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Our journey to find GRIT has come to a close for this year but don’t worry, we’re already scouting to find next year’s nominees!


The GRIT Awards were presented the night of April 24th, at the MovieLounge, dinner-cinema-event space. Over 100 people attended the awards ceremony. This gathering of friends was to showcase the accomplishments of the finalists and winners who have distinguished themselves in their profession, time, energy, expertise and to celebrate a job well done in the local hospitality industry.

Pre-GRIT

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The Convention & Visitors Bureau is pleased to announce this year’s GRIT Award recipients by category:

Restaurant Partner of the Year :

Golden Corral

One of Fort Smith’s most popular eateries since 1993, the Golden Corral restaurant serves as the home of various weekly civic club meetings and events, in addition to hosting a loyal, local clientele. As dedicated community partners, Golden Corral has worked with most every Fort Smith non-profit group for many years; and if you have attended more than one catered event in the past few years, chances are very good you have dined on a customized Golden Corral Cuisine. A division of Fort Smith’s KMAC Enterprises, Golden Corral, and their catering staff—led by the irrepressible Debra Presson–knows most every kitchen in the Fort Smith area and is always happy to work with convention and tourism groups to keep them well fed.

Mayor Sandy Sanders and Sherry Scorby present Debra Presson and Rose Tomas with GRIT Award.

Mayor Sandy Sanders and Sherry Scorby present Debra Presson and Rose Tomas with the Golden Corral Restaurant Partner of the Year GRIT Award.

Lodging Partner of the Year:

Homewood Inn and Suites by Hilton

Opened at the entrance of the Fort Smith Regional Airport in 2009, the 88 room Homewood Inn and Suites by Hilton provides a wonderful first impression to those arriving in Fort Smith by air, and is a major play in the fast developing “Phoenix Avenue Corridor” of hospitality offerings convenient to I-540. Created by Fort Smith Hotel Developer Marion Driscoll, the Homewood staff is always accommodating to the business and casual traveler, not to mention groups, whether on a motor coach, attending a convention or a sporting event.

Congratulations Homewood Inn and Suites by Hilton! Accepting award: Pam Schier and Becky Murphy.

Congratulations Homewood Inn and Suites by Hilton! Accepting award: Pam Schier and Becky Murphy.

Attraction Partner of the Year:

Fort Smith National Historic Site

The Fort Smith National Historic Site has served as our town’s #1 tourist attraction since it was designated a National Park by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 and came under the operation of the United States Department of the Interior. Fort Smith’s western frontier “brand” has been built around this historic landmark for the past 53 years and now hosts more than 87,000 visitors a year. Featuring elements from the gallows and courtroom to the commissary building, “hell on the border jail” and Trail of Tears monument, the Historic Site has attracted tourists from around the world. When the federal government closed facilities last year, the ranger who rode a golf cart to advise visitors of the closure was happy to be equipped with walking maps and brochures, still providing “Fort Smith hospitality” to guests with guidance on other attractions to visit.

And the Attraction Partner of the Year GRIT Award goes to...Fort Smith National Historic Site! Judy Bachler, Lisa Conrad Frost and Michael Groomer

And the Attraction Partner of the Year GRIT Award goes to…Fort Smith National Historic Site!
Judy Bachler, Lisa Conrad Frost and Michael Groomer

Business Partner of the Year:

BrickCity Emporium

One of the most unique shopping experiences in Fort Smith, the BrickCity Emporium is 20,000 square feet of shopping and dining, with more than 160 unique shops featuring everything from Handmade and repurposed items to vintage treasures, home decor, gifts and even women’s and children’s boutiques. A passion of owners Sarah and Mike Adams, BrickCity also provides space for information on various organizations designed to help improve our lives in Fort Smith in the Community Corner. Workshops, demonstrations and even the Patio Café make BrickCity a favorite shopping experience for locals and visitors alike. Promoted as featuring “The Biggest Little Shops in Town,” it’s a dream come true for motor coach groups and convention attendees visiting Fort Smith from all around the country since no two trips to the BrickCity Emporium are the same with merchandise that is constantly changing.

