It's easy for me to visualize Vic Fremlin's cow, strategically placed outside the ballroom doors of the hotel in Sault Ste. Marie where the 1998 Northern Ontario Business Awards were being held.
Many attendees of that fabulous night 16 years ago were vying to be the first ones sitting on top of that cow, which looked like the real thing from a distance, or even close up, depending on how happy you were.
It is a warm and fuzzy memory of being in the Sault, and of having fun after awarding some great local companies a Northern Ontario Business Award.
However, one of my fondest memories is that of sharing the stage with Mayor John Rowswell at the 2004 awards . We were like foxes, circling one another, trying to figure the other one out. I realized then what a novel sense of humour he had and how he stole the show that evening with his poker-faced, humourous answers to my probing questions.
I shared the spotlight with John again in 2009 where we sat in wing chairs on the stage as he took us through his many travels to promote the city on a global stage. It was unforgettable, too. He was battling terminal cancer, and he didn't want anyone to know how sick he really was. The wing chairs became part of that year's staging so John could participate in relative comfort.
This year, I host the event with Mayor Debbie Amaroso - Sault Ste. Marie's first female mayor. An excellent orator, she brings her own uniqueness to the mayor's chair and to her community.
Coming back to the Sault to host the Northern Ontario Business Awards is always a special event. The genuine support of city officials, local businesses, alumni, supporters and sponsors is paramount to the success of the program.
Many, many well-known entrepreneurial individuals and companies from this area are NOBA Alumni. Their contributions to job creation and wealth in Sault Ste. Marie and all of Northern Ontario are reasons to celebrate.
It will be interesting to see what stories will unfold during and after the awards ceremony this year and the memories they will create, but one thing is for certain, we will enjoy every single minute creating them.
See you all next year in Thunder Bay where we will continue our mission to honour businesses, success, entrepreneurship and tenacity around the North. It's good fodder for inspiring future generations of community leaders and entrepreneurs.