There is an annual event in Fort Smith that honors those who demonstratetrue grit. . Once again, our staff at the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau is excited to recognize the brightest stars of our city’s growing tourism industry. At 5:30 p.m. on April 23, 2015, “The 4th Annual Giving Recognition In Tourism (GRIT) Awards,” take place at the Movie Lounge, located at 7601 Rogers Ave. in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

In the meantime, we need your help to nominate organizations, businesses and individuals as our finalists. Fort Smith has been blessed with a community that is full of creative men and women who strive to promote our city as a destination, attract visitors and tourists, and ensure that everyone has a great time. It is through their efforts – along with the support of the community – that Fort Smith’s tourism industry will continue to not only grow, but also prosper.

The GRIT Awards are our way of showing our most heartfelt and sincerest thanks to the people who have earned the respect and gratitude of the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau, the community, and all who are a part of our region’s tourism community.

We are depending on you to submit nominations in each of the following categories:

What is romance? If you’re like most people – by “people” we mean men – you probably don’t spend too much time thinking about what the definition of romance is. In fact, as some of you read this, perhaps you’ve been struggling with how to plan the upcoming Valentine’s Days. Yes, that’s plural…DAYS! Incase you didn’t know, this year Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday, which means you have an entire weekend to get romantic with that special someone. So, back to our original question: what is romance? According to Urban Dictionary, romance is when you remind someone why they love you in the first place by offering kind gestures, like…making them a sandwich. In literature, romance is encapsulated by any event that is especially adventurous and/or mysterious, which leads the characters to attach an emotion to the memory of a special event in their lives. While we cannot recommend unexpected sandwich-making (sweet as it may be) as a Valentine’s Day suggestion, we can offer some ideas on how to plan an adventurous Valentine’s Day weekend that your significant other will remember for years to come. Nothing is more romantic than the history of The Old South, which is why a weekend getaway in Fort Smith, Arkansas is the perfect fit. As the original gateway to The Wild West, this border town is full of mystery, history and romance. Here are a few suggestions on what you could do in Fort Smith, Arkansas this Valentine’s Day.

1. Experience Fort Smith’s History


Built in 1903 by Virginia-native Laura Ziegler, what was originally called The Riverfront Hotel quickly became known throughout the United States as one of the best bordellos in the Southwest. Located on The Row of Fort Smith’s infamous red light district, Miss Laura’s is rumored to have been frequented by some the most famous outlaws in American History, including: Belle Star, Cherokee Bill, The Rufus Buck Gang, The James, Dalton and Younger Gangs, and more. In 1911, Miss Laura sold her bordello to an employee, Bertha Dean, who ran it legally until prostitution was outlawed in 1924. Then, she continued to run it illegally until her death in 1948. After that, ownership exchanged hands several times until it was purchased by The City of Fort Smith. Today, it is the only bordello included in The National Register of Historic Places, and it houses The Fort Smith Visitor’s Center. It only makes sense that you visit Fort Smith, Arkansas’ original house of romance, where Miss Laura’s brothel continues to cater to out-of-towners! While you’re here, be sure to ask one of the history-loving volunteers about the many historic sites in the area or what other ideas they might have for your weekend getaway.

Click here to find out more about Miss Laura’s Social Club and other area attractions in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

2. Dinner Excursion: Romance on the Rails


Planning a Valentine’s Day dinner that will truly impress your date is possibly the most daunting task you’ll face in the month of February, at least when it concerns the future success or soon-to-come failure of your relationship!!! Let us make this easy for you. What could be more unique than a romantic dinner-for-two inside a leisurely 1920’s vintage pullman coach as you travel alongside the Arkansas River and the through the scenic Ozark Mountains? Answer: Nothing

Okay, go ahead and check “plan perfect dinner” off of your to-do list. You’re welcome. If you cannot make it to dinner, you’re in luck. You can still treat your date to an adventure on the rails from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and travel over the Arkansas River Bridge, through the foothills of the Boston Mountains, across three high trestles (approx. 120 ft high) and through the 1700 ft tunnel at Winslow. Includes lunch, chips, drink, and dessert.

For more information on Romance on the Rails and/or The Arkansas & Missouri Railroad just click here!

3. Performing Arts: Pride & Prejudice


Opposites attract, right? Well, Jane Austen clearly felt that they did when she wrote, “Pride and Prejudice,” which has become one of the most well-known romantic comedies of all time. This adaptation by Jon Jory pulls from the novel’s  favorited pages to highlight the most impactful moments of Austen’s classic tale. It will be romantic, but it will also be funny. Regardless of your preference, you can enjoy this on-stage adaptation. In an article by Scott Smith of The Times Record, Director Duff Taylor sums it up by saying, “In the story, one character is saying to another character, ‘your family are a bunch of hood rats, but I’ve fallen in love with you, and I don’t know why.’” Like we said, opposites attract!

For more information on the play and how to buy tickets, click here!