BrickCity Emporium has GRIT! Owners, Sara and Mike Adams accept award.

BrickCity Emporium has GRIT! Owners, Sara and Mike Adams accept award.

Polly Crews Hospitality Person of the Year:  (a tie)

John Bell Jr.

Simply put, John Bell Jr. was Fort Smith’s very own Norman Rockwell. The nationally renowned artist was a Fort Smith native who spent much of life capturing the beauty of our state and the character of our people in spectacular color, with authentic detail, on canvas for us to enjoy. Bell began his career drawing charcoal sketches in the early 1960′s after having been shown how to draw stick figures as a child. Thousands of his paintings and prints can now be found in public places and private collections all over the United States. He once created a portrait of country music singer Roy Acuff on the back of a hand crafted fiddle to be presented to him on stage during the “Grand Old Opry.” John used old postcards, early photographs and on site photography to research each composition. We lost our talented friend John Bell last fall but his spectacular images of our history and our state are legacies that will live forever as treasures.

John Bell Jr. - Polly Crews Hospitality Person of the Year. Wife, Maxine Bell and daughter, Lisa Murphy accept award.

John Bell Jr. – Polly Crews Hospitality Person of the Year. Wife, Maxine Bell and daughter, Lisa Murphy accept award.

&

Floyd and Sue Robison

The first person interpretation of historic characters from our color frontier past is one of the key elements that make Fort Smith stand out in the crowd in the hospitality industry. Floyd and Sue Robison are prefect examples of how to leave a lasting impression about Fort Smith history. This couple make judge and Mrs. Isaac Parker “come to life” through their portrayals….with careful attention to both physical resemblance and costuming, not to mention stories of the life and times of Fort Smith during its days as a frontier community. Plus you never know where you’ll bump into Judge and Mrs. Parker…..it could be at the Museum of History, on a Trolley ride, at the National Historic Site, or perhaps even a private party!

Mayor Sandy Sanders, Sherry Scorby, and Tonya Jackson present Polly Crews Hospitality Person of the Year GRIT Award to Floyd and Sue Robison.

Mayor Sandy Sanders, Sherry Scorby and Tonya Jackson present the Polly Crews Hospitality Person of the Year GRIT Award to Floyd and Sue Robison.

At the awards ceremony, the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau showcased the past year’s Hometown Hospitality Heroes, who have been highlighted each quarter in the City of Fort Smith’s Fast Focus e-newsletter, as having brought or hosted tourism events in 2013-14. These recipients are: These recipients are: Sharon Chapman and Melissa Schoenfeld, for their work and assistance with the Regional Dance American Southwest Festival 2013; Bill Hollenbeck, for his work on the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association Convention for 2013; Brooke Shock and Courtney Shreve, for their work on the Konsplosion Anime Convention and Mike Alsup, for his work on bringing the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association and Arkansas Therapeutic Recreation Society Conventions to Fort Smith for the last three years.

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Prior to the awards presentation guests were treated to an array of appetizers prepared by Chef Blythe Beck. Following the awards presentation, attendees continued the celebration of their industry successes as well as their individual contributions to tourism and the Fort Smith community.

Congratulations to all the Recipients as well as Finalists; your contributions have made such a difference and Fort Smith is lucky to have you!!!

GRIT Finalists!

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Fort Smith and our region benefit tremendously from conventions and events brought to our area. Attracting and retaining these happenings relies on the efforts of everyone in the hospitality industry.

Our newest Hometown Hospitality Heroes are Bill Ladd, this year’s President of the Arkansas Realtors Association (a native of Fort Smith) and Larry Rhodes, Convention Chairperson for the 2014 ARA Convention, “Saddle Up, Today’s Vision is Tomorrow’s Reality” which was held in Fort Smith September 14-17, 2014.

Bill Ladd - New

Bill Ladd

Larry Rhodes

Larry Rhodes

Bill and Larry are both united in their sentiments when they stated, “This year’s convention was a tremendous success. Many attendees and vendors said it was the best conference they had ever attended.” With 350+ attendees and 64 vendors including remodeling contractors, title companies, banks, mortgage companies and various home improvement craftsmen to say the event was well attended and diverse is an understatement. Larry said, “Our local Realtor affiliates really stepped up too support us, to help make the Fort Smith convention a big success.”

Bill said it was the best attended convention in 10 years and the last time the convention was held in Fort Smith. Bill Ladd was responsible for working with the realtor’s board to return to Fort Smith.

This year’s convention was the first realtor’s convention to provide a mobile app that helped to better connect all the attendees, speakers and vendors. The application included such features as the convention agenda, speaker’s and their backgrounds, an activity feed, awards and recognition, exhibitors list, sponsors, realtor of the year and more. People who downloaded this application can remain in contact via this app until the next year’s convention. This is an element that was so successful; they plan to continue it next year.

The opening night party was a unique affair held in the Park at West End and on the lawn behind 21 West End who catered the event. Both men felt that this was a remarkable setting that set the tone for a festive and productive conference. Everyone enjoyed great food and the “entertainment magic” that the park at West End offers in the evening. The convention agenda also included ARA committee meetings, speakers, vendors, receptions, Realtor of the Year banquet and dance, and the 2015 Inaugural banquet.

Room nights generated by Arkansas Realtors Convention were about 350 which resulted in a Direct Economic Impact of $52,500 the total economic impact created by the convention is approximately $157,500.

Fort Smith thanks Bill Ladd and Larry Rhodes for bringing The Arkansas Realtors Association Convention to our area!!!

Fort Smith and our region benefit tremendously from conventions and events brought to our area. Attracting and retaining these happenings relies on the efforts of everyone in the hospitality industry.

From left: Kermit Walsh and Jackie Hoffarth

Our newest Hometown Hospitality Heroes are Jackie Hoffarth, President of the Fort Smith Western Heritage Month and Kermit Walsh, Vice President of the Fort Smith Western Heritage Month. Fort Smith Western Heritage Month was conceptually designed to broaden the base of people who would be interested in attending the Old Fort Days Rodeo, an institution in the Fort Smith community and to bring downtown together to embrace and promote our rich western heritage. Rodeo chairperson, Ron Scamardo, tells us that, “all their efforts were successful with a huge group of committee members and individuals coming together to create a very memorable month of May and an incredible number of events. All of these had a positive impact on tourism in Fort Smith. Jackie had this vision and proceeded to recruit a committee of dedicated people who wanted to see Western Heritage Month come to be. Jackie worked extensively with all the rodeo people to build the event and the rodeo related activities.

Kermit tells us in reflective summary statement of the month, “Our first year of Fort Smith Western Heritage Month kicked off with the signing of the “Proclamation”, December 2, 2013 by Mayor Sanders on the gallows of the Fort Smith Historical Site.

Jackie and I had presentations with civic organizations from last July right up to May of this year.

It started with First Thursday, May 1, 2014 and a “Ready to Rodeo” reception at the Fort Smith Museum of History , featuring Denny Flynn, Executive Director of Kay Rodgers Park speaking of his years as a Professional Bull Rider.

May 3rd La Huerta’s Grill featured Country and Latin Music to Kick off Cinco de Mayo. May 2-4 was the Hanging Judge Cutting horse Competition competing for over $100,000 in prizes and money. The US Marshals Museum hosted the 2014 Safe Kids Fair with area law enforcement agencies and businesses fingerprinting, photographing and teaching ways to protect children. May 16 – 17th the Western Heritage Art Show held a reception to meet and greet the artists Friday evening and hold a show for the sale of western art Saturday. It was the first event held at the Old Frisco Station recently taken over by the Park Service and renovated by them. May 17th was a chilly and wet “Judge Parker’s Rope War”, a competitive tug of war between 10 local businesses with 10 members to a team. Rham Cunningham, owner of ThingsToDoInFortSmith.com hosted and MC’d this fun event enjoyed by all. Saturday evening, May 17th “Movies on the Green” played “The Cowboys” starring John Wayne at UAFS. May 17 thru 24 was The Old Fort Days Futurity and Derby, billed as the World’s Richest Barrel Race, with over 400 contestants from all over North America competing for several hundred thousand dollars in prize money.

