Visit Mason City hands out annual tourism awards

MASON CITY — Six awards were handed out as part of Visit Mason City’s annual meeting held last night. 


== Three of the organization’s “Golden Pineapple Awards” were given as part of voting by visitors who are asked to cast ballots inserted into the Mason City Experience Guide and collected at ballot boxes throughout the community or online at the Visit Mason City website for locations that made their visit memorable in the categories of hotel, attraction and restaurant. The Holiday Inn & Express and Suites, Music Man Square, and the Blue Heron Bar & Grill were the winners in each of those categories.


== The “Spirit of Tourism Award” was presented to the City of Mason City for their investment and ongoing commitment to the River City Renaissance Project. The award is given annually to an organization or business that makes exemplary contributions to the Mason City tourism industry, stimulates the development of tourism opportunities, and pioneers new initiatives in the Mason City tourism industry. 


== The “Friend of Tourism Award” is presented to an individual who promotes, contributes and enthusiastically supports tourism in Mason City. Since returning in 2016, retired Navy captain and north-central Iowa native Joan Platz now resides in Mason City with her husband Tim. Joan has been actively involved with the River City Society of Historic Preservation and Wright on the Park. Platz volunteers her time and talents to numerous projects ranging from writing grants, fundraising and planning events to landscaping, painting and more. 


== The “Tourism Excellence Award” is presented to an attraction or event that draws visitors to town, contributing to a significant economic impact to the Mason City tourism industry. The award was presented to North Iowa Fights and Mike Estus, who began coordinating mixed martial arts events. Those events grew from attracting 500 people for the first fights to over 2000 when they had their first event in the new Mason City Arena this past April. The North Iowa Fights events are now broadcast worldwide via pay-per-view, providing additional eyes on these events, the Mason City Arena, and the community. 


Visit Mason City says in 2020, tourism in Cerro Gordo County generated an estimated $155.6 million in total visitor spending. Tourism related jobs employ nearly 1350 people.