Winners Circle

The Winners Circle Award originated in 2004 in an effort to recognize communities, organizations, events and people in the tourism industry that have made significant and continuing contributions to the growth and success of North Carolina’s tourism industry. The award is given annually, and is presented at the Visit NC 365 Conference on Tourism, the largest gathering of the state’s tourism industry leaders.


Mike Butz — Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority
Allan Harper — Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Sam Jones — Skylight Inn, Sam Jones BBQ


Liz Bittner — Travel South USA
Rolf Blizzard — Turnpike Properties
Chris Cavanagh — Magellan Strategy Group


Deborah Holt Noel — "North Carolina Weekend," PBS North Carolina
Vince Chelena — NC Tourism Industry Association


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Visit NC 365 was held virtually. No awards were presented.


John Harris — Kitty Hawk Kites
Scott Mason — WRAL
Marla Tambellini — Explore Asheville


Mary Baggett Martin — Blockade Runner
Fussell Family — Duplin Winery


Harris Prevost — Grandfather Mountain
Dr. Dana Clark — Appalachian State University
Chuck Hobgood — N.C. Amateur Sports
Tanya Jones — Surry Arts Council


Jean Beasley — Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center
Jim Early — N.C. Barbecue Society
A.C. Hall — Atlantis Lodge


Alice Aumen — Catalochee Ranch
Steve Woody — Great Smoky Mountains National Park Service
Houck Medford — Blue Ridge Parkway National Park Service
Mickey Gregory — Lumberton CVB


Bill Russ — Photographer
Reg Jones — U.S. Golf Association
Tom Pashley — Pinehurst Resort


Richard Petty — Richard Petty Racing
Horace Holden — Nantahala Outdoor Center
Payson and Aurelia Kennedy — Nantahala Outdoor Center
Ron Kimble — Charlotte Deputy City Manager


Bill Vassar — EUE Screen Gems Studio
Mikie Wall — Wilmington and Beaches CVB
Lynn Minges — N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association


Jim Hobbs — N.C. Hospitality Alliance
Mary Jaeger-Gale — Chimney Rock State Park
Charles Shelton — Shelton Vineyards
Richard Childress — Richard Childress Racing


Dr. Larry Wheeler — N.C. Museum of Art
Bill Cecil Jr. — Biltmore
Gary Everhardt — National Park Service & Blue Ridge Parkway


Capt. Dave Scheu — Battleship N.C.
Spencer Robbins — Tweetsie Railroad and others
Bill Hensley — N.C. Division of Tourism and others


John & Fay Cooper — Mast General Store
Reyn Bowman — Durham CVB
Betty & David Huskins — Smoky Mtn. Host/Advantage West
Dr. Larry Gustke — N.C. State University


Frank Capra Jr. — Screen Gems Studio
Bob McCoy — Winston-Salem CVB
Grady & Reba Moretz — Appalachian Ski Mountain
Todd Morse — Chimney Rock
Bruton Smith — Lowe’s (Charlotte) Motorspeedway


Judith Grizzel — Cape Fear Coast CVB
Dave Heinl — Greater Raleigh CVB
Peggy Kirk Bell — Mid-Pines & Pine Needles


Doug Stafford — Griffin Stafford, LLC / Charlotte CVB/Speedway
Bernie Mann — Our State Magazine
Phil Kirk — NCCBI


Craig Madison — Grove Park Inn
Steve Miller — Biltmore
Jack Goldstein — Carteret County


Humpy Wheeler — Lowe’s Motorspeedway
Jerry Richardson — Carolina Panthers
Hugh Morton — Grandfather Mountain