Saturday March 4 is an evening many of the 1,200 residents of Wilkie will never forget.
Hundreds of people crammed into the Saskcan Community Centre with fingers crossed and high hopes that their community would make it as one of the finalists in the annual Kraft Hockeyville contest.
“The announcement happened at 9:50 [p.m.] during Hockey Night in Canada and the place went wild,” organizer Helen Urlacher said. “We watched it on a large projection TV and when our name was announced we were amazed, shocked, relieved. It was great.”
As a Kraft Hockeyville top 10 finalist, Wilkie receives $25,000 in arena upgrades and qualifies for the grand prize of $100,000 in upgrades and the community would also host an NHL pre-season game in the fall.
Wilkie will face Ituna Saskatchewan in the head to head voting which starts at 9 a.m. on March 12 and finishes at 11:59 a.m. on March 13.
“We have 24 hours to get as many votes as possible,” Urlacher noted. “We have voting stations set up at throughout the town and we are also encouraging people from all over the area to vote for us as well.”
At time of publishing, the Wilkie Library, high school, Bethany Enhanced Living and Delta Co-op Grocery Store are confirmed for Kraft Hockeyville voting stations. Anyone can go online and vote as often as he or she likes.
The community was nominated for Kraft Hockeyville by Tammy Sittler who praised community members for their resilience after a fire destroyed the Wilkie arena in 2015. The arena still requires more repairs in the lobby and washrooms.
Regardless of voting results, Urlacher said this has been a tremendous experience for Wilkie.
“Even if we don’t make the top two we are very proud of what we have accomplished,” Urlacher said. "You can see the community pride throughout the town. Everyone has a smile on their face and a spring in their step. It’s amazing.”
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