Nevada tourism industry recognizes top advocates with service awards

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TONOPAH, Nevada — The Nevada Division of Tourism (Travel Nevada) honored several individuals and organizations for their dedication to the state’s tourism industry at the VolunTourism Awards Dinner April 12 in Tonopah. Six Excellence in Tourism awards were announced, one from each of the state’s six tourism territories, along with three other honors: Statewide Excellence in Grants, Statewide Excellence in Tourism and the Larry J. Friedman Industry Partner of the Year.

Additionally, a special proclamation was announced and the winner of the June Stannard Memorial Scholarship was named at the awards dinner, which is part of Travel Nevada’s annual Rural Roundup conference.

Award winners are as follows:

Excellence in Tourism Award – Cowboy Country Territory

For more than 15 years, Kerrie Supanich has worked in tourism at West Wendover. Supanich has participated in several travel trade and consumer shows on behalf of Cowboy Country, including the Go West Summit in Salt Lake City earlier this year. Cowboy Country promotes tourism in northern Nevada along the Interstate 80 corridor.

“Kerrie has a wealth of knowledge about the state of Nevada and Cowboy Country Territory,” Tom Lester, chair of Cowboy Country Territory, said. “She always greets visitors with the utmost importance and proceeds to let the tourist know what the territory and the state have to offer.” 

Excellence in Tourism Award – Nevada Indian Territory

Michon Eben is actively involved with Nevada Indian Territory, which promotes cultural tourism throughout the state. She has coordinated cultural tours, as well as developed and curated exhibits highlighting the artists and veterans of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony. Eben also is working to preserve historical photos and documents through digitalization and works with the Artown festival in Reno to ensure a Native American presence at the event.

Excellence in Tourism Award – Las Vegas Territory

Las Vegas tourism professionals Michelle Dillard, Richard Scown and Jan Johnson serve as the finance committee for Las Vegas Territory, which promotes visitation to the Las Vegas region. As a group, they were recognized for their volunteer efforts to improve and elevate Las Vegas Territory’s accounting processes.

Dillard accepted on behalf of the trio.

Excellence in Tourism Award – Nevada Silver Trails

Shari Bombard, tourism and events coordinator for the town of Tonopah, was honored for her work with Nevada Silver Trails Territory, the section of Nevada south of U.S. 50 and north of Las Vegas. Bombard’s work on behalf of Nevada Silver Trails includes representing the organization at travel trade shows as well as participating in and planning state conferences.

Excellence in Tourism Award – Pony Express Territory

Jane Moon, director of tourism and visitor events for the city of Fallon, was recognized by Pony Express Territory, which promotes visitation along the U.S. 50 corridor. Moon, a longtime Nevadan and former Miss Sparks, was commended for her volunteer efforts with many community groups, as well as her work with the Fallon Convention and Tourism Authority.

Excellence in Tourism Award – Reno-Tahoe Territory

The Carson City Culture and Tourism Authority, formerly the Carson City Visitors Bureau, was recognized for its work to rebrand the community as a destination for outdoor recreation, arts and culture, farm-to-fork dining and special events. Sue Barton, chairwoman of Reno-Tahoe Territory, which promotes tourism in the Reno-Tahoe area, presented the award.

“Under the leadership of Joel Dunn and his team, including Chris Kipp, Kyle Horvath and James Salanoa, they transformed the traditional thinking of Carson City from a state capital with museums to a contemporary state capital with a beautifully remodeled, yet still historic, downtown,” Barton said.

Dunn and Horvath accepted the award.

Statewide Excellence in Grants Award

Ed Spear, president of the Grand Circle Association (promoting the American Southwest) and former chairman of Pony Express Territory, was recognized for his skill as a grant writer. He has used that skill to secure grants for various tourism entities, including Pony Express Territory. Kari Frilot, who handles Travel Nevada’s grants programs, praised Spear’s scrupulous adherence to rules and guidelines.

Statewide Excellence in Tourism Award

In addition to his work as executive director of the Elko Convention & Visitors Authority, Don Newman represents rural communities on the Nevada Commission on Tourism, the entity that advises Travel Nevada. A strong supporter of tourism throughout state, Newman has served on such committees as the Nevada 150th Anniversary Commission and was instrumental in the state’s acquisition of the Sesquicentennial Saddle, a handcrafted artisan saddle created by J.M. Capriola and on display at the Nevada State Museum in Carson City.

Larry J. Friedman Industry Partner of the Year Award

Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters, with locations in Las Vegas and Boulder City, was recognized with the Larry J. Friedman Industry Partner of the Year Award. Travel Nevada Director of Sales and Industry Partners Teri Laursen presented the award, citing Papillion?s willingness to sponsor sightseeing helicopter rides for media and out-of-state tourism professionals on familiarization tours of Nevada. Papillion also has supported Travel Nevada efforts by attending its trade missions as well as its two annual conferences, Rural Roundup and the Governor?s Global Tourism Summit. “Papillon’s donations go far in offsetting the cost of orchestrating the best possible experiences for our fam participants, showcasing Nevada’s treasures,” Laursen said.

B’Anka Neder of Papillon accepted the award on behalf of the company.

Bob Perchetti – special proclamation

Longtime Tonopah resident and tourism advocate Bob Perchetti was recognized with a special proclamation for his service to the industry and his community. Perchetti grew up in Tonopah and owned several businesses over the years, most recently the Clown Motel, known for its quirky collection of clown dolls in the lobby. Perchetti helped start Jim Butler Days, Tonopah’s signature event; worked as the director of the Tonopah Convention Center; and served on the Nevada Commission on Tourism, among other achievements.

June Stannard Memorial Scholarship

Sol Gonzalez Pacheco, a senior at Valley High School in Las Vegas, received the $1,000 scholarship. Pacheco participated in Valley High’s hospitality and tourism magnet program, which she credits for teaching her the skills to get a job at JW Marriot Resort and Spa. In her essay, Pacheco described the hospitality industry as a place where “people are truly happy with their careers.” 

“I’m certain this is the field for me,” she wrote, “because I’m most happy when others are happy, too.” 

The Nevada Division of Tourism (Travel Nevada) is part of the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs. It is responsible for promoting and marketing Nevada as a travel destination to domestic and international travelers. Operating within a performance-based budget structure, Travel Nevada is funded solely by a percentage of lodging tax paid by overnight guests throughout the state. For more, visit