Waterloo won a state award last week for its hugely successful total solar eclipse viewing party at the Monroe County Fairgrounds back in August.
Each year, during the Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel and Tourism, the Illinois Department of Tourism honors innovative tourism marketing initiatives that promote the outstanding destinations, attractions and events throughout the state with the “Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards.”
The ceremony took place Feb. 26 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago.
Travel and tourism professionals from around the country judged submissions in eight categories ranging from best social media marketing to best event or festival, with one exceptional entry receiving best of show.
Waterloo took home the award for Best Event or Festival for its Solarbration on Aug. 21.
This event was planned as a solar eclipse viewing party, and included live music, food and merchant vendors, free eclipse viewing glasses and an educational and entertaining emcee (KTRS radio personality Jon Grayson) to guide attendees before, during and after the two minutes and 10 seconds of solar eclipse totality. Radio personality Brando from 106.5 FM The Arch also took part in the event.
This event brought thousands to the fairgrounds, not only from Waterloo, but from nine different countries including Bolivia, Canada, England, India, Ireland, Russia, The Netherlands, Turkey and Wales. A total of 26 different states across the U.S. were represented.
During Monday’s Waterloo City Council meeting, all those who put forth hard work to the success of Solarbration were recognized, including the Solarbration Planning Committee, event volunteers, and the following sponsors: Walmart, Scott Credit Union, Applebee’s, First National Bank of Waterloo, Sunset Ford, Premier Eyecare Center, Legacy Place, Annbriar Golf Course, Valentine Auto Body, State Bank of Waterloo and Denny’s.
“We couldn’t have done it without the community,” Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith said. “Without you, we wouldn’t have won this trophy.”