Updated: Feb 17
The City of Shawnee’s Department of Tourism and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation took top honors at the Oklahoma Travel Industry Association’s Red Bud Awards, Tuesday, June 14th at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City. The Red Bud Awards are the highest level of tourism awards given in the State of Oklahoma.
Shawnee’s Director of Tourism, Stacy Cramer Moore, became emotional as the City of Shawnee was named Oklahoma’s Tourism Organization of the Year. “In 2019, the City took a huge step in developing tourism when it created the department under city leadership. There have been many hurdles as we build a solid foundation to grow private and public tourism revenues. Tourism finally has the broad base of resources to discuss, plan and implement projects that not only increase tourism, but also visitor enjoyment and community pride. I am so thankful to our partners that helped us over these few years. This is a huge night for us to be presented this award by our colleagues and peers in the travel industry.”
Another emotional moment happened, as the Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s (CPN) FireLake Fireflight Balloon Fest was named Oklahoma’s Best Event. Fireflight Balloon Fest is in its fifth year and takes place south of Shawnee at the CPN Pow Wow grounds.
Jennifer Bell, CPN Public Information Officer, was there to accept the award. “We work so hard to make this the best event for our tribal citizens, our community, and our guests. Considering all of the top tier events taking place in Oklahoma, this is thrilling. We plan to continue to improve upon the event and hope to become Oklahoman’s most anticipated event each year.”
Other awards of note for the evening, the City of Shawnee was recognized for Outstanding Tourism Website for their 2021 complete revision to VisitShawnee.com utilizing software developed by Shawnee Travel Industry Communications Manager Erica Bass, with contractors Astro Panda Studios and Cyber Blacksmith, all of Shawnee.
The Merit Award for Best Publication under $10,000 went to the city for a collection of pieces highlighting niche markets including, Fly to Shawnee, Vintage/Resale, 5 Casinos – 4 Tribes – 1 City, Twin Lakes, and 10 Things to Do in Shawnee.
“The community of Shawnee has really come together. This is a great example of the City and Tribe working together towards common goals and how much we can achieve. We barely sat down and got called up for another award, it was great!“ proclaimed Shawnee Mayor Ed Bolt. The City and Citizen Potawatomi Nation signed a historic agreement in 2021 to join forces on projects of common benefit for the citizens of both organizations. “We love seeing CPN succeed, as much as we appreciate them being there for us.”
"Tourism finally has the broad base of resources to discuss, plan and implement projects that not only increase tourism, but also visitor enjoyment and community pride." - Stacy Cramer Moore, City of Shawnee's Director of Tourism
What’s next for Shawnee? City Commissioner and owner of downtown restaurant Theopolis Social Club, Cami Engles, chimed in, “I’m especially excited about the future for downtown with our historic depot visioning sessions, the new emphasis on cultural placemaking and the expansion of diverse opportunities for all kinds of interests to come and explore and enjoy Shawnee. After the pandemic, it is a perfect time to get out and visit.”
Fireflight Balloon Fest takes place August 12th and 13th in conjunction with the Outdoor Nation Expo.
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Tourism is the third largest industry in Oklahoma behind only Oil & Gas and Agriculture. The latest statistics from 2020 show in Pottawatomie County, tourism employs nearly 2000 people, resulting in $92.4 million dollars in direct spending and $15.8 million in state and local tax revenues. Pott Co ranks 22nd in overall tourism spending in Oklahoma.