The hot dog king of Ladysmith has been handed a new crown to wear proudly after being named Ladysmith’s Citizen of the Year for 2017.
“I’m very thankful for it. It’s an honour,” Jim Delcourt told the Chronicle. “It’s starting to sink in. Neighbours and other people I run into keep congratulating me.”
Born and raised in Ladysmith, the 57-year-old is known in the community for fundraising money through the sale of hot dogs out front of the 49th Parallel Grocery store as well as organizing an annual baseball tournament.
“I do it mainly with the Kinsmen and a few other people…all of it goes to benefit the food bank,” Delcourt said of the hot dog sales.
The fundraising is a big part of what led to the Ladysmith Celebrations Society naming him Ladysmith 40th Citizen of the Year, an honour also given to his dad Orval in 1980.
“It means a lot because he won it years ago and I lost him at a young age,” Delcourt said. “My dad was involved in a lot more. He was always doing something and instilled it in us.”
Asked about why he wanted to support the food bank, Delcourt can still recall a memory when he knew the cause needed support.
“Years ago I was walking by the old food bank and I saw an elderly lady outside waiting for food and it just kind of hit home,” he said.
Over the years Delcourt has served as the Ladysmith Baseball Association fastball league president, as well as coached little league baseball and minor soccer.
“I try to help our minor sports as much as I can,” he said. “When we’d do the ball tournaments and stuff I’d give to minor soccer, or girl’s soccer, I’d give them the concession stand as a way to raise money.”
Prior to the start of the Ladysmith Days Kinsmen Parade, Mayor Aaron Stone handed Delcourt a framed print of the town awarded as a memento to each Citizen of the Year.
“We had to go find him because he was so dedicated to getting all the barriers up for the parade that he didn’t come up to the citizen of the year presentation,” Stone said.
Stone has known Delcourt for over 25 years and describes him as being a “big asset.”
“It’s a throwback to what Ladysmith has always been. It’s a small town, everybody knows everybody, and of all the people I knew growing up, Jimmy Delcourt grew up and became a great contributor to the town in terms of raising funds,” he said.
“The whole thing for me was seeing him (before the parade) tear up talking about how his dad received it and how special that was.”
Delcourt doesn’t have children involved in the sports but can remember his dad encouraging him to become an umpire when he was younger as a way to give back.
He’s also helped to organize well over a dozen charity ball tournaments to benefit the food bank and other charities as part of the Ladysmith Kinsmen.
Over the last six years the hot dog sales and the ball tournaments have raised about $20,000, Delcourt said.
The annual tourney awards a Texas mickey to the team that donates the most non-perishable food. It wasn’t held this year but Delcourt is set on bringing it back in 2018.
“We normally get a half a ton to a ton of food at those things,” he said.
Ladysmith Kinsmen also hold a beer garden which has helped to build community projects such as the playground at Transfer Beach.
He’s has also spearheaded two fundraisers for people who have lost their homes, the most recent of which was Traci-lei Pritchard whose houseboat burned down on the last day of January.
Unfortunately, she also had no insurance to recoup any of the costs so friends like Delcourt stepped up to help.
“We got a bunch musicians together and had a silent auction at the Ladysmith Sportsman,” Delcourt said.
The funds were enough to help the woman purchase a trailer to live in.
The Ladysmith Celebrations Society’s Barry Frech, who has also known Delcourt for over two decades, said his friend is reliable and has a big heart for doing good in the community.
“He’s always there to help out. If people are down and out he’s always there to help them,” Frech said.
“He’s always willing to raise money for the food bank and anything that happens in town he’s there willing to lend a helping hand.”