Bill Bryanton received the Clair Mayhew Volunteer of the Year Award Monday night during the grand opening of the 2014 Kensington Harvest Festival. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer
KENSINGTON – Distraction. Misdirection. Lies. It had all the trappings of a good crime capper novel.
Bill Bryanton had no idea he was this year’s recipient of the Clair Mayhew Volunteer of the Year Award for the annual Kensington Harvest Festival.
“It was a total surprise for me, I had no idea this was going to happen,” laughed the 67-year-old Monday evening.
Prior to the award presentation Bryanton’s family had told him to get dressed up for the festival grand opening because Mayor Gordon Coffin wanted a picture with the volunteer committee.
They then gave him a program with someone else’s name printed in the volunteer award winner slot.
“I was really duped,” he said.
Bryanton has been a harvest festival organizer and volunteer for more than 25 years and has had his hand in pretty much every piece of his community’s signature summer event.
He takes a week of vacation from his work with the provincial housing services every year to lend a hand come event week.
He’s also involved with various other community groups and inituatives, including Habitat for Humanity, The Masons, his church, the local schools (while his kids were in attendance) and more.
Bryanton’s daughter, Sara, was in on the hoodwink and took special care to record his reaction.
She’s proud of him, she said.
“When they announced last year’s winner I though, you know that would be a great award for dad to get. He does a lot for the community, he’s always done a lot, my whole life,” she said.
This year marks the 47th Kensington Harvest Festival. Anyone looking to take in some of the festivities has until Friday to do so. Everything wraps up that night with a game show night and entertainment at the Community Garden Complex, 7:30 to 11:30.
In addition to Bryanton ‘s award presentation, Monday’s grand opening included well wishes from local MLA Wes Sheridan and a welcome from Mayor Coffin.
The night’s guest speaker was Summerside native Doug MacLean, former NHL coach, general manager and current sportscaster and commentator.
MacLean told stories of his time behind the bench in the NHL and joked several times about the amount of requests he used to get from Islanders looking for game tickets.
He also got some laughs by joking about the amount of Islanders ended up working in the NHL during his time in the league.
“The Columbus Blue Jackets, when I left there they were the second biggest employer of Prince Edward Islanders after Cavendish Farms,” he said, getting a good laugh out of the crowd gathered in the Community Gardens Complex.
MacLean finished his remarks by telling everyone how much he enjoys getting back to the Island and especially attending events like the Harvest Festival.
“You think about the Harvest Festival, you think about all the volunteers and how a community comes together – only in P.E.I. does it really happen,” said MacLean.
“(P.E.I.) is a truly remarkable place to be born, to be from, and I still consider myself an Islander, so it’s an honour to be here and it’s an honour to proclaim the 47th annual Kensington Harvest Festival officially open.”
A full list of all festival events can be found online at www.kensington.ca