Esprit Rafting hosting TV show Tuesday 0
The Pontiac County will receive a nation-wide audience when Esprit Rafting is featured on the popular CBC show “The Big Decision” this fall.
Taping for the episode will be held next Tuesday, Aug. 7 when Esprit accepts the reality show’s challenge to host an event emphasizing its role in the community and its ability to rally and network people together.
Arlene Dickinson, investor, entrepreneur and marketing expert, will host the show during the community party being held between 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at Esprit Rafting in Davidson, Quebec.
“There’s something for everybody,” said Julie Bertrand, food, beverage and hospitality manager for Esprit Rafting. “It’s going to be a huge community event.”
This event will be open to the public and will include a free corn roast, a mini-trade fair featuring area artisans, local entertainers, and a tribute to the Ottawa Valley that links the glorious past of the lumber companies with the modern-day rafting industry. Organizers hope they can attract 1,000 people in order to make the event a success. It’s all part of Esprit Rafting’s goal to convince their “Big Decision” judges that they have not only played a major role in their community, but have raised its profile.
“We’re trying to get the message out there that the Pontiac has lost its lumber industry and how tourism and the river is picking up and compensating for that economic loss,” said Ms. Bertrand.
The tourist operation is among 12 Canadian businesses in contention for an investment of $250,000 by Ms. Dickinson. The series, which debuted in March, features either Ms. Dickinson or co-host Jim Treliving evaluating two businesses and deciding whether to fund one, both, or neither.
The television network reviewed 1,000 applications before settling on Esprit Rafting and its 11 competitors.
Esprit owner/operator Jim Coffey submitted a brief story about the business and some of the hardships it had faced in the past year. Last year, the operator was forced to pull out of Mexico, where it had been hosting seasonal rafting excursions since 1995, after the violence associated with the current drugs wars made conditions too dangerous for their employees.
“It’s unsafe for us to go to Mexico,” explained Ms. Bertrand. “It’s really sad because we have friends and family there now. It’s been pretty devastating.”
They decided to relocate to Costa Rica, however, during the move they lost their vehicle in a fire. The blaze destroyed boats, equipment and personal clothing. They found themselves begging and borrowing to make it through that first season in Costa Rica.
CBC producers have already spent some time at Esprit Rafting filming sequences for the episode, which will air sometime in the fall. Ms. Dickinson will be here Tuesday and Wednesday. So far, they seem impressed with what they’ve seen, added Ms. Bertrand.
“They’ve taken a real interest in the Pontiac and the Ottawa Valley and how we are a really tight-knit community,” she said.
Sean Chase is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist