by local snowboarding legend, Greg "G-Money" Barrow, Edge of the World has been in business in Fernie since 1999. If you’re looking for all things board related—snowboards, skateboards or paddleboards, this is the place for you. Beyond boards, the shop also stocks a full range of streetwear as well as goods and other cool stuff. Congratulations to the entire team at Edge of the World!

Owners of Wild Wapiti Playschool posed with award.

Thanks to the efforts of a trio of local moms, the Wild Wapiti Playschool is Fernie's newest childcare facility. — Photo courtesy Fernie Chamber of Commerce Facebook/vince.fpv

New Business of the Year – Wild Wapiti Playschool

The Wild Wapiti Playschool came about from the efforts of three Fernie friends and fellow moms, Laura, Allie and Dee. Dismayed to find out their local dayhome would be closing, this trio of ladies banded together to found the playschool which opened in January 2023. Centred around child-led, play-based education and outdoor play, the Wild Wapiti Playschool provides a nurturing and safe environment for young children up to age 5.

Community Tourism Achievement – Tunnel49

An adventure tourism company offering rafting and river excursions, Tunnel49 takes its name from the tunnel along Highway 3 between Fernie and Elko. Once part of the Great Northern Railway railbed, the tunnel is the only one built along the 49th parallel. The tunnel also signifies the intrepid and spirited nature of this adventure company, one that has grown to become one of the most respected tour operators in British Columbia.

Environmental Sustainability Award – Community Energy Association

The Community Energy Association is a non-profit organization mandated to raise local government awareness with respect to energy efficiency. Staff work in communities across British Columbia. The 8-person team centred in Fernie works in collaboration with the Fernie Chamber. Facilitating EV test drive events for local business owners, hosting e-mobility booths, and making “Gene”—the organization’s portable electric generator—available for local events are some of the ways this team is leading the sustainability movement in Fernie.

Close-up of award.

— Photo courtesy Twin Meadows Animal Rescue Society/Facebook

Community Group of the Year – Twin Meadows Animal Rescue Centre

Local stray animals are in good hands at the Twin Meadows Animal Rescue Centre. This non-profit organization made up of dedicated volunteers and animal lovers rescues and rehomes unwanted animals, feral cats, owner surrenders and more. The organization runs a foster network that helps to care for and rehabilitate pets, before placing them into loving, responsible homes.

Businessperson of the Year – Dennis Djonlich | Vogue Theatre

Congratulations to this year’s Businessperson of the Year, Dennis Djonlich. As owner of Fernie’s Vogue Theatre, Djonlich and his family are responsible for keeping local residents happily entertained with the latest blockbuster movies to hit the big screen.

Outstanding Customer Service Award – Island Lake Lodge

From the moment guests arrive at the gates to Island Lake Lodge, they are in for an unforgettable and unrivaled luxury experience. One of the top destinations for cat-skiing, Island Lake Lodge features over 7,000 private acres for backcountry exploration and adventure. A world-class wellness spa offers rest and rejuvenation, while the chef and kitchen team prepare delightfully vibrant and seasonal menus for guests. Congratulations to the entire team at Island Lake Lodge!   

Business Innovation Award – Stemhouse Floral Studio

“Flowers are for everyone,” say the owners of Stemhouse Floral Studio, Kealy Schulze and Katlyn Corak. This talented duo have been creating gorgeous floral arrangements for weddings, graduations, elopements and other special occasions in Fernie for the past two years. They’ve recently started offering holiday workshops where customers can learn how to create stunning wreath designs and centerpieces of their own.

Chamber Business Legacy Award – Mike Delich

Mike Delich is a well-known Fernie businessman, founding and operating the Fernie Lodging Company for over 34 years. Responsible for developing and operating many of the iconic buildings at Fernie Alpine Resort as well as property around the community, Delich has had a lasting impact on the region. 

Staff members from Eldho's grocery store posed with award.

Congratulations to staff and owners at Eldho's, Your Independent Grocer, voted as this year's Employer of the Year. — Photo courtesy Eldho's Your Independent Grocer/@vince.fpv

Employer of the Year – Eldho’s Your Independent Grocer

Great prices, excellent availability of hard-to-find items like ethnic and international foods and friendly staff always willing to help. Judging by some of the customer comments online, Fernie and area residents are very satisfied with the service at this small-town grocery store. Congratulations to the management team and staff at Eldho’s Your Independent Grocer!

People’s Choice Award – Fernie Fox Hotel

The Fernie Fox Hotel is an independently-owned, family-run business and greatly values sustainability and innovation. Aiming to become B.C.’s most sustainable hotel by 2025, the business has begun a number of different initiatives to attain this goal, the most recent being the installation of a solar panel system to supply the hotel with clean energy.

Citizen of the Year – Anita Palmer

Anita Palmer currently serves on the Fernie Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. She’s an active and devoted supporter of local hockey groups, having served as president, vice-president, treasurer, chairperson and manager for the Fernie Minor Hockey Association and East Kootenay Minor Hockey. 

Julie Matchett

Julie Matchett is a writer and content coordinator for KPI Media. She ranks as a 7 on the Introversion vs. Extraversion scale out of 100, which might help to explain why she chose a career of quiet contemplation as opposed to public speaking. View all of Julie Matchett’s articles

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