Pay Tribute To Local Tourism & Hospitality Heroes 2023 Tourism Awards Nominees Announced

Help recognize Thurston County tourism and hospitality heavy hitters on June 1, 2023, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at the Hands on Children’s Museum.


Submitted by Experience Olympia & Beyond

Experience Olympia and Beyond, Thurston County’s visitor and convention bureau, is proud to announce the names of the nominees for the 2023 Tourism Awards, being handed out at the organization’s celebratory Annual Meeting on June 1, 2023 from 5:30 p.m. -7:30 p.m. at the Hands on Children’s Museum.

“The individuals receiving awards this year are examples of Thurston’s County’s finest” explains Annette Pitts, CEO of Experience Olympia & Beyond. “Each were nominated by their peers in the industry, and are known to be at the top of their game demonstrating the highest standards of customer service, creativity, innovation, and of course, hospitality.”

All nominees were reviewed, voted on and selected by the Experience Olympia & Beyond Board of Directors. Individuals nominated for the awards this year include the following:


This individual brought bold, 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”, and the result is growing enthusiasm about visiting the iconic destinations in Thurston County.

  • Alicia Elliott, West Central Park Neighborhood Center
  • Wayne Fournier, City of Tenino Mayor
  • Christen Greene, Team-Tomorrow
  • Mitch Lewis, Summit Farms
  • Ryan Perkins, Oly Town Artesians Soccer Club / Olympia Ballroom
  • Janine Phillips, Hampton Inn & Suites
  • Donna Taylor-Mayo, Of Water, Wind and Woods


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 creates a visitor who is eager to return and visit Thurston County again due to their exceptional customer service.

  • Jamie Brayshaw, Octapas Café
  • Emily Dunn, The Marie Bed & Breakfast
  • Wayne Fournier, City of Tenino Mayor
  • Christen Greene, Team-Tomorrow
  • Sofie Landis, Sofie’s Scoops
  • Jay Potter, Hands On Children’s Museum
  • Mark Sand, Ashley Creek Farm
  • Matt Trotter, Well 80


The Patrick Knutson Tourism Legend Award honors an individual who has served in the hospitality industry for 10+ years and either currently resides in or has roots in Thurston County. The award winner exemplified the characteristics of leadership, innovation, and stewardship in hospitality over his or her lifetime.

  • Patty Belmonte, Hands On Children’s Museum
  • Christen Greene, Team-Tomorrow
  • Andy Moreno, CapCity Presents
  • Carol Riley, Olympia Harbor Days Festival
  • George Sharp, Thurston EDC
  • Christian Skillings, Cynara and Iron Rabbit

The 2023 Annual Meeting celebrates Thurston County’s creative spirit and honors those that contribute to the growing travel and tourism industry. This year’s theme is PopArt Party! and is presented by the Port of Olympia and supporting sponsors including Olympia Oyster House, Hands On Children’s Museum, Budd Bay Café and River’s Edge. This year’s event will pay tribute to the region’s diverse and ever-growing creative arts scene featuring the vintage sound stylings of Music De-Lite, aerial performances from Wings Aerial Acrobats, a scavenger hunt/art crawl, and a group painting project for all to participate in. Local culinary artists will provide food and beverages to complete the evening featuring OlymPita, The Oysterboys of Perkins Family Farms, Jerk An Tingz, Simple and Delicious Donuts and beverages served by Budd Bay Café. The evening will also deliver an annual State of Tourism update from the Experience Olympia and Beyond team.

Tickets can be purchased here. RSVP required.

For more information on Experience Olympia and Beyond, including regional events and a listing of Thurston County businesses and travel itineraries, please visit the Experience Olympia & Beyond website.

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