GRIT Awards honor tourism contributions
The GRIT Awards, "Giving Recognition In Tourism" were held April 19 at the new Movie Lounge in Fort Smith, giving guests and honorees a sneak preview of Fort Smith's newest entertainment venue.
Held by the Fort Smith Advertising and Promotion Commission, the Grit Awards were given to individuals, groups and businesses to recognize innovation and achievement in to the city's tourism and hospitality industry and attractions.
Master of ceremonies Claude Legris, with the assistance of Mayor Sandy Sanders and Sherry Scorby of the CVB, bestowed awards in nine categories during the celebration that included a cocktail reception and dinner prepared by Chef Will Greenwood.
More than 100 guests and honorees dined in the supper club and lounge area during the multi-media program, with the award nominees displayed on the lounge's multiple screens. The Movie Lounge's maître d' and waitstaff provided gracious and excellent service.
Dwight Curry and Lynn Curry Weidman, the Movie Lounge's owners and developers, welcomed the guests to tour the venue, which includes three cinemas, capacious dining areas and two bars. Dwight Curry spoke during the ceremony, sharing the excitement and anticipation he and his sister Lynn share about their upcoming May 1 opening.
The nominees and winners were chosen by an anonymous committee to recognize innovation and achievement in the Fort Smith hospitality industry.
And the winners are:
2012 Hometown Hospitality Heroes
Ian Bullock of the Fort Smith Tideriders for his work with the competitive swim team and for attracting the Arkansas State Swim Meet to Fort Smith
Roy and Juanita Culverson for their work with the Southern Bowling Congress in bringing a major tournament of the Southern Bowling Congress to the area.
Jayne Hughes and Maggie Rice of the City of Fort Smith staff for their work in hosting the 2012 Arkansas Preservation Conference here.
John Martini for his work in the establishment and ongoing support of the BEST Robotics Conference and student competition held annually in Fort Smith.
Restaurant Partner of the Year
Taliano's Italian Restaurant, owners Jim Cadelli and Tom Caldarera
Lodging Partner of the Year
Holiday Inn City Center
Attraction Partner of the Year
The W.H.H. Clayton House. Director Julie Moncrief accepted the award on behalf of the Clayton House's organization.
Business Partner of the Year
Forward Fort Smith, a citizen-initiated group created in 2011 for the common cause of positive progress. organization formed in 2011. Susan Todd Krafft accepted the award on behalf of all its members.
Polly Crews Hospitality Person of the Year
Two awards were presented in a tie to Jennifer and Ben Boulden and the late Bert Wright. The Bouldens were recognized for Jennifer's work with the Fort Smith CVB as its former communications director and Ben's contributions as a reporter and columnist at the Southwest Times Record. The Bouldens have recently moved to Little Rock.
The late Bert Wright of Fort Smith was recognized for his long-time volunteer work to improve downtown Fort Smith's appearance and his contributions to downtown landscaping, park areas and public celebrations with seasonal banners on Garrison Avenue. Wright was a driving force in creating Fort Smith's civic Fourth of July celebrations and other public events. Dr. John Wright, Bert's son, accepted the award on behalf of the Wright family.
After dinner, guests toured the Movie Lounge's three cinemas and additional banquet and party areas. Two large-screen theaters and an intimate cinema lounge will offer patrons the opportunity to enjoy dinner in the supper club, followed by a movie or the enjoyment of watching a film with bar service and orders from the in-cinema menu. Spacious dining areas are available for social events and private parties configured for large or small groups.