Way back in the early winter of 1988, my friend Sam and I decided to pass a little slower than usual time by creating some tongue-in-cheek awards for citizens and organizations here on Salt Spring. We tried to give these awards a feeling of authenticity, something akin to the Academy Awards in Hollywood and the Tonys from Broadway in New York City. It didn’t take too much imagination to come up with the name “Salties.”
That first year, we created 25 mythical Salties. A couple of examples were the “Just Kidding, Folks” award, which went to the B.C. Ferries Corporation for creating a controversy over the Isabella Point ferry terminal and then sheepishly claiming that it had all been a big misunderstanding (not that much has changed, apparently). The Peacemaker of the Year Salty went to Luigi’s Pizza for calling off the then hotly contested cold pizza war (back when a good slice of pizza was hard to come by on the rock).
You’ve probably caught on to the idea, but here are a couple more of the awards to help cement the concept. The Democracy in Action award went to the Salt Spring general public for electing all their political representatives by acclamation (then again, some things do change), and the Non-Event of the Year Salty went to the Harmonic Convergence (remember the Harmonic Convergence?) with a close second to the defeated leisure pool.
Of course, there never really were any votes cast, nor any awards presented, but Sam and I made it look official by announcing the winners in a letter to the editor in that week’s issue of the Driftwood.
Many Driftwood readers found the awards amusing, and some were even taken in by the “fake hoopla,” believing that they had somehow missed out on the gala event of the year. The next winter, I decided to forego Sam’s complicity and award the Salties all by my lonesome. This meant that the third annual 1989 Salties were up for grabs (don’t ask how the third annual could take place in the second year of presentation; this is a popularity contest, not an intelligence test).
To make matters even more confusing, the public was informed that the “Saltie” was a shortened name for “Salt in Wound” award to give the general public some idea of the spirit the awards were meant to convey. This particular year, The Montague-Capulet Merger Award was given to Greenwoods and Lady Minto Hospital while the “Walk on Water” trophy went to the Ganges Seawalk.
The Salt Spring Hysterical Society defended their previous victories from past years by collecting the “Last Show, Definitely” Salty for once again claiming they would retire the old material but instead kept trotting out the old comedy scripts for one more kick at the can. The late Driftwood columnist Bill Webster was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for proving that his column could be written just as well using a food processor instead of a word processor. (For years afterwards, whenever I ran into Bill anywhere in town, he would tilt his head downwards, shake it from side to side, and mutter the words “food processor.”)
Anyway, with time, the idea for the Salty Awards became a bit stale and the Salties were mercifully put out to pasture. Just a few years ago, however, a business awards promotion was picked up again by the Chamber of Commerce. I was honoured by being asked to host the presentation of the awards at the Harbour House Hotel where a decent crowd turned up to witness the presentation of the awards under the lights in what could be described as Salt Spring’s version of a “red carpet affair.”
Old and new businesses were nominated and judged by a three-judge panel, and there was a “people’s choice” award as well. Unfortunately, I was not asked to return the next year as MC (which is okay by me except for some minor bruising of the ego).
In the meantime, with or without me, the Salty Awards continue bigger and better than ever. Last year I received a phone call from someone representing the Chamber informing me that I had been nominated in the category “Funniest Person on the Island.” I was told that judging by the votes counted thus far, I could finish no worse than third (which is where I finished). My old friend, Arvid, who had died over a year earlier, was still funny enough to be funnier than me. There’s irony there somewhere and I’m sure he’s enjoying it wherever he may be now.
All this is just a long-winded way of announcing that the 2018 Salty Awards are upon us and the winners will be announced at a gala dinner on Thursday, Nov. 8. A total of 30 awards will be handed out in two categories: Business and Community. Included this year is a Fun & Games category for the more quirky and esoteric among us. Both the nomination and voting processes are now officially closed and the winners will once again be announced at the “big blowout” presentation at the Harbour House Hotel.
Nobody asked me, but it is with bated breath that we must wait these last few days for the words “may I have the envelope, please.” There will undoubtedly be acceptance speeches galore thanking mothers, fathers, spouses and that special grade 3-4 split class teacher at Fulford Elementary. You may even see me there. I’ll be the one with the sore loser pout.