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Best of Whistler 2015 - Arts, Media and Culture



  • P: File Photo / Cathryn Atkinson
  • Best Artist Chili Thom
Best Artist

Chili Thom

By his reckoning, this is the 13th year that painter Chili Thom has won the accolades as Whistler's Best Artist. He is thrilled by the honour. This year has taken Thom into new territory, but his friends and fans have come out in droves to support him as he moves forward with cancer treatment. He wants to thank everyone. "I had been able to work up until I started chemo at the end of September," he says. He agrees he is looking forward to picking up a paintbrush again. He's planning to work on a canvas and film project with his wife over the holidays. "It's a thank-you kind of thing. It will be pine trees, but rough and free, with splatters and less control," he says. Coming second in this category was Vanessa Stark, while Lianne Gulka came third.

Best Local Musical Act The Hairfarmers - P: FILE PHOTO
  • P: File Photo
  • Best Local Musical Act The Hairfarmers

Best Local Musical Act

The Hairfarmers

Another Whistler success story, after 16 years together rocking duo Grateful Greg and Guitar Doug of The Hairfarmers say they've had an amazing summer and fall covering weddings and private events, as well as playing pub and bar gigs. They also went further afield, playing shows in Vancouver, Toronto, at Burning Man, and on tour in Australia. The result from the adventure is a Live CD, due out soon.

"The Hairfarmers are blessed with the best fans, friends and family you could ever hope for," says Grateful Greg.

"There's no way we can really thank the fans enough for the energy and good vibes we get from playing for you except to say this... that we'll return the favour by playing our hearts out for you and sharing the good times for as long as you'll have us!"

Guitar Doug adds: "Thank you Whistler.... I've been humbled and honoured that my guitar could bring people happiness, hope and healing, so inspiring to have friends that have supported us."

Coming second this year was Celt-rockers Ruckus Deluxe and third is Neverland Nights.

Best Arts & Culture Event of 2015 Cornucopia - P: TOURISM WHISTLER / MIKE CRANE
  • P: Tourism Whistler / Mike Crane
  • Best Arts & Culture Event of 2015 Cornucopia

Best Arts & Culture Event of 2015


Whistler's 11-day fall food and drink celebration Cornucopia is this year's winner and its event director Kelly Hand says this makes her "so happy!"

"I think the arts and culture programming that goes on in this town is amazing, world class. It's a real honour to win," she says. Hand says they show a wide spectrum of food and beverage, what is new and edgy. 2015 was an exciting year. "Cornucopia was a bigger party this year. It was phenomenal. The Watermark (Communications) team has produced it for 10 years ... it has got such a tremendous history and roots.  It had more attendees than ever, more partners than ever in our chefs and restaurants. Plus the wineries, breweries and distilleries."

The Whistler Film Festival, celebrating its 15th this year, placed second, while the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra's series of summer performances came third.

Best Party / Festival of 2015 Crankworx - P: TOURISM WHISTLER / MIKE CRANE
  • P: Tourism Whistler / Mike Crane
  • Best Party / Festival of 2015 Crankworx

Best Party/Festival of 2015


Darren Kinnaird of Crankworx is a very happy mountain bike festival organizer after finding out they have picked up this accolade yet again.

What is the secret to Crankworx success? "It's a massive team effort. It showcases the year-round pull of Whistler. It shows what a great place it has become to visit in the summer, and specifically for mountain biking," Kinnaird says.

"Not only do we have some of the best mountain biking in the world, but it has given us the basis for one of the biggest festivals in mountain biking anywhere." Plans for 2016 include more participatory events that everyone can get involved in, more Kidsworx and a female dual speed and style event in support of the growth of women's mountain biking.

The Pemberton Music Festival also pulled in many votes, coming second, while the Whistler Beer Festival soaked up third place.

Best Place to See a Live Act Whistler Olympic Plaza - P: TOURISM WHISTLER / MIKE CRANE
  • P: Tourism Whistler / Mike Crane
  • Best Place to See a Live Act Whistler Olympic Plaza

Best Place to See a Live Act

Olympic Plaza

At the moment, Whistler Olympic Plaza plays host to skaters as the location of the resort's circular outdoor rink. Families teach their youngsters how to glide, and friends and couples enjoy the fun that lasts well into the evening. The lights, snow and music make it magical.

But the rest of the year, this is Whistler's premier venue for outdoor music. Both the resort municipality and the Whistler Arts Council host many musicians and performers — Spirit of the West and The Vancouver Symphony are just two. And the plaza is home to the Beer Festival and Children's Festival. It is the resort's central gathering area.

The Garibaldi Lift Company, a.k.a. the GLC, came second, while the Crystal Lounge placed third.

Best Celebrity Sighting

Katy Perry

Ms. Perry spent 10 days in Whistler in August, performing at three private shows sponsored by Automatic Data Processing (ADP). Employees of the company got a four-night stay in town and the chance to hear the talented popstar. Nice gig for all concerned!The rumours floated around town for days before there was confirmation. Second place went to Leonardo DiCaprio, who was here of over a year ago. Some visitors just seem to hold their cachet. Third place goes to A&W's Alan, who made many friends while in Whistler making a new commercial.

Favourite Piece of Public Art Inukshuks - P: TOURISM WHISTLER / MIKE CRANE
  • P: Tourism Whistler / Mike Crane
  • Favourite Piece of Public Art Inukshuks

Favourite Piece of Public Art


A concept of the human in the wilderness that was borrowed from the Inuit of Canada's north for the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler's Inukshuks are beloved talismans for the resort, magical and bringers of good fortune. It has become an unofficial symbol of Canada. Whistler has two. The first greets visitors upon entry to the resort on Village Gate Boulevard, while the other is on Whistler Mountain, overlooking one of the best views in the world.

Another 2010 Games symbol, the Olympic Rings, was second in popularity when it comes to public art, not bad in a town full of beautiful things.

Best Writer

G.D. Maxwell

Max, Max, Max. Congrats. Again. The Bard of Boisterous Banter has been out in the world lately, gallivanting about in a sailboat on course from Europe to North America. The Old Man and the Sea, indeed, like our own personal Hemingway. Nevertheless, Max hasn't missed a single Maxed Out column for this paper; there would be plenty of unhappy readers if he did. His sharp wit and easy storytelling style is what keeps them coming back, as well as his willingness to speak (his) truth to pretty much everyone.

Now back in the resort, he was happy but added: "It's always a surprise because I always expect that sooner or later people are either going to come to their senses or just get so tired of it happening that it becomes an anyone-but-Harper kind of thing."

As usual, Pique's talented film reviewer and all-round horror dude Feet Banks placed second, while our own hard-working bearded sportswriter and stand-up comedian guy Dan Falloon came third.

Best Photographer:

Joern Rohde

Rohde's voice went up an octave when told he'd won Whistler's Best Photographer this year. "Awesome!" he says. It's good to get that single word out of him, because true to form he is incredibly busy on a shoot — one of three that day. A professional photographer in Whistler since 1998, travelling is also part of his career — with work in Ontario, Hawaii, the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas. Asked about his work style, he says: "I started out shooting stock pictures and began shooting news about two or three years later... then probably shooting 10 events a week. You shoot in every weather condition, every light condition, every sport and speed... You get a feel for shooting in any condition."

No slouches themselves in a resort filled with talent, popular photographers Blake Jorgenson placed second and David McColm came third.