By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — It wasn’t your usual tourism luncheon.
For one thing, there were wild animals — albeit extinct ones — running amok and harassing the visitors. Maybe the mayor was partly at fault, she did try to take the bone right out of the month of what appeared to be a T-Rex.
Then a sword fight broke out between a couple of errant knights.
Fortunately, there were some musicians on hand... nothing like a little jazz to soothe the savage beasts. In addition, a landscape painted by May Fair celebrated artist Tim Kenney was won by one lucky attendee.
The 2013 Annual Tourism Luncheon celebrating 20 years of the Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau was anything but ordinary. It was more along the lines of spectacular with performances by Michael Bendure, Kyle Reid and a troupe from the Sooner Theatre.
Norman native and Transcript Executive Editor Andy Rieger presented the business awards. The other judges chose to remain anonymous, but the identities of the honored businesses came as no surprise despite that the competition was very steep this year.
“It was not an easy choice to select those to be recognized among the nominees,” Rieger said.
Recognized for outstanding hospitality were The Montford Inn Bed and Breakfast and NCED Conference Center and Hotel.
“Two Norman properties perform completely different functions within the lodging realm,” Rieger said. “Both were very deserving of this honor.”
The award for outstanding attraction may have accounted for the dinosaurs in the audience.
“Known by children all over as the dinosaur museum, the attraction being recognized as the 2013 Outstanding Attraction is the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History,” Rieger said.
The outstanding event honored for 2013 was Jazz in June, which is marking a 30-year milestone this year.
NCVB also reported on increases in hotel occupancy rates this year.
“During the first part of the Fiscal Year, July 1 through Dec. 31, 2012, 17 of our 18 key indicators either increased or remained the same,” said Stefanie Brickman, NCVB Communications manager. “Most significantly, the visitor volume measures that mean the most to the Norman community are the increases in the occupancy rate which jumped from 60.1 to 64.5 percent versus the same period in 2011 and the amount of transient guest tax collected, which increased from $591,773 to $717,080.”