Experience Olympia & Beyond Recognizes 2022 Thurston County Tourism Awards Nominees

The winners will be announced at the Annual State of Tourism Meeting on June 1

Submitted by Experience Olympia & Beyond

Experience Olympia & Beyond, the region’s visitor and convention bureau, has announced the nominees for the 2022 Thurston County Tourism Awards, which celebrate area leaders in hospitality and destination development. The winners are to be recognized at the Annual State of Tourism Meeting on Wednesday, June 1 at Indian Summer Golf & Country Club.

The awards aim to highlight people who unite the community, work tirelessly toward achieving a long-term vision and show exceptional hospitality to better the experience for visitors to Thurston County.

The nominees for the Thurston County Tourism Awards are as follows:

The Tourism Trailblazer Award

This individual brought new ideas and innovative ways of attracting visitors to Thurston County in the past 12 months. They took risks and thought “out of the box,” with the result being growing enthusiasm about visiting iconic destinations in the county.

  • Noah Aden, Yelm Cinemas
  • The Boo-Crew of the Boo-Coda Spook-Tacular Committee, including Bucoda’s 2021 mayor, Alan Carr; and 2022 mayor, Steve Purcell
  • Rebecca Catlett, Washington State Department of Enterprise Services
  • Stef Cicerello, Capital Mall
  • Osheea Davis, Heritage Distilling Company
  • Bernetia Johnson, Love Local Events LLC
  • Jeff Olive, Airport Golf & Batting Center
  • Line Roy, Yelm Chamber of Commerce

The Excellence in Hospitality Award

This individual is a frontline worker who put in the hours during the past 12 months, made all guests feel welcome and typified the attributes of a gracious and knowledgeable host. The result of their efforts created visitors eager to visit Thurston County again due to having experienced exceptional customer service.

  • Jo, Starbucks (340 Cleveland Ave. SE, Tumwater)
  • Khurshida Begum, ASHHO Cultural Community Center
  • Lori Bodnar, Great Wolf Lodge
  • Justin Bourdon, Wild Heart Sipping Vinegars and Sandstone Distillery
  • Amy Bueno, New Traditions Fair Trade
  • Connie Bunyer, Mystic Journeys Sailboat Charter
  • Bill Devore, 507 Taproom and Filling Station
  • Elyse Harrington, Elyse’s Catering
  • Shenna Hayden, Hands On Children’s Museum
  • Vanessa Nelson, The Washington Center for the Performing Arts
  • Cheryl Pearce, Sandstone Cafe in Tenino
  • George Sharp, Thurston County Economic Council

The Patrick Knutson Tourism Legend Award

This award honors a person who has served in the hospitality industry for ten or more years and either currently resides in or has roots in Thurston County. The award winner should exemplify the characteristics of leadership, innovation and stewardship in hospitality over the nominee’s lifetime.

  • Michelle Daniel, Department of Enterprise Services, Capitol Security and Visitor Services
  • George Johnson, Rainier City Council and We Love Rainier Washington Team
  • Elyse Harrington, Elyse’s Catering
  • Denise Hibbeln, Prairie Park
  • Gabi Shephard-Troutman, Gabi’s Olympic Cards & Comics
  • Christian Skillings, Iron Rabbit and Cynara
  • Don Trosper, retired from the Olympia Tumwater Foundation
  • Ruth Weigelt, Lacey Spring Fun Fair

Experience Olympia & Beyond would like to recognize sponsors of the annual meeting and Tourism Awards:

  • Olympia Oyster House
  • Budd Bay Café
  • River’s Edge
  • Pacific Northwest Honey Co.
  • Heritage Distilling Co., Tumwater
  • Sandstone Distillery
  • Juju’s Iced Cream & Frozen Custard
  • Indian Summer Golf & Country Club
  • Lacey South Sound Chamber
  • Heritage Bank
  • Hands On Children’s Museum
  • Port of Olympia

Tickets for the annual meeting are $40 in advance ($50 at the door). The event will begin at 3 p.m. with refreshments, including cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. The theme of the meeting is “A Mid-Century Modern Road Trip Through Thurston County,” and thematic attire is welcome.

For more information on the 2022 Tourism Awards, and for tickets to the annual meeting, please visit the Experience Olympia & Beyond website. 

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