For the second consecutive year, the O’Brien Awards will have a Red Carpet show, streamed live on standardbredcanada.ca and SC’s Facebook page, starting at 5:30 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, February 2.
Kelly Spencer, the face of Grand River Raceway and the track's outgoing Marketing Manager will once again be the Red Carpet Emcee, providing commentary as guests arrive and interviewing some of the finalists and VIP guests as they show off their tuxes and gowns.
Grand River Raceway is the proud sponsor of the 2018 Red Carpet Show and the show is produced by CUJO Entertainment.
O’Brien organizers checked in with Kelly to get her thoughts on some of the O’Brien Awards from past years, what she plans on wearing, and a sneak peak into her future company.
SC: What was the highlight of hosting the 2017 O’Brien Awards Red Carpet for you?
KS: Despite drinking wine on the train from Montreal all afternoon en route to the event, Freddy MacDonald (father of Anthony, Mark, James and Curtis) was quite succinct when, as my final guest, he conjured the hashtag #lotsofworkbitofluck as the winning O’Brien Award formula.
SC: What or who are you wearing this year?
KS: A blue dress from the '60s. And a lot of Spanx.
SC: Tell us about your favourite O’Brien Awards memory
KS: That’s tough -- there’s a lot! I was really happy to present an award for JM Vangogh to my sweet friends Ron & Liz Waples in 2005. More recently, it was a thrilling opportunity to co-host in 2014 and of course host the first Red Carpet show last year.
SC: What was the first O’Brien Awards Gala you attended?
KS: I believe my first one was in 1997 and I haven’t missed one since.
SC: Funniest thing that has happened at an O’Brien Awards that you have attended?
KS: Dave Landry and I shoot the night, so our photographs (the ones that don’t see the light of day) provide quite a bit of late-night comedy. I must say that Pat Hudon’s unabashed missing front tooth at last year’s event was pretty awesome, especially when he announced while leaving the stage that the replacement was coming the following week.
SC: You co-hosted the O’Brien Awards in 2014 with Ken Middleton. Was there anything that stood out that evening for you?
KS: I’ve always appreciated Kenny’s talent but never so much as that night. I was nervous but he was a rockstar and very helpful. We had a lot of fun; a good mix of fun banter and high energy. I really enjoyed being onstage with all of the winners. The atmosphere is electric when you’re surrounded by oodles of emotion (and sequins).
SC: What will you miss the most about Grand River Raceway?
KS: I love many aspects of the job, but I’ll miss race nights the most, specifically the horses, the horsepeople and the guests I’ve come to know so well over the years. I will also miss my staff, but I know they’ll continue to rock it to the max!
SC: What accomplishment are you most proud of during your tenure at Grand River?
KS: When people race at Grand River Raceway or visit as a guest, it’s our responsibility to facilitate a positive and memorable experience. There are a lot of moving parts (behind the scenes) that are required to make that happen and I think we worked together to deliver those experiences very consistently over many years.
SC: What are you looking forward to with operating your communications company, True Nature Communications?
I’m looking forward to remaining in the harness racing industry! Although I will have time to nurture some non-racing projects, my main focus will be TheStable.ca. I’m really proud of this venture and excited to help guide the ship. #ownalittleloveitalot