Central Manitoba Tourism Awards presented

Central Manitoba Tourism 2019 award winners. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

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The Central Manitoba Tourism Awards were presented to organizations and individuals at a gala celebration, April 25 at the Minnewasta Golf and Country Club. Recognizing achievement in nine categories, the recipients covered a broad reach of activities in the region with award winners ranging in age from seven to 84.
Award of Distinction –
Individual: Joe Wiwchar (Morden)
Starting in 1997 as a volunteer curator for the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame, Joe Wiwchar has had an active hand in the development of the site and its programs for more than 20 years. Everything from cataloguing the artefacts in the collection to seeking out donation of display cases and serving on the hall of fame board and organizing the annual induction banquet, Joe’s passion for the sport and its heritage are evidenced in all that he does in celebration of the sport. Also nominated in that category was Bruce Tascona (R.M. of Louise).
Award of Distinction – Business/Organization: Gallery in the Park (Altona)
The restoration of a historic manor to create an interactive indoor and outdoor showcase of art in 2008, Altona’s Gallery in the Park is the result of a successful public-private partnership with the focused intention of creating a local tourism attraction. Attracting more than 10,000 visitors annually from across Canada as well as international guests, the gallery is currently seeking opportunities to become a four-season attraction.
Also nominated: Harvest Moon Society (Clearwater), Portage Exhibition (Portage la Prairie), Prairie Foods (Plum Coulee), Syl’s Drive-Inn (Carman).
Tourism Volunteer of the Year – Rick Klippenstein (Morden)
Contributing more than 400 volunteer hours annually at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden, Rick Klippenstein is recognized not just for the time spent but also for his contributions to the success of the attraction as a whole. His contributions to build exhibits and increase capacity in the Centre have wowed audiences of all ages.
Also nominated: Wally Cobb (Manitou), Dorothy Derksen (Plum Coulee), Jackie Johnson (Clearwater), Dave Oshust (Portage la Prairie).
Event of the Year – Budget Over $5,000: Carman Country Fair
The Carman Country Fair celebrated its 139th annual fair in 2018 and the three-day event exceeded 10,000 visitors on just Saturday alone. Recent additions to this annual celebration include the Free Fry tent and the truck pull for mental health complimenting a strong midway and wide array of agricultural exhibits and demonstrations.
Also nominated: Honey Garlic & Maple Syrup Festival (Manitou), Prairie Hill Motocross (Pilot Mound), Manitoba Air Show (Southport).
Event of the Year – Budget Under $5,000: Raptor Festival (La Riviere)
With an opportunity to get up close and personal with some magnificent flying predators, La Riviere’s annual Raptor Festival celebrates the region’s importance as a habitat for migratory birds of all varieties. The festival features walking tours, a migration watch and count, as well as activities for all ages each Spring.
Also nominated: Kinsmen Belgian Bowling Tournament (Treherne), Legends Car Club 40th Anniversary Event (Altona).
Marketing Excellence: Whoop & Hollar Folk Fest (Portage la Prairie)
Recognized as the signature event of the R.M. of Portage la Prairie in 2018, the Whoop and Hollar Folk Fest has increased their visibility and market awareness beyond their weekend festival to host monthly jam nights in order to engage their audience in conjunction with fundraising throughout the year.
Also nominated: Stardust Drive-In (Morden).
Aspiring Youth Award: Oscar May (Portage la Prairie)
At only seven years old, Oscar May might be the youngest nominee in this category across the Province. His YouTube video series “It’s Me Oscar” visited more than 70 locations around the Province, sharing his unique enthusiasm for Manitoba. His videos generated more than 55,000 views through Facebook and YouTube during 2018.
Also nominated: Jay Siemens – Altona
Innovation Award: Mound Wildlife (Pilot Mound)
Initiated out of a love for fishing and hunting, Mound Wildlife is more than just an association of enthusiasts of this activity. Fostering the next generation of responsible hunters and fishermen, the organization stocks local waterways with fish stock, participates in tracking fish counts and supplies young people with their first rod and an education in the sport.
Also nominated: Altona Hotel, Bella’s Castle (Morden), Fort la Reine Museum (Portage la Prairie)
Partnership Award: Run for the Hills Marathon (Treherne)
Incorporating the efforts of seven community organizations, and more than 140 volunteers, the Treherne Run for the Hills marathon is a qualifying event for the famed Boston marathon and welcomes participants from across Canada and the U.S. This event is rural Manitoba’s only full 26.2 mile course, as well as shorter courses to attract runners of all ages and skill levels.
Also nominated: Portage the Prairies Dirt Dash.
Winners will be entered in the provincial tourism awards.

The Partnership Award – Run for the Hills Marathon, Treherne. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Winkler Times)

The Innovation Award – Mound Wildlife, Municipality of Louise. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

Aspiring Youth Award – Oscar May, Portage La Prairie. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

Marketing Excellence Award – Whoop and Hollar Folk Fest, R.M. of Portage La Prairie. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

Event of the Year (Under $5,000 Budget) – Raptor Festival, La Riviere. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

Event of the Year (Over $5,000 budget) – Carman Country Fair. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

Tourism Volunteer of the Year – Rick Klippenstein, Morden. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

Award of Distinction – Business/Organization – Gallery in the Park, Altona. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

Award of Distinction – Individual – Joe Wiwchar, Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame, Morden. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)