BROOKINGS – The Brookings Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) announced the 2019 Tourism Award Winners at the annual Tourism Celebration, held May 8 at Club 71 inside Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.
The event was a collaboration with the South Dakota Department of Tourism and their Spring Hospitality Training with professional speaker Laurie Guest. The annual celebration honors the tourism industry in Brookings by recognizing all the businesses, organizations and individuals that help “Make Tourism Happen,” in Brookings.
The first award presented was the Tourism Extra Mile Award, established to recognize an organization or individual who has made major contributions to generating visitors and going the “extra mile” to advance the tourism industry in Brookings. The 2019 Tourism Extra Mile Award winner was the South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum. This dedicated team of historians is constantly fine-tuning their strategy to better reach and attract visitors, whether it’s tackling a rebranding effort or creating exhibits that better connect our South Dakota heritage to our South Dakota future.
“The entire crew understands tourism, what it takes to create magical moments, and is willing to try new things. They’ve been such a great partner with the CVB and continue to elevate the visitor experience. Watch out Brookings, this hidden gem is going for the gold,” said Emily Braun, marketing and communications coordinator for the CVB.
The second award presented was the Tourism Organization of the Year Award, established to recognize organizations that have significantly added to the tourism product, increased tourism in the Brookings area, and have achieved sustained excellence in the visitor industry.
The 2019 Tourism Organization of the Year award winner was the South Dakota Art Museum. For almost 50 years, this organization has been the curator of South Dakota art. Boasting seven spacious galleries and a collections archive of more than 7,000 works of art, the South Dakota Art Museum has been surprising and delighting audiences with signature exhibits that draw visitors from across the globe. “To walk through those doors is to be transported to a place of wonder, an experience made possible by dedicated stewards, provoking exhibits, and the gratitude of an enriched community,” said Michael Johnson, CVB board member.
The third award presented was the Volunteer of the Year Award, established to recognize individuals that have sacrificially given of their time and talent to aid in programs and initiatives of the CVB, helping advance the organizational mission and elevate the Brookings tourism industry. The winner of the 2019 Volunteer of the Year award was Todd Stratmoen. For the past five years, Stratmoen has been quietly, diligently, and consistently helped local sporting associations not only execute events, but secure event support utilizing the CVB Event Grant. “Todd’s organization and budget skills are next level. His attention to detail and connection to the mission of the CVB helped both our organization and the organization he was helping find a common goal, bringing visitors to Brookings and ensuring their experience was a memorable one,” said Jennifer Johnson, executive director of the CVB. Todd Stratmoen was unable to attend, therefore his wife Royanna Stratmoen accepted the award on his behalf.
The fourth and final award presented was the Larson Family Tourism Champion Award, named in honor of the Larson family in regard to all the community contributions this Brookings family has made. This award is meant to recognize individuals who have worked tirelessly to spread the message and garner support for tourism. They see the big picture of how teamwork and sharing resources can benefit our overall tourism product.
The 2019 Larson Family Tourism Champion Award winner was the Johnson Family in honor of Bob Johnson. This years’ award honors the legacy of an individual who helped develop Brookings as a wrestling destination and encouraged community leaders to see the bigger picture when it came to the visitor industry.
“Bob was a persistent and perennial champion for youth sports and the city of Brookings. He was a great example what can happen when you commit yourself to a cause and are willing to work toward it,” said Tom Richter, Swiftel Center.
The Brookings Tourism Awards were established in 2013, with the addition of the Volunteer of the Year Award in 2016, selected by the staff of the Brookings CVB. Past winners include:
Extra Mile Award
• 2017/2018: Brookings Futbol Club
• 2016: Brookings Ice Skating Association (BISA)
• 2015: Brookings Wrestling Association
• 2014: Justin Sell, South Dakota State University Athletic Director
• 2013: Jim Lerdal with the Friends of Baseball organization
Tourism Facility/Organization of the Year Award
• 2017/2018: McCrory Gardens
• 2016: Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex & Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium
• 2015: Children’s Museum of South Dakota
• 2014: Swiftel Center
• 2013: Brookings Summer Arts Festival
Larson Family Tourism Champion Award
• 2017/2018: Jeff Weldon
• 2016: Tim Reed
• 2015: Scott Meyer
• 2014: Midwest Supercross/The Pederson Family (Doc, Jesse and Dustin)
• 2013: The Fergen Family in honor of Dick Fergen
Volunteer of the Year Award
• 2017/2018: Barb Hult and Vi Dorn
• 2016: Ashley Abrahamson, Swiftel Center