2018 Recipients

2018 GRIT Awards


The Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) is pleased to announce this year’s Giving Recognition in Tourism (GRIT) Award recipients. The GRIT Awards, which serves to showcase the accomplishments of individuals and organizations that have gone above and beyond the call of duty to positively impact the area's tourism and hospitality industry, were presented at the Fort Smith Convention Center on Thursday, April 12, 2018.

This year, Fort Smith CVB received nearly 200 written nominations from the public, which was followed by more than 2,000 votes being cast for this year's finalists. Congratulations to the following 2018 GRIT Award recipients:

  • Restaurant Partner of the Year: La Huerta Grill on Garrison
  • Lodging Partner of the Year: DoubleTree by Hilton Fort Smith City Center
  • Attraction Partner of the Year: The Sound Room
  • Business Partner of the Year: Arvest Bank (Downtown Branch)
  • Polly Crews Hospitality Person of the Year: Daleana Vaughan
  • Fort Smith A & P's 2017 New Horizons Award: Temple Live & 5 Tribes Cultural Festival

During the awards ceremony, Fort Smith CVB also honored its 2018 Hometown Hospitality Heroes, which includes:

Miss Laura's Starrs for dedicating their time to help Miss Laura’s Visitor Center remain open 7 days per week, ensuring visitors feel welcome and informed, and being the Starrs of Fort Smith’s tourism & hospitality industry for the last 25 years.

Kevin Settle for his leadership and his commitment to the betterment of Fort Smith as a place to live and visit, as well as his efforts related to bringing the Arkansas Municipal League’s 2018 Winter Conference to Fort Smith.

Bill Hollenbeck for his efforts in securing repeat convention business from the Arkansas Sheriff’s Association, protecting citizens and visitors through law enforcement, and his efforts related to helping meet mental health needs of Arkansas communities.

Stacey Jones for his 37-year legacy and unfailing commitment to furthering the arts in the Fort Smith region through through developing the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith (UAFS) Season of Entertainment.

For more information on the 2017 GRIT Awards, please call Fort Smith CVB at 479.783.8888 or send an email to On 

# # #