The Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau is pleased to announce this year’s Giving Recognition in Tourism (GRIT) Award recipients. The GRIT Awards were presented at the MovieLounge on the evening of April 23, 2015. Attendance was at a record-high, this year, as were the amount of nominations received in each category. The event serves to showcase the accomplishments of finalists who demonstrated GRIT – within the area’s growing hospitality and tourism profession – through the dedication of their time, energy and expertise.
During the awards ceremony, the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau also honored the past year’s Hometown Hospitality Heroes, who had all been highlighted in City of Fort Smith’s Fast Focus e-newsletter for positively impacting area tourism through efforts related to hosting or bringing conventions to the city in 2014 and early 2015. Hometown Hospitality Honorees, included:
Kermit Walsh & Jackie Hoffarth
For their efforts in the development of Fort Smith Western Heritage Month and related events.
Bill Ladd & Larry Rhodes
For their efforts in bringing the Arkansas Realtors Association convention to Fort Smith.
For his efforts in bringing the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorneys Association conventions to Fort Smith
For his efforts and leadership in the development of the very first Fort Smith Marathon.
For his efforts in bringing the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing convention to Fort Smith.
Restaurant Partner of the Year: Bricktown Brewery
Above: Kris Cox, Kathy Young, Buck Warfield
Not the new kid on the block, but one of the newest looking eateries on the 300th block of Garrison Avenue! Kathy Young and her staff work hard to meet the needs of visitors, even offering to assist with ground breaking of the Marshals Museum while the restaurant was still under renovation!
Lodging Partner of the Year: Comfort Inn & Suites
Above: Jacon Janssen, Latisha Malone, Connie Trammell, Desiree F. Arizmendi,
Manish Patel, Priscilla Rashidi, Ronika Morgan
Comfort Inn & Suites has developed a loyal following of clients with their special brand of Fort Smith service. Located just off of I-540, Comfort Inn & Suites is popular with both tourists and motor coach groups. When it comes time for a sports event of any kind, many of the same teams are quick to make reservations with their favorite hotel in Fort Smith.
Attraction Partner of the Year: Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Committee
Above: Lorie Robertson, Ivy Owen, Janet Menshek, Joseph Chasteen, UAFS Chancellor Dr. Paul Berran
Who doesn’t know about the tremendous accomplishments of the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority? Because of their continuous efforts, Chaffee Crossing has become an ever-expanding element of the Fort Smith landscape and a mecca for Fort Smith tourists.
Business Partner of the Year: Mercy Hospital Fort Smith
Above: Patrick Pendleton & Ryan Gehrig
Not only have they provided medical care to the public, but their staff of healthcare professionals have taken lead rolls in the very creation and improvement of almost every facet of our community. Always a community partner, they work hard to bring tourist to Fort Smith by creating events like The Mercy Classic and by serving as the driving force behind the very first Fort Smith Marathon, which took place this past Februaury.
Polly Crews Hospitality Person of the Year: Robert Westphal Family
Above: Bennie Westphal
Some may not have met Fort Smith business leader, Robert Westphal, but they probably feel like they have because of the families generosity and enthusiasm in taking lead roles — both individually and as a family — to make Fort Smith the city that it is, today. They even offered land for the U.S. Marshals museum, which is just a small reminder of all that this family has done — and continues to do — for Fort Smith.
Following the awards ceremony, attendees continued to celebrate the successes of Fort Smith’s Hospitality & Tourism Industry. Congratulations to this year’s Hometown Hospitality Heroes, GRIT Award Finalists, and GRIT Award Winners. Thanks for all that you do!
SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM THE 2015 GRIT AWARDS:
2015 GRIT AWARDS PHOTO ALBUM