With about 3,000 people moseying down to the fairgrounds, Ukee Days was bigger than ever before; but small-town community spirit overflowed all the same.
Ucluelet’s director of parks and recreation Abby Fortune said it truly did feel like a homecoming.
“We tagged it a homecoming and it really did bring everyone back, young and old. It was really nice to see everyone out enjoying themselves. I must have gotten 100 hugs over the weekend,” she said, noting that 100 West Coasters threw on the yellow volunteer T-shirt, stepped up to the plate, and hammered out a volunteer shift.
“The heart of the community festival has not changed over the years and a big part of that is because of the volunteers. They are everything. We could not do this without the support of the volunteers and the sponsors. They are monumental,” said Fortune, who has 25 years of Ukee Days experience under her belt. The first Ukee Days event took place in 1974.
“I honestly feel it was one of our most successful Ukee Days ever and my team just rocked it,” she went on to say.
Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce took on the challenge of hosting the beer gardens this year after the Army Navy & Air Force Veterans Club relinquished the commitment. Chamber manager Seika Anderson said it took 25 volunteers selling tickets and beverages to get the job done.
“The community spirit was high and we were busy. The last keg blew out at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday,” said Anderson.
Ucluelet Brewing Company owner Dennis Morgan was at the fairgrounds early the next day with fresh kegs.
“I think there was a pent up need for a good social gathering. It’s been gone too long,” said Morgan, who also provided an empty keg and prizes for the inaugural Keg Toss competition.
Rounding off three days of jammed packed fun was the crowning of Ucluelet’s 2022 Community Awards.Lucia and Geoff Lyons earned the accolade for long-term service to the parks and recreation department. Citizen of the Year award went to Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Timothy Masso, Youth of the Year was awarded to Pani Ayoubizadeh, Deb Webb is Ucluelet’s Volunteer of the Year, and Mint Cleaning Products was voted Ucluelet’s Business of the Year.
“We are so grateful and honoured. I think the beauty of Ucluelet is the support you get here. If we had started this business in a city, I don’t think we would have made it. We started it here and the town just rallied for us and bought our products. Everyone is just so willing to support new businesses here,” said founders Monika Scott and Robyn Pook, who started the eco-friendly cleaning product line in July 2020.
“To be alongside such amazing businesses in Ucluelet… Kudos to them too. We are shocked,” they said.
Fortune gave a shout out to Surfrider Pacific Rim for streamlining the festival waste. Laurie Hannah, Surfrider’s chapter co-ordinator, told the Westerly that most of the waste was organics.
“All the work we are doing with switching from single-use plastics is working. It makes me really hopeful to see that it’s making an impact,” said Hannah.
Local Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock riders Rachelle Cole and Rick Geddes get to cash in all the empties.