Four winners from a nominee list of events, attractions and organizations have been chosen by a panel of impartial travel writers to receive the 2017 Southern Delaware Tourism Awards.
The awards were presented Dec. 6 at the annual Southern Delaware Tourism Awards Luncheon, held at The Atlantic Sands Hotel and Conference Center in Rehoboth Beach.
Tourism in Sussex County generates $1.7 billion in revenue annually and supports 18,000 jobs. These annual awards recognize individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to the enrichment of tourism in Sussex County during the past year.
“This year’s voting was extremely close. All of this year’s nominees are very deserving of the award as they provide wonderful experiences for our visitors and help make Sussex County such a special and beloved destination,” said Southern Delaware Tourism Executive Director Scott Thomas.
Winners were named in each of four categories in 2017 including best attraction, best event, best new event and tourism partner of the year.
The Best Attraction Award went to Lefty’s Alley & Eats. Lefty’s Alley & Eats opened its doors in December 2016. The 25,000-square-foot facility offers an arcade, laser tag and 16 lanes of bowling. The restaurant features appetizers, burgers and sandwiches, pizzas and chef-inspired entrees. In its first year of operation, Lefty’s hosted more than 140,000 visitors. They employ more than 80 full- and part-time employees and partner with nonprofits and organizations in fundraising efforts.
The Best Event Award went to the Dogfish Dash. In 2007 when it began, the Dogfish Dash was a 5K/10K with 200 runners that began and ended at Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats in Rehoboth Beach. In 2009, the Dash moved to Dogfish’s Milton brewery to accommodate the growing number of participants. 2015 and 2016 each welcomed more than 2,500 registered runners, with more than 2,200 Dashers participating in the new off-centered distance of 4.97 miles. This year, the event raised more than $145,000 for the Delaware Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and welcomed more than 3,500 runners representing 22 different states. More than $644,000 was raised since 2007 for the Delaware Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.
The Best New Event Award went to Winter WonderFest. New in November 2016, Winter WonderFest, produced by Festival of Cheer Inc., a newly established nonprofit, created this new cultural tradition that attracted thousands of visitors to Sussex County. The Light Spectacular at Cape Henlopen State Park featured more than 60 light displays along a 1.5-mile drive. The Christmas Village at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal grounds featured a synthetic ice skating rink, three amusement rides, live music, Santa’s Workshop, The Giving Tree and pictures with Santa. Winter WonderFest welcomed more than 45,000 guests in 2016 and raised more than $150,000, $100,000 of which was awarded to 17 Sussex County nonprofit organizations via the Festival of Cheer Community Grant Program.
The Tourism Partner of the Year Award went to the “Delaware Beach Book.” “Delaware Beach Book” was launched in May 2011 by Becky and Marvin Carney and Kevin Fleming. They envisioned a stylish publication that would showcase the area they live in and promote events and the small businesses of coastal Delaware. They created a hardcover book with moderately priced ads, articles and photography for visitors to read and enjoy. Partnering with Southern Delaware Tourism and local chambers of commerce enabled them to create and provide a comprehensive tourism guide book. “Delaware Beach Book” is distributed yearly to accommodations, weekly rentals, condominiums, bed and breakfasts, waiting rooms, new home owners, events and golf tournaments. The book highlights local events, things to do, arts and culture, history and heritage, state parks, outdoor recreation and campgrounds. The book also promotes restaurants, retail and local businesses.
For more, call 856-1818 or visit visitsoutherndelaware.com.