HAMMOND | Members and friends of the hospitality and tourism industry gathered recently at the Indiana Welcome Center for the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority’s holiday reception.
Speros A. Batistatos, president and CEO of the SSCVA, presented the Hospitality Awards, honoring individuals for their contributions to tourism.
State Sen. Sue Landske was awarded the Chester F. Dobis Public Service in Hospitality Award, presented by Dobis, who spoke of Landske’s many accomplishments during her 30 years of public service.
Marty Wheeler, president of the Lake Court House Foundation, was the recipient of the Lifetime Service Award for her work to preserve and maintain the “Grand Old Lady,” and move the John Dillinger Museum into the courthouse in Crown Point.
Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor was awarded the Elected Official of the Year Award for improvements to downtown Hobart and efforts to breathe new life into the Brickie Bowl.
Tony Ramirez, Lake County Sheriff’s Department deputy commander, and Mark LaBarbera, Valparaiso University’s director of athletics, were both awarded the Bring it Home Hero Award. Ramirez has long been a dedicated cheerleader for the South Shore, bringing home numerous Fraternal Order of Police conferences and events. LaBarbera was instrumental in ensuring the annual Lutheran Basketball Association of America tournament stayed in the South Shore.
Diva Rish, executive director with the DeMotte Chamber of Commerce, received the Event Planner of the Year Award for the enhancements to the annual Touch of Dutch Festival which resulted in a 20 to 30 percent increase in attendance.
The Lake County Fairgrounds was presented with the Event of the Year Award for hosting the Hot Rod Power Tour showcasing more than 3,200 cars and attracting 11,500 spectators.
The city of Whiting received the Attraction of the Year Award for its 125th Anniversary Celebration.
Radisson Hotel Star Plaza in Merrillville and Best Western Inn at Valparaiso were both awarded Hotel of the Year Awards, the Radisson for renovations and continued work to bring in meetings and conventions, and Best Western for transforming the old Star Express Inn into an upscale property.
Teresa Torres, executive director of Everybody Counts, presented the Spirit of Americans with Disabilities Act Award to Abuelo’s Restaurant in Merrillville, noting the restaurant has gone above and beyond to ensure all patrons can enjoy the establishment.
Farmhouse Restaurant at Fair Oaks Farms was awarded the Restaurant of the Year Award, and all members of the Northwest Indiana Brewers Guild were awarded the Culinary Attraction of the Year Award for the South Shore Brewery Trail.