Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development (IOTD) announced Friday the Hoosier Hospitality Awards at the Indiana State Fair.
Rachael Ackley, executive director of Shelby County Tourism, received a Hoosier Hospitality Award.
Ackley has helped organize events such as a NCAA cross country meet and a sanctioned Kansas City BBQ competition qualifier.
When Shelbyville had to cut down its historic Linden Tree, Ackley had the wood from the tree made into end tables and plaques for each of the major tourist sites for Shelbyville.
Ackley's nominator says that there is never a person that walks into the Shelby County Tourism and Visitor's Bureau that isn't glad they stopped by to have Rachael enthrall them with one of her famous vibrant and welcoming conversations.
Other Hoosier Hospitality Award winners were Sherry Bridges (Crothersville Red, White and Blue Festival), Raymond Brown (Hilton Garden Inn, Edinburgh), Tamara Ealum (Holiday Inn Evansville Airport), Marilyn Jackson (Owen County Tourism), Vickie Johnson and Karla Hoehn (Holiday Inn Express-Dunn, Benton County), Crystal King (Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Edinburgh), Brenda Manns (Ameristar East Chicago), Jim Mansfield (Muncie Visitors Bureau), Scott Miller (Miller's Buggy Line, Shipshewana), Khiana Peterson (Ameristar East Chicago), Todd Walker (Indianapolis Airport Authority), and Dawn Wenzel and Alysha Mardis (Fairfield Inn & Suites, Valparaiso).
"Our Hoosier Hospitality Award recipients represent the best of our state from the tourism industry," said Misty Weisensteiner, director of the IOTD. "These individuals dedicate their time and service to showcase to visitors and their communities what a great place Indiana is to work, live and visit."
In addition to the Hoosier Hospitality Awards, Lt. Governor Crouch presented Steve Ferguson, Cook Group Chairman of the Board, with the Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership Award.
At the Cook Group, Ferguson is heavily involved with building restoration. Many of these projects have been in Bloomington, but the crown jewel was about a decade ago with the creation of French Lick Resort. Tourism traffic was growing sparse at French Lick Springs Hotel and the West Baden Hotel sat empty for over 70 years.
"Steve Ferguson revived the historic hotel property. He also hired legendary architect, Pete Dye, to design a championship golf course in the hills of the Hoosier National Forest and today, French Lick is one of America's premier resort destinations," said Crouch in a media release. "Ferguson's dedication, leadership and passion are what it took to propel French Lick and out state to the next level in tourism and development."
The Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership Award is presented annually and is the highest tourism honor given by the state. The award is named for the late Will Koch, long-time owner and president of Holiday World & Splashin' Safari. The Indiana Office of Tourism Development and the Koch family established the honor to pay tribute to Koch's many meaningful contributions to tourism, business and society.