2010 Nebraska Travel Industry Award Winners Announced

2010 Nebraska Travel Industry Award Winners Announced

LINCOLN, NEB. (Oct. 14, 2010)—More than 150 tourism professionals were on hand to honor their peers at the annual travel awards banquet Thursday evening at The Cornhusker, A Mariott Hotel, in Lincoln. The event capped the 35th Annual Nebraska Travel and Tourism Conference organized by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development’s Travel and Tourism Division and hosted by the Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Lieutenant Gov. Rick Sheehy announced the following 2010 Nebraska Travel Industry award winners.

The 2010 Henry Fonda Award – the state’s highest tourism award representing leadership, vision and dedication to the tourism industry – went to Chard Hirsch of Broken Bow, who has been an avid spokesperson and supporter for her community, county and the Sandhills Region for most of her life. Through the year’s she’s won Outstanding Elementary Teacher of the Year, Elks Outstanding Citizen of the Year, Junior Chamber of Commerce Boss of the Year, Outstanding Nebraska Retailer, Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year, and the KOLN/KGIN “People You Can Count On” Award.

For the past six years, Hirsch has been active in promoting and developing tourism along the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway. She was active in bringing the scenic byway interpretive center to Broken Bow and regularly volunteers her time there to share the byway’s history with visitors.

The Friend of Tourism Award went to the Nebraska Humanities Council. The council showcased Omaha’s artistic and cultural sides by hosting the Federation of State Humanities Council’s 2009 National Humanities Conference. More than 300 attendees representing every state spent two fun-filled days in Nebraska’s largest city. Conference attendees represented the cultural leadership of the U.S., and the time they spent in Nebraska changed their views about our state; so much so that many pledged to return later and vacation here.

The Outstanding Event Award for communities with populations up to 10,000, went to Nebraska’s Big Rodeo in Burwell. Since 1921, this town of 1,100 people has hosted one of the biggest events in central Nebraska. This year, every motel, hotel, bed & breakfast, RV park and campground from Burwell to Ord and surrounding counties was booked solid to accommodate the more than 20,000 rodeo visitors.

The Outstanding Event Award for communities with populations greater than 10,000 was given to Kool-Aid Days in Hastings. When Edwin Perkins invented Kool-Aid in 1927, he couldn’t have imagined it would one day lead to an annual festival. What began in 1998 as a way for the Hastings Museum to celebrate its new Kool-Aid exhibit has since grown into a three-day, community-wide celebration that attracted 40,000 people in 2010.

The Outstanding Tourism Association Award was won by Beatrice 20/20 Vision. This grassroots organization uses creative and forward thinking ideas to promote and develop the Big Blue River watershed as a recreational destination. What began as a project to clean up the river quickly turned into a campaign to increase the river’s economic, social and tourism potential.

The Outstanding Tourism Campaign Award went to Scotts Bluff County Tourism. “Nebraska’s Landmark Country,” the new marketing brand for Scott Bluff County, takes advantage of two scenic wonders unique to the region, Scotts Bluff National Monument and Chimney Rock National Historic Site. “Nebraska like you’ve never seen it” is the brand’s tag line and it promotes the area as a place that will inspire and surprise visitors with its stunning natural land formations and wild beauty.

The Outstanding Tourism Publication Award was won by the Lexington Visitors Guide. Published by the Lexington Clipper-Herald Newspaper, the guides’s 35 pages are packed with everything there is to know about the city. Colorful photographs show visitors how much fun they can expect to have in Lexington, whether exploring the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles, fishing or bird watching, hunting, or visiting the Antique Extravaganza or the Dawson County Fair.

The Outstanding Website Award went to the Nebraska Association of Bed and Breakfasts. Members of the association are continually working to increase membership, promote the state’s many B&B’s and stay current with the latest marketing trends and ideas. In 2009, the site was completely redesigned, including a new address (www.nebraskabb.com), an interactive map and the latest technology. Members can update and edit content, upload photographs and information, and promote their B&B to particular target markets.

The Outstanding Tourism Attraction Award was given to the Cedar Run ATV Trail. The trail – on exposed sections of the lake bed – began as a way to bring outside tourism revenue to Harlan County Lake when water levels dropped due to a multi-year drought. When water levels rebounded, an innovative partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Harlan County Tourism, Harlan County Community Foundation and the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission garnered the support and funds to create the Cedar Run ATV Trail. Local lodging tax revenue more than doubled during the past two years, due in part to its promotion as a haven for ATV riders.

The Outstanding Nature-Tourism Entity Award celebrates the state’s many outdoor recreational pastimes and activities. This year’s winner was Calamus Outfitters/Switzer Ranch. The ranch is a 12,000-acre operation located in Loup County near Calamus Reservoir. Since 2000, the ranch has become an outdoor recreational paradise offering lodging, hunting, trail rides, bird and wildlife viewing, and canoeing, tanking, and tubing trips, and unique Sandhills Safari Tours. The ranch also has become a haven for bird watchers, with participation in its bird watching tours increasing from 50 in 2005 to more than 500 in 2009.

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