INNISFAIL - The town’s annual business awards are back this month after a two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
And the celebration’s return will arrive with a more relaxed atmosphere designed to encourage attendees to mingle, reconnect and network.
The revamped gala for the annual Innisfail & District Chamber of Commerce Business Awards will be held Friday, Oct. 14 at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #104 in Innisfail from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $40.
“It's going to be a little different format than your normal gala. The typical gala in my mind you see is a bunch of people sitting around with eight people at a table all night and in clothes you're not always wearing,” said Blaine Staples, president of the chamber of commerce. “We're really trying to make it a more casual type of affair and where people will get up and move around and visit.
“The focus on awards and presentations are going to be there but we really also want to focus on giving the people or the community a chance to network and to visit and to reconnect,” he added, noting the evening will have food and drinks but they will be “appropriate drinks” and appetizers as opposed to a big meal offering.
“It’s geared more at keeping people from sitting down with a knife and fork to picking things up and then visiting around with neighbours and moving from table to table.”
There will be five awards handed out this year, including the longstanding ones for Business of the Year, Customer Service of the Year and Farm Family of the Year. However, there are two new awards.
The Community Impact Award is being introduced to honour a business or an entrepreneur who has demonstrated a long-term desire to build a diverse, inclusive, and balanced community along with a clear commitment to social responsibility, and displays community leadership.
“We felt we'd like to recognize an individual that has a lot of impact, whether it be the community as a whole or the business community; just someone that's had a lot of impact,” said Staples.
The chamber is also introducing the Non-profit of the Year Award, which will honour an organization that has demonstrated the highest level of creativity and innovation in meeting the needs of the community, and made a positive impact for the community over the past year.
“We have non-profit members of the chamber of commerce and there's many doing a ton of good things around town, whether they're doing social-type work, or whether they're doing just service clubs. We felt we'd have a category to recognize them as well,” said Staples.
The chamber’s acceptance of nominations for the five awards ended at midnight on Sept. 28.
He said the evening’s program has not yet been finalized but it has been decided to spread out naming award winners throughout the evening.
“Rather than sit down and have a whole spiel of awards we would do a category and then give people a chance to mix and mingle. We got some entertainment and then we’ll do another category,” said Staples.