Safe Kids Fair

Judge Parker’s Rope War

May 24 two Cowboy Mounted Shooting demonstrations were held north of Harry Kelly Park where the Marshals Museum will be. Billed as the fastest growing equine sport in America, Nationals Champion Kim Redo and her husband Bob put on a lively show with about 10 shooters. May 25th, Heath Wright & the Hangmen put on a free Old Fort Days Kick-Off Concert at Kay Rodgers Park. May 26th Immaculate Conception church started Memorial Day with a Pancake Breakfast from 6AM till 10 AM at which time the Old Fort Days Colordash down Garrison Avenue kicked off the 81st OFD Rodeo Parade with thousands of spectators lining the parade route and ending with the runners having a COLOR EXPLOSION at the finish line of the Fort Smith Convention Center. That evening began the six nights of the OFD PCRA Rodeo. Following the parade the Optimist Club put on a kids carnival in the parking lot next to the Old Town Club. The Lawbreakers and Peacemakers performed weekly at the Fort Smith Trolley Museum and opened the rope wars, the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Demos and did a reenactment at the start of the rodeo parade. Floyd and Sue Robinson made numerous appearances as Judge and Mrs. Isaac C. Parker.

Cowboy Mounted Shooting Demonstrators

The ColorDash – Color Explosion at the Fort Smith Convention Center

Annual Old Fort Days Rodeo Parade

Right after the parade, the Fort Smith Museum of History hosted a Cowboy gathering with western music and cowboy poets. May 28th the Museum hosted the Rodeo Queens and Dandies formal tea featuring current and former Rodeo Queens from Arkansas and Oklahoma and Dandies with programs from the rodeo dating back many years for the to reminisce about.

These month long activities show an outstanding community effort of many organizations and business coordinating under the leadership of the Fort Smith Western Heritage Month. Other officers of the organization include: Treasurer, Joan McCoy and Secretary Jennifer Miller, Media Specialists: Rham Cunningham and Thad Crawford. Marcie Jabor served as the Downtown Liaison for 2014, Jayne Hughes and Jim Spears were Masters of Ceremonies for the parade and both Claude Legris and Judge Jim Spears served as Directors at large.”

The direct economic impact of all of these events is difficult to calculate exactly. However, after giving it some thought, staff contacted Ron Scamardo, Old Fort Days Rodeo chair and obtained some relevant numbers. In 2013 the Old Fort Days Rodeo total attendance was just under 23,000. In 2014, the Rodeo attendance was increased to 39,500. This is an increase of 71%. Economic principals tell us that each event adds to the whole…so this multiple sequence of both old and new activities accomplished what was set out to do: broaden the demographic base to build attendance at the Old Fort Days Rodeo! For those of you who are numbers fans here are just a few. For the events that were held in 2013 in May leading up to the rodeo the total direct impact was $3,223,038. The indirect impact was $2,401,238. The total economic impact of the rodeo and lead up events was $5,624,276. These figures come from our nationally recognized economic software. If you take the final 5 million figure and increase that by 71%- this year’s lead up events and rodeo had a total economic impact of $9,617,512.

We thank Jackie Hoffarth, Kermit Walsh, and all the people who helped to make the first Fort Smith Western Heritage Month such a success. We appreciate their hard work in initiating and supporting the local efforts to bring the together a roster of events –which both individually and collectively made a significant contribution in the growth of our tourism revenues. Thanks Jackie and Kermit, for leading the parade and building the demographic and bringing the highest numbers in spectators and participants to be involved with our great Fort Smith tradition, the Old Fort Days Rodeo!!!

