State heaps tourism awards on three from Eureka Springs

Friday, March 14, 2008

EUREKA SPRINGS -- This city's tourism industry earned several statewide awards Tuesday night.

The 2008 Henry Award ceremony wrapped up the annual Governor's Conference on Tourism, which was held March 9 through 11 in Rogers.

The Bootstrap Award was presented to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, and The Crescent Hotel's Bill Ott earned the Outstanding Volunteer Service Award. Marvin Peterson, director of operations at the Great Passion Play, was one of two people inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame.

Peterson said he felt "honored and blessed" by the distinction, and added, "From early on, I've been called to serve, and I serve to make a difference."

He has been with the Passion Play for 29 years. The upcoming season will mark the 40th anniversary of the Play, which will debut on May 2 with a new script and new scenes.

Eureka Springs won two of the eight major awards presented Tuesday night, and Peterson said this was symptomatic of "a renewed enthusiasm for tourism in Eureka Springs." He also remarked on his pride at seeing the contingent from the Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce wearing their red shirts.

Mayor Dani Joy echoed these sentiments, saying, "For the first time in years Eureka Springs was honored not once, but three times last night at the Governor's Conference on Tourism. My sincere congratulations go out to Marvin Peterson, Bill Ott, and Turpentine Creek for their well-deserved recognition. We as a community are very fortunate to be blessed with such gifted and dedicated individuals. I am very proud of them all."

The Bootstrap Award is presented annually to an individual, organization or community that has achieved significant success "on a shoestring," having limited means to work with, either in resources or finances.

The Outstanding Volunteer Service Award is presented annually to a community, individual or organization that, through outstanding volunteer spirit, has made a substantial contribution to Arkansas's tourism industry. Ott is Director of Marketing and Communications for the Crescent and Basin Park Hotels.

The Henry Awards have been a tradition at the Governor's Conference on Tourism since 1981. The awards are named for Henri de Tonti, founder of Arkansas Post in 1686. He is often considered the first "Arkansas Traveler."

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