Willie Playmore performs at Wayne Stock V Saturday, Aug. 4 at the Ski Bowl Park in North Creek.
A humble couple trying to make the world a better place for North Country residents recently earned top honors in the Johnsonville Best of US contest, pitting unsung heroes against each other to find out who is the best in making America great.
Johnsonville — the sausage company from Sheboygan Falls, Wisc. — awarded Wayne and Tammy Bukovinsky the grand prize of $10,000 on June 24 for Wayne Stock, the marquee fundraising event for their not-for-profit organization, the North Country Hardship Fund. Johnsonville President Bill Morgan made the phone call himself.
“It was very, very exciting,” Tammy said. “His last words were, Keep doing what we’re doing.’ It was good to see some good news come out after all the bad news in the world.”
The Best of US contest covered two categories: Community Celebrations and Educators. The Wayne Stock music review earned the most amount of votes for the Community Celebrations category, open to special events, parades and festivals “that showcases the spirit of your community and reignites pride in our great nation.”
Nominations were reviewed against the contest criteria and whittled down to 20 finalists and then 10 based on the consumer votes.
Other finalists in the top 10 were: NC 4th of July Festival in Southpport, N.C.; the National Sweetcorn Festival in Hoopeston, Ill.; BARNDANCE 2013 in Woodstock, Ill.; the Dundalk Heritage Fair in Baltimore, Md.; the Day of Caring in Sheboygan, Wisc.; CELEBRATE commUNITY in Fon du Lac, Wisc.; the Medal of Honor Host City Program in Gainsville, Texas; Community Days in Dubois, Pa.; and the Popcorn Festival in Valparaiso, Ind. Each of the additional nine finalists received $1,000.
High School teacher Robert “Bob” Tyrrell, of Salt Lake City, Utah, won the grand prize for Educator.
In its promotional material for the Best of US contest, the company said, “Johnsonville is on a quest to identify and celebrate the values and behaviors that make America great.”
The North Country Hardship Fund is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization that was born from the Wayne Stock benefit held in 2008 to raise funds for Wayne Bukovinsky, who was involved in a serious motorcycle accident. Wayne is slowly recovering thanks to all the people who donated to his cause.
As a way of giving back to the community, Wayne started the North Country Hardship Fund to raise money for others who have suffered tragedies, such as a fire or a major illness. The small grants are designed to help people until bigger help arrives.
The North Country Hardship Fund raises money through donations and benefits, such as Wayne Stock, and serves five counties: Warren, Essex, Hamilton, Washington and Saratoga.
The North Country Hardship Fund has given out $64,000 to families in need since 2010. Wayne Stock alone brought in about $32,000 just last year, and this will be the event’s sixth year.
Wayne Stock VI will be held noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3 at the Ski Bowl Park in North Creek, featuring many local bands. It will be held rain or shine, and admission is free. Funds are raised a number of ways, incuding an auction and raffle for a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Bands will include Vinnie Leddick, Flipside, Margo Macero, Freedom Hawk, Dr. Soos, Road Dawgz, the Mulch Brothers and the Lemon Grass Band.
This year’s Wayne Stock theme is “Believe.”
“I started the NCHF because I BELIEVED in giving back,” Wayne said in the promotional material. “I BELIEVED in creating an organization whose sole mission was to help victims of tragedy. Five years later, I am proud to say that our organization has helped many individuals and families suffering from a tragic event.”
For more information, contact the Bukovinskys at 251-4122. Also visit the North Country Hardship fund online via their website, www.northcountryhardshipfund.org, or on their Facebook group.