The Thurston County Tourism Awards were presented by Port of Olympia Commissioner Bill McGregor at the annual State of Tourism meeting on May 22 at Great Wolf Lodge.
The awards, which are given out by Experience Olympia & Beyond, recognize “tourism superheroes and highlight individuals who unite the community, work tirelessly towards achieving a long-term vision, or show exceptional hospitality to better the experience for visitors and tourism in Thurston County.”
Three awards were presented: the Community Unity Award, the Tourism Visionary Award, and the Excellence in Hospitality Award.
The Community Unity Award, which honors those who work hard to foster collaboration within local communities, went to Robby Rutledge of Rutledge Corn Maze. Rutledge was recognized for highlighting the Thurston Bountiful Byway by uniting different farms, makers, and natural attractions along the 60-mile scenic route.
The Tourism Visionary Award, given to one person whose commitment and accomplishments “set the stage for regional tourism,” was presented to Tenino Mayor Wayne Fournier. Fournier has helped to make Tenino a destination with actions like installing visitor signs throughout the town, providing hospitality to movie crews, and involving the local media in intriguing stories like the Tenino Quarry Pool.
The Excellence in Hospitality Award, which goes to a particularly invaluable local hospitality professional, was presented to Zoe Wells of La Petite Maison. Wells provides a destination dining experience, complete with warmth, hospitality, and French cuisine.
The tourism awards were cut from Legion Way oak trees into the shape of Thurston County.