Old Fort Days Rodeo

You sent in your nominations for our 2014 GRIT (Giving Recognition in Tourism) Awards, the selection committee met, and now we here at the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau are happy to announce the finalists for our annual GRIT Awards! Remember, the GRIT Awards ceremony will be at Fort Smith’s venue, the MovieLounge, April 24th.

But enough about the ceremony–you want to see the finalists! Without further ado, the 2014 Fort Smith GRIT Award finalists by categories are:

Restaurant Partner of the Year:

Golden Corral

MovieLounge

River City Deli

Varsity Sports Grill

Lodging Partner of the Year:

Courtyard by Marriott

Holiday Inn City Center

Homewood Suites by Hilton

      Attraction Partner of the Year:

Chaffee Crossing Historic District

Fort Smith National Historic Site

Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center

Business Partner of the Year:

Belle Star Antiques

Brick City Emporium

E-Fort Smith Magazine

Polly Crews Hospitality Person of the Year:

Beth Templeton

Floyd and Sue Robison

John Bell Jr.

Suzi Stosberg

At the awards ceremony, we’ll also showcase the past year’s Hometown Hospitality Heroes, who have been highlighted each quarter in the City of Fort Smith‘s Fast Focus e-newsletter.  These recipients are:

The MovieLounge doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and the event is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Stay tuned for more information about the ceremony, and please help us send all of our finalists a huge congratulations!

Fort Smith and our region benefit tremendously from conventions and events brought to our area. Attracting and retaining these happenings relies on the efforts of everyone in the hospitality industry.

Our newest Hometown Hospitality Hero is Mike Alsup, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Fort Smith. Mike has been instrumental in bringing the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association (APRA), and the Arkansas Therapeutic Recreation Society to Fort Smith for three of the last five years. These two groups have held their annual conferences in March of 2010, March of 2013 and again this year in March of 2014.

Mike has a great deal of responsibility just in managing the 25 parks that encompass 273 acres in Fort Smith. Mike chose to join the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association in 2003, upon his arrival to Fort Smith as Director of Parks and Recreation for the City. He was a member of the group in Tennessee and has found his participation an invaluable resource for keeping current on parks resources for both materials and solutions to professional issues. The continued networking opportunities proved beneficial and Mike found the conferences were good in terms of both their educational classes and relationships with vendors who offer everything from architectural and engineering services to chemicals, mowing equipment, playground development and more!

In an effort to become more involved, Mike joined the Board of the ARPA group in 2007, became President Elect in 2008 and served as President of the Association the following year. As Past President, it was Mike’s responsibility to host the conference in 2010 and he says that it was a very positive experience for the groups.

Mike’s observations of their 2010 experience here were: 1) The convention facilities are very good 2) The pricing for meeting space as well as lodging were both very affordable and competitive 3) Fort Smith provides a central location for the majority of their group members since the majority of their group members are from both northwest Arkansas and the Little Rock area 4) Since the group likes to hire their own caterer they appreciate the flexibility that the Fort Smith Convention Center offers in allowing them to select from their extensive list of approved caterers.

Because of their positive experience here in Fort Smith, the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association and Arkansas Therapeutic Recreation Society chose to again stage both their 2013 and 2014 conferences here in Fort Smith.

The relationships that Mike has established over the years with these groups resulted in the mutual benefit of the groups enjoying a positive conference experience and significant economic gain for the City of Fort Smith. Each of the three conferences had about 200 + people in attendance. This resulted in about 321 combined room nights over the course of the three conventions.

The direct economic impact of the THREE conventions is $48,150. The total economic impact is $144,450.

Kitty Lane, Executive Director of the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association tell us: “Mike Alsup, ARPA Past President was very instrumental in the decision to bring the ARPA conference to Fort Smith for three years. Mike helped us negotiate pricing with the convention center to make the events affordable. Without the support of the Parks and Recreation Staff we would not have been able to make the events a success. Mike has been a tremendous support to our organization and we look forward to a continued partnership with the City of Fort Smith.”

