BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DES MOINES — Fort Madison received two awards at the Iowa Tourism Conference, and a collaborative effort with the Keokuk Area Convention & Tourism Bureau, the Kinglsey Inn and the Nauvoo Tourism Office was awarded a third.
The Iowa Tourism Office presented 26 awards recognizing excellence in the tourism industry at a ceremony Wednesday in Des Moines during the 2022 Iowa Tourism Conference.
Fort Madison received the Outstanding Community award for metro areas, while the Kingsley Inn in Fort Madison received the Outstanding Lodging Property award.
The collaborative effort was a combined effort to bring about the Lake Cooper Loop event spearheaded by Kingsley Inn General Manager Chi Eastin.
Eastin was also responsible for submitting the Outstanding Community award and the Kingsley Inn’s Outstanding Lodging Property award.
“My main focus on my submission for the Lodging category was our exceptional hospitality, beautiful historic riverfront hotel and how the Virtual Railcam has helped the hotel and our community during the challenging time of Covid,” Eastin said Thursday.
“My focus on the Marketing Collaboration was how you might be able to bring people to your area, but once they are here, we need to entertain them and keep them staying for a longer time. The solution was starting the Lake Cooper Loop. It was a way to highlight all that we had in the area around our section of the Mississippi River.”
Eastin said Fort Madison had a unique opportunity with the river, but bringing in Montrose, the Great River Road Scenic Byway, Lock & Dam 19 and other attractions in the Illinois and Iowa area, just added to the interest.
She said the submission for the Outstanding Community was easy with Fort Madison improving its roads, relocating the Amtrak Depot, the rodeo, new businesses cropping up and the new Fort Madison Marina project.
Eastin said she was hopeful for one award, but when the tourism board honored Fort Madison and the surrounding areas with three she was blown away.
“I was speechless. I went into the ceremony thinking that we weren’t going to win but it would be a learning experience for us, after all, we were against all of the larger communities in Iowa in the Metro category,” she said.
“I was shocked and so proud when we were named Outstanding Lodging. Then was extremely honored to have been named Outstanding Marketing Collaboration… I thought that there was no way we would win another award but then was called for Outstanding Community. I’m so glad that I was able to submit a nomination for our city. We’ve collectively worked so hard on our community and it shows.”
She said Lee County had the most wins at the conference.
“I’m not sure how many nominations were submitted to the state but we are unbelievably proud of our three wins and what we have accomplished in our community.”
Awards, divided into metro and rural distinctions, were made in 13 categories.
Local efforts that received awards at the convention included:
Fort Madison (Metro)
Outstanding Lodging Property
Kingsley Inn, Fort Madison (Metro)
New Day Dairy Guest Barn, Clarksville (Rural)
Outstanding Marketing Collaboration
Keokuk Area Convention & Tourism Bureau, Kingsley Inn and Nauvoo Tourism Office (Metro)
City of Sioux Center and Sioux Center Chamber of Commerce (Rural)
The Iowa Tourism Office, part of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, works closely with community partners, attractions and events, to promote the state’s beautifully vast scenery and unique history. Tourism in Iowa generated $1.5 billion in tax revenues in 2020, with more than $860 million supporting state and local governments, while employing a total of 60,218 people statewide.