4. Post Winery Valentine’s Day Dinner & Wine Pairing


Let’s be honest…alcohol makes any high-pressure dating situation run a lot smoother. However, this is Valentines Day Days we’re talking about, so it’s time to class it up. Nothing says “classy” quite like a decanter full of vino. So, this makes taking a trip over to Post Winery’s Valentines Day Dinner & Wine Pairing an obvious choice. Enjoy a romantic, five course dinner at the Trellis Room at Post Winery, prepared by Chef Terese Post. First, though, take a tour of the winery and participate in a wine tasting with winemaker, Luke Holcomb, and wine specialist, Lee Green.

Click here for more information on Post Winery and their Valentine’s Day Dinner & Wine Pairing!

5. Nightlife…YEAH!


Fort Smith isn’t just one of the largest cities in Arkansas, it is also one of the oldest. As the original gateway to The Old West, Fort Smith accumulated quite a broad collection of some of the liveliest bars, lounges and night clubs in Arkansas. From casual pubs to live music venues, there is something here for everyone. They didn’t coin the phrase, “southern hospitality,” for just any reason, and it is our specialty in Fort Smith. Things have calmed down since the earlier days of this city, but a focus on entertaining out-of-owners is something that still exists in Fort Smith.

For a list of nightlife venues in Fort Smith, Arkansas just click here!

Who’d have thought Valentine’s Day planning could be so easy…Well, we did, but that’s because we live in Fort Smith, Arkansas! Happy Valentine’s Day, and we can’t wait for you to experience Fort Smith!

CLICK HERE for a list of places to stay while visiting Fort Smith, Arkansas!

Fort Smith Prosecuting Attorney Dan Shue helped bring the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorneys Association conventions to Fort Smith, having a significant economic impact on the city.

Fort Smith Prosecuting Attorney Dan Shue helped bring the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorneys Association conventions to Fort Smith, having a significant economic impact on the city.

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, and in our community. Community members who help bring conventions and events to Fort Smith are an important part of this! Each quarter, the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau names one such proactive person a Hometown Hospitality Hero. All our Hometown Hospitality Heroes receive recognition on our blog, in the City of Fort Smith’s Fast Focus newsletter, in our social media, and annually at our big GRIT Awards ceremony. These people are awesome, so tell them you appreciate their efforts!

Our newest Hometown Hospitality Hero is Daniel Shue, Prosecuting Attorney for the City of Fort Smith and also President of Arkansas Prosecuting Attorney’s Association (APAA) for 2014. Dan is responsible for bringing the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorney’s Association here to Fort Smith in both 2012 and 2014.

This year’s event was held October 15 through October 17, 2014.

Dan has served as the elected Prosecuting Attorney since January 1, 2009, has served as Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for 6 years, and has served as Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for 13 years.  Shue was also in private practice for 6 years and has a total of 30 years experience as an attorney.

After serving one year as the Prosecuting Attorney for Fort Smith, he joined the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorney’s Board in 2010. It was at this time Dan began suggesting Fort Smith as the site for their next conference. In the 40 year history of the APAA, it had never held a conference in Fort Smith. Both the fall conferences for 2012 and 2014 were held in Fort Smith because Dan took the initiative to put forth Fort Smith as their convention site. Some additional impetus to that which created a “perfect storm” of sorts was that Dan was elected President of the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorney’s Association in 2014 so
it seemed particularly fitting that the convention be held here.

Attendees were impressed with our abundance of history and historic sites. They were pleased to discover many wonderful restaurants including 21 West End. From a legal standpoint, attendees were amazed at the extent of legal history in our area as well as the fact that the United States District Court in Fort Smith exercised legal jurisdiction over the entire Oklahoma Territory. Another “favorite’ of Fort Smith’s attractions was the Belle Grove Historic District and the Fort Smith National Historic Site.

Many of the Convention attendees participated in a historic reenactment of an actual trial that originally occurred in Judge Parker’s court room. This reenactment was held in the beautiful old courtroom in the Sebastian County Courthouse, built in the 1930s. It was both entertaining and informative to see justice delivered as it was in the 1800s.

Dan commented that America is about choices…and he chooses to live and raise his family in Fort Smith!

He was so pleased to hear attendees say great things about his hometown…everyone thoroughly enjoyed Fort Smith. He talks about the fact that people in law work with things that are broken: contracts, marriages and laws. It was so refreshing for the association members to experience the natural beauty of our area and hospitality of the people.

The opening party was held at 21 West End where everyone enjoyed a great dinner. The APAA Advisory Committee party was a unique affair whose theme was Halloween, since Halloween was just around the corner….everyone came in costume. Both of these elements added fun and “magic” to the conference.

Room nights generated by Arkansas Prosecuting attorneys were about 175, which resulted in a Direct Economic Impact of $26,250 for the 2014 convention. Total Economic Impact created by the convention is approximately $79,000. If you double that to include the 2012 convention your economic impact is about $158,000. Thanks Daniel Shue for bringing the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorney’s Association Conventions to our area! Not to mention–2016 looks promising!

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

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.


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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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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


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!


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