 

The City of Fort Smith thanks Mike Alsup for his hard work in initiating and supporting the local efforts to bring the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association to Fort Smith in 2010, 2013 and 2014! Continuing in the tradition, Jennifer Oberste now serves as Recreation Superintendent has joined the ARPA board for 2013/2014. Our thanks to Mike’s staff who also supported and facilitated these events!

The Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) was selected as the winner of the COMMUNITY TOURISM DEVELOPMENT AWARD at the annual Henry Awards Banquet, at the conclusion of the 40th annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism on Tuesday, March 11, 2014.

 

Left to right:

Miss Arkansas Amy Crain; Claude Legris; Kellie McDaniel; Carolyn Joyce, Debra Cossey and Sherry Scorby, Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau; Richard Davies, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

 

The COMMUNITY TOURISM DEVELOPMENT AWARD is presented to a community or organization which has achieved substantial success toward the enhancement of its local resources through imaginative and innovative development efforts. The national publication “TRUE WEST” magazine ranked Fort Smith #1 on its list of True Western Towns of 2013. Fort Smith competed against over 200 cities including such Wild West legends as Dodge City, KS; Scottsdale, AZ and Durango, CO for the prestigious title.

 

The designation is “given to towns that have made an important contribution to preserving their Old West heritage,” thanks to the largely unpaid and often anonymous army of preservationists and historical society members who identify maintain and restore the                                             buildings and artifacts and irreplaceable relics of the fabled old west.

 

The Fort Smith CVB captured the top spot based on its extensive application detailing the town’s landmarks, restoration efforts, history, events and contributions to its preservation of western heritage and culture. The application’s success was achieved through the remarkable resolve of a dedicated group of people who worked with the Fort Smith CVB on a very short deadline to gather pertinent information for True West magazine’s ‘Top True Western Town of 2013′ application.

 

Fort Smith didn’t stop with just the recognition by True West. The award heightened enthusiasm for our town’s old western heritage and Fort Smith incorporated the 2013 recognition into most elements of its annual marketing campaign. A few examples include: news conferences and press releases to announce designation, request to True West magazine to design a specific logo for Fort Smith, redesign of all marketing elements (print, web, and outdoor media) to reflect the designation of Fort Smith as “Top True Western Town,” numerous radio talk shows, creation and distribution of point of purchase freestanding plaques, metal logo signs were created and erected at all street entrances to the city.

 

True West has again named Fort Smith to their list of Top Ten True Western Towns for the year 2014. Additionally, due to Fort Smith’s integration of the 2013 recognition into most elements of its annual marketing campaign True West has recognized the Fort CVB with their “Best Promotion of a Historic Place” award for the year 2014.

 

As Fort Smith’s official destination marketing organization, the Bureau is proud to be honored for the community’s contributions to Arkansas’ tourism industry with the Henry Award! The recognition is the result of decades of many volunteers embracing the City’s history and of preservation and sharing it’s Western roots!

 

The Henry Awards honor Henri de Tonti, the 17th century explorer considered one of the first “Arkansas Travelers.” The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism recognizes outstanding efforts in eight categories each year.

 

Our staff at the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau is rolling out the annual awards ceremony to recognize the brightest stars of Fort Smith’s growing tourism industry. On April 24, 2014 at the MovieLounge, the Fort Smith CVB will host an event announcing the businesses, organizations and individuals who have won this year’s GRIT awards—that’s GRIT, short for Giving Recognition In Tourism.

We know our community is saturated with excellence and with people working in creative and tireless ways to bring more visitors into our city and to ensure those visitors have a great time here. We believe something so important to Fort Smith’s future shouldn’t be a thankless job. These GRIT Awards are our way of publicly saying thanks to the people who have most earned our local tourism community’s respect and gratitude.

Before we can announce any winners, though, we need YOUR help selecting nominees to become finalists! You are the people in the trenches who see the people, attractions, restaurants and lodging establishments that are going above and beyond to promote Fort Smith as a destination. We are depending on you to submit nominations for our local stars that are breaking new ground in tourism in each of the following categories.

