The Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau (LC/SWLA CVB) honored partners in tourism who have made significant contributions to the tourism industry in Southwest Louisiana at the recent award ceremony held in honor of National Tourism Week. Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser was on hand at the ceremony to deliver the keynote address and assist with the awards.

The following community leaders were named as Partners in Tourism: Eric Avery, owner of Crying Eagle Brewing Company; Larry Woodcock, Kay Woodcock and Tom Kussman of Coastal Crew Change; Jay Ecker, owner of Rikenjaks Brewing Company; Randy Robb and Mary Jo Bayles with the Chennault International Air Show; and Julie Fay for her work with the Lake Area Film Alliance and Lake Area Film Group.

The Photo of the Year through social media programs went to Britt Richey for his King of the Marsh photo shared through Instagram.

The 2017 Sales Partner in Tourism was earned by Janet Paxton with Holiday Inn Lake Charles/Sulphur for her diligent attention to detail with groups and visitors coming to Southwest Louisiana.

The 2017 Young Professional Award went to Gertinna Chretien-Simmons. She is the Lodging Association President and played a large part in the successful grand opening of the Courtyard by Marriott.

The 2017 Media Partner in Tourism was earned by Lucie Monk Carter for her work in Country Roads Magazine and her compelling article entitled “Reasons to Get Back to Lake Charles.”

The 2017 Hospitality Arts Tourism “HAT” Award went to Huber “Mickey” Smith, Jr., for his work with community events, festivals, mentoring young musicians, being available to perform for convention groups and his enthusiasm for the New York media mission which landed him on the NBC Today Show.

The 2017 Good Neighbor Award was presented to the Jeff Davis Tourist Commission with executive director, Marion Fox, accepting the award.  The LC/SWLA CVB has shared many partnership opportunities from attending tradeshows and working together on familiarization tours to promote the Bayou Rum Distillery, and the LC/SWLA CVB appreciates their willingness to reach across parish lines to make the most out of promotions.

The 2017 Lasting Impression Award was given to David Papania with Seafood Palace. David is always available for making requests become reality, such as “cooking your catch” for travel writers and providing excellent service for each and every group. He takes great pride in the seafood that he serves to guests, ensuring that the best of the best selections are experienced by visitors, groups and visiting media.

Another 2017 Lasting Impression Award was awarded to Chef Lyle Broussard of Jack Daniel’s Bar & Grill at L’Auberge Casino Resort. A chef and avid trail rider, Chef Lyle is always willing to showcase the incredible culinary creations of Southwest Louisiana for any and all audiences – even on the road. In addition, Chef Lyle was chosen as one of 12 chefs to compete in the 10th annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-off in Lafayette this June. He will represent Southwest Louisiana as he “Cooks for the Crown.”

The third 2017 Lasting Impression Award went to Chef Kevin Thompson, also of L’Auberge Casino Resort with Favorites Southern Kitchen. From tradeshows to live interviews about the Seafood Sensations’ slice of Louisiana Culinary Trails, Chef Kevin’s love for the area and its traditions is evident.  Both Chef Lyle and Chef Kevin accompanied the CVB to New York to entice media and tour operators with their Louisiana culinary arts.

Representative Mike Danahay is the recipient of the 2017 Public Service Award. Representative Danahay deeply cares about Southwest Louisiana as a community. He stands behind the tourism industry and supports the hospitality community, and ultimately, the economic fabric of tourism as a driver for growth in Calcasieu Parish.

The 2017 Rhea Barnes Award was earned by Anne Monlezun. Anne has been known as the Mother of Mardi Gras in Southwest Louisiana, establishing the first Krewe of Krewes Parade in 1979. Since then, she has created the Mardi Gras Museum, housing the largest display of Mardi Gras costumes in the world, located inside Central School. She has served on the CVB’s board of directors and as chairman of the board.

