Congratulations GRIT (Giving Recognition In Tourism) Award Recipients!!!

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 Convention & Visitors Bureau is pleased to announce this year’s GRIT Award recipients. The GRIT Awards were presented April 19th. More than 100 people attended the premier, opening event for the MovieLounge, Fort Smith’s newest attraction/restaurant partner. This gathering was to showcase accomplishments the nominees and recipients have made to assist our community and celebrate a job well done in the local hospitality industry.

The Convention & Visitors Bureau announced the recipients from the region’s growing tourism industry by category:


  • Restaurant Partner of the Year :  Taliano’s Italian Restaurant
  • Lodging Partner of the Year:  Holiday Inn City Center
  • Attraction Partner of the Year: Clayton House
  • Business Partner of the Year: Forward Fort Smith
  • Polly Crews Hospitality Person of the Year:  (a tie) Ben and Jennifer Boulden & Bert Wright

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. These recipients were, Ian Bullock, for Tideriders and the State Swim Meet, Roy and Juanita Culverson for their work in bringing the Southern Bowling Congress to Fort Smith, Jayne Hughes and Maggie Rice, for their work in obtaining the Arkansas Preservation Conference, and John Martini of the University of Arkansas Fort Smith, for bringing the annual Best Robotics Competition to Fort Smith.

Advertising & Promotion Commission Executive Director, Claude Legris, presided over the awards ceremony with the help of Mayor Sandy Sanders and Sherry Scorby of the CVB. Prior to the awards presentation guests were treated to an array of appetizers prepared by MovieLounge Executive Chef Will Greenwood, former White House chef.

Following the awards presentation, guests were welcomed by MovieLounge owner, Dwight Curry, to take a guided tour of the new dinner-cinema-event space.  And one can only guess which cinema classics were playing in each theatre at the MovieLounge?  Well “True Grit” (both the old and the new) of course!


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