Finalists will be chosen by a committee of A&P staff from nominations received in the following categories:

Fort Smith GRIT Award: Restaurant Partner of the Year
Must be a restaurant or caterer located in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Must meet SOME or ALL of the following criteria:

  • Shows community involvement
  • Positively promotes Fort Smith
  • Demonstrates pride in Fort Smith heritage
  • Delivers quality service to visitors, tourists and convention groups
  • May occupy a unique niche as a tourist destination itself

Fort Smith GRIT Award: Lodging Partner of the Year
Must be a hotel, motel, or Bed & Breakfast located in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Must meet SOME or ALL of the following criteria:

  • Proactively draws people to Fort Smith through innovative custom sales and outreach
  • Shows community involvement
  • Positively promotes Fort Smith
  • Demonstrates pride in Fort Smith heritage
  • Delivers quality service to visitors, tourists and convention groups

Fort Smith GRIT Award: Attraction Partner of the Year Must be a tourist attraction located IN OR NEAR Fort Smith. Attractions in the immediately surrounding area including Eastern Oklahoma ARE eligible for this award. Must meet SOME or ALL of the following criteria:

  • Has events to promote themselves and Fort Smith
  • Continually improves and refreshes facilities, programs, or exhibits to create an exciting experience for visitors
  • Shows community involvement
  • Positively promotes Fort Smith
  • Demonstrates pride in Fort Smith heritage
  • Delivers quality service to visitors, tourists and convention groups

Fort Smith GRIT Award: Business Partner of the Year
Must be a business or corporation located in Fort Smith. Must meet SOME or ALL of the following criteria:

  • Demonstrates vision and leadership in the community regarding Fort Smith’s tourism future
  • Seeks opportunities to engage and support the Fort Smith tourism community
  • Positively promotes and represents Fort Smith
  • Demonstrates pride in Fort Smith heritage
  • Delivers quality service to visitors, tourists and convention groups

Fort Smith GRIT Award: Polly Crews Hospitality Person of the Year
Must meet SOME or ALL of the following criteria:

  • Individual who goes above and beyond to positively promote Fort Smith locally and beyond
  • Demonstrates pride in Fort Smith heritage
  • Demonstrates vision and leadership in the community regarding Fort Smith’s tourism future
  • Seeks opportunities to engage and support the Fort Smith tourism community

At the ceremony, we will also again recognize the past year’s Hometown Hospitality Heroes, who previously have been highlighted by the Fort Smith CVB in the City of Fort Smith’s Fast Focus e-newsletter and on our blog. Selected by the CVB staff, Hometown Hospitality Heroes are those local citizens who have worked with the Convention & Visitors Bureau to invite and host a large group of visitors in the Fort Smith area for a tournament, convention or special event.

The Not-So-Fine Print: How to Nominate Someone for a Fort Smith GRIT Award:

  • Nominations are due in writing by Friday, March 21 to the Fort Smith Convention and Visitors Bureau by e-mail, mail, fax or delivery in person to Miss Laura’s Visitor Center at 2 North B Street. Nominations are not accepted verbally or by phone.
  • To nominate finalists, simply write the GRIT Awards Selection Committee a description of why you believe this person or organization has earned recognition for their work supporting Fort Smith tourism. Supporting documentation/evidence of the nominee’s work in tourism may be submitted, but is not required.
  • Qualifying work must have taken place during the period from January 1, 2013 to March 21, 2014.

We know you’ve probably got someone in mind already in at least one of these categories. Why don’t you go ahead and shoot us an e-mail (tourism@fortsmith.org) with GRIT Awards in the subject line and tell us how awesome that someone is? Nominations may be also submitted online at fortsmithcvb.wordpress.com and facebook.com/ExperienceFortSmith or mailed to Miss Laura’s Visitor Center at 2 North B Street, Fort Smith, AR 72901.

Don’t forget! It’s always a good time to say thank-you, but we need all nominations by Friday, March 21, 2014.

Stay tuned in early April for the announcement of GRIT Awards finalists and details on how to get tickets for the awards ceremony Thursday, April 24 at MovieLounge. It’s going to be an incredible event!

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