The 2017 Tourism Lifetime Service Award was given to Mayor Randy Roach of Lake Charles. Mayor Roach served as a Louisiana State Representative in the Legislature from 1988-1996. He was elected as Mayor of Lake Charles in 2000, and for the past 17 years, he has worked to infuse arts and culture into the city. Along with establishing a legacy for the arts, including 1911 Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center, he has been a remarkable partner in tourism and supporter of the hospitality community.

The 2017 Tourism Leadership Award was presented to Adley Cormier, local author, historian and preservationist. Adley is a trusted resource for the LC/SWLA CVB staff and has a seemingly endless supply of incredible ideas for projects that involve preservation, history and the arts. He always delights media and tour groups with his wit, and he has in-depth answers for their questions about our history, architecture and all things “Southwest Louisiana.”

The 2017 Organization of the Year was earned by the Calcasieu Parish Public Library System. Accepting the award is Brandon Shoumaker, Genealogy/Carnegie Branch Manager and Marjorie Harrison, Calcasieu Parish Public Library Director. Fortunate to have project managers and passionate people at the helm, the staff at the libraries implement ideas for special events such as the Great Acadian Awakening Festival, and more recently, the Sesquicentennial for Lake Charles with their pop-up museum events.

The 2017 Sports Persons of the Year went to Robert Barrentine, Jeff Wainwright and Rodney Trahan of Sulphur High School. Last year, when one of the largest events in the area (USSSA World Series) outgrew their home for the opening ceremonies, rather than losing the event, they offered the use of the Sulphur High Football Stadium along with the manpower that it takes to put on an event of that size.  Over 150 teams attended the event from 8 different states during the week in June.

The Chairman’s Cup Award is given to someone who has contributed to Southwest Louisiana, in the chairman’s eyes of the board of directors of the CVB, Brant Parish. This year, the Chairman’s Cup Award was presented to Dr. Philip Williams of McNeese State University. McNeese is an integral part of Southwest Louisiana, and Dr. Williams understood how to instill community pride in the university, and he was a partner across the board in Calcasieu Parish to bring McNeese to the forefront in promoting and strengthening the parish.

The 2017 CVB Volunteers of the Year have given a year-round commitment to supporting staff at the CVB. Ms. Barbara Hurlbut and Virginia “Jinny” Leger are always helping out staff with a smile, and the LC/SWLA CVB appreciates their dedication and love for Southwest Louisiana.

The 2017 Community Volunteer of the Year went to the 2016 LHSAA Marsh Madness Team Hosts. These volunteers are completely dedicated to ensuring that the teams and coaches who attend Marsh Madness to compete have the red carpet treatment. Team host coordinators were Pam LeDoux and Charles Allen. Team hosts included Jimmy Melanson, Janet Melanson, R.L. Webb, Edward Alexander, Keith Green, Steve Wieschhaus, Jimmy Pitre, Will Lemonier, Otis Boudreaux, Angelica Floyd, Van Richmond, Colvin LeDoux, Jean Evans, Donnie Martin, David Clayton, Linda Clayton, Harold McRenolds, Karen Hardy, Steve Stroh, Martha Banks, John Duhon, Ann Stevenson, Pam Fontenot, Debbie Howerton, Pat Howerton, Keith Smith, Joe Savoie, Bill Stokes, Vickie White, Carl White, and Ted Nixon.

The 2017 Southwest Louisiana Tourism Partner of the Year was presented to Golden Nugget Lake Charles with General Manager, Gerry Del Prete accepting the award. Alongside Golden Nugget, the LC/SWLA CVB successfully hosted the Society of American Travel Writers during Mardi Gras of 2016, which resulted in almost $1 million in earned media. The timing of the conference meant that much of the planning for the event, securing the rooms and working out logistics happened even before Golden Nugget was even built. It is a testament to the team at Golden Nugget that Southwest Louisiana had the ability to bring in this group to experience one of our newest attractions during one of the largest cultural festivals in the area.

For more information on the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau, log onto or call 337-436-9588. To view a photo album of all our awardees, visit