TSN anchor savours ‘Kraft’ tour
Even though he made it to the bright lights of the big city, Darren Dutchyshen has never forgotten his small-town roots.
That’s a big reason why being part of the “Kraft Celebration Tour” means so much to the co-host of the prime-time edition of TSN SportsCentre, which will broadcast live from the Sorting Gap Marina this Sunday at 5 p.m. as part of the weekend festivities.
“It’s great when we tell them in 15 minutes, we’re going live from coast to coast and everyone is going to see what this place is all about,” he noted.
“Everybody is extremely happy to get the ‘tour’ in their town,” Dutchyshen added. “Everyone comes out and feels good about it.”
His co-anchor, Jennifer Hedger, also can relate to Dutchyshen’s affinity for smaller communities as she grew up in the former towns of Lambeth and Westminster, Ont. before they were annexed by nearby London in 1993.
Fort Frances was selected as one of the 20 finalists from an initial group of 640 communities from across Canada which were vying to host the “Kraft Celebration Tour.”
Then in a head-to-head online showdown with Dryden last month, Fort Frances easily won—amassing a whopping 518,082 votes over a 24-hour period compared to 272,292 for our northern neighbour.
The winning tally exceeded not only Dryden’s, but the vote count of every other finalist in the country.
“I’m not surprised,” Dutchyshen said of the massive amount of support garnered by Fort Frances.
“When you’re from a smaller place, you’ve got to do it yourself,” he reasoned.
“It’s very impressive and overwhelming what they did,” Dutchyshen added. “Good for them. It shows the enthusiasm they have, the pride, the spirit, the commonality of the cause.
“I love how communities get behind it and make such a concerted effort.”
Getting to host the “tour” doesn’t just mean national recognition for Fort Frances. Kraft also is donating $25,000 to the Fort Frances Curling Club to help pay for its new geothermal heating and cooling system.
“With the club’s move to geothermal energy, it was a great example of living healthy and leading an active lifestyle,” said Kraft rep Jonathan Lithwick.
“We received so many
quality entries from so many different communities,” he noted.
“It was a better quality of nominations than ever before.”
Kraft has donated $1.28 million to 50 communities since the “tour” began in 2009.
“It’s very important for us to support local communities and give back to the people who engage with us on a daily basis,” Lithwick stressed.
Dutchyshen, meanwhile, embraces the concept of turning SportsCentre into a mini-travelogue each summer to educate viewers—and himself—on parts of Canada they may not be familiar with.
“Being a western guy, I’ve never had the opportunity to be out there [in Fort Frances],” he said.
“It’s more exciting when you go somewhere for the first time,” he added. “The ‘tour’ gives us the ability to go places we have never been before.
“This country is so big and vast and beautiful.”
As for the reception awaiting the travelling sports show at each community, Dutchyshen was overflowing with compliments.
“You go pretty much any place coast to coast and Canadians will take care of you,” he remarked.
“We’re blessed, we really are,” he stressed. “We get treated way better than we deserve to be.”
Usually at the “tour” stops, the TSN hosts take part in some pre-arranged competition. It will be no different here as Dutchyshen and Hedger will face off in a street curling exhibition at the Sorting Gap Marina on Saturday from 2-3 p.m.
Dutchyshen also was hoping to spend some time on Rainy Lake with rod and reel in hand, as he’s familiar with this area’s high-profile quality of fishing.
“I’m looking forward to catching some bass—as long as mine is bigger than Hedger’s,” he quipped, before adding with a laugh, “I’ll be cutting her line if she gets a whopper.”
A mix-and-mingle social will take place Saturday at the curling club starting at 8 p.m.
Dutchyshen and Hedger then will sign autographs at Safeway on Sunday from noon-1 p.m., and again after the broadcast is over at 6 p.m.
Kraft, meanwhile, will hold a free community barbecue Sunday from 3-4:15 p.m., followed by the cheque presentation to the curling club.