Twenty five years ago when consensus was the Cook Inlet was a declining oil field and support industry was shuttering their doors on the North Road, Jack Brown and the late Aaron Goforth decided to through a festival to appreciate the goose that laid the golden egg. It was called Industry Appreciation Day when the community turned out to recognize outstanding businesses and individuals in the oil and gas industry.
The concept was so successful that in later years commercial fishing and the tourism industry were added to the celebration. U.S. Senators, State Governors and local officials stepped up to speak of the importance that these industries play in the quality of life on the Kenai Peninsula.
“The whole nation benefits from the oil and gas that is produced here as well as the fish that are harvested from the Cook Inlet, yet understanding the value of Alaska’s resources to all Americans is a large part of what I do in congress. It is refreshing that the Kenai Peninsula hosts this event annually and recognizes outstanding businesses and individuals that contribute to our quality of life in Alaska,” said Alaska’s senior Senator Lisa Murkowski who annually attends Industry Appreciation Day.
Speaker of the Alaska House Mike Chenault and State Senator Peter Micciche celebrate Industry Appreciation Day every year by buying a 4-H locally grown Jr. Market Livestock hog and donating to the free feed. For 25 years Carrol Martin of Diamond M Ranch has barbequed the pick and served it to the hundreds who line up for a taste of the best pork on the planet.
This year’s award recipients included Robert Ruffner who was chosen for the prestigious Don Gilman Service to Community Award for his work as executive director of the Kenai Watershed Forum over the past 18 years.
In the oil and gas industry Ron Hyde was honored for his work in renovating the 100-year old cannery at Kenai Landing. For their continued commitment to resource production and economic development in the Cook Inlet, Furie Operating Alaska was chosen as the outstanding business in oil and gas. As the outstanding support business for the oil and gas industry Alaska Waste was honored for their commitment to making the Kenai Peninsula a cleaner and safer place to live.
For the commercial fishing industry Donalson’s Fishing Supplies was recognized as the support business, Jeff Beaudoin as the outstanding individual and Cook Inlet Aquaculture Assoc. as the outstanding fish producer. And in Tourism, Michelle Glaves was singled out for her long-term work on behalf of the Kenai Peninsula’s tourism industry at the community, regional and state levels.
The outstanding support for tourism award went the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and new visitor center for their year round special programs and activities. And as the outstanding business award for tourism, AJ’s Old Town Steakhouse & Tavern and Driftwood Inn RV Park & Charters was honored for their ever present community involvement.