June 22, 2024

Advancing Business Excellence

Pioneering Corporate Success

Oxford County celebrates ‘exceptional’ tourism partners

Local winners feted at the 2023 Oxford Tourism Awards of Excellence

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Oxford County’s top tourism destinations were celebrated this month as part of a special 10th anniversary business awards celebration hosted by the Rural Oxford Economic Development Corporation.

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Established to recognize Oxford region tourism businesses, organizations and individuals that have “displayed excellence in product development, partnerships and collaborations, innovation, inclusiveness, leadership, sustainability, and attraction,” the awards also acknowledge “partners” who collaborate with Tourism Oxford to expand local tourism and improve visitor experiences.

“We had some incredible submissions once again this year, and it gets harder and harder every year we host these awards for our panel of judges to select a winner,” said the county’s tourism specialist, Meredith Maywood. “We have so many businesses in Oxford County going above and beyond to support local tourism and keep guests coming back to the county.

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“I’m pleased that the Tourism Award provides a forum to recognize their efforts and amplify their successes.”

The winners were selected by a panel of external judges that included representatives from Ontario’s Southwest, the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario and the Culinary Tourism Alliance.

The 2023 Oxford Tourism Awards of Excellence winners celebrated at the May 23 reception at the Otter Creek Golf Club are:

Golspie Dairy: The winner of the Responsible Tourism Award, the Golspie Dairy has had a sustainable mindset since the first day of operations. The dairy sources local materials, including fallen ash trees, for use in its aging room. The dairy has also enhanced biodiversity on its farm by planting a native species meadow while incorporating more consumer education. In addition to its milk and soft cheese refill programs, Golspie has put a premium on accessibility while promoting active transportation through the installation of bike racks and seating.

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SixThirtyNine, Thames River Melons and Canada Grills: Co-winners of one of two Tourism Partnership awards, the trio collaborated on their enormously successful Farm to Dinner Table event. This sold-out meal helped boost the profile of the local tourism sector while celebrating the many Oxford County and Ontario producers featured on the menu. With the enthusiastic response from out-of-town diners and travel media, the trio confirmed plans to work together on more experiences in the near future.

Award winners
Ineke Rombouts of Canada Grills, Alex Chesney of Thames River Melons and Eric and Jenn Boyer of SixThirtyNine, winners of the Tourism Partnership Award, are joined by Oxford County Warden Marcus Ryan (from left).Handout jpg, WD, apsmc

Indigo Lounge Wellness and Eatery: The recipient of the second Tourism Partnership Award, the Indigo Lounge Wellness and Eatery embodies the “it-takes-a-village” mantra. The Tillsonburg destination’s mission statement puts a premium on collaboration and partnerships, especially with other local enterprises. Throughout the year, the lounge has hosted dinners and cooking classes with Cool Convenience, Sizzling African Cuisine, Punjabi chef Jasjit Kaur and Nigerian chef Khadjiah Haliru. Indigo has also worked with farmers on farm-to-table dinners, hosted Bollywood dance and henna nights, offered special Oxford County Pride events and provides space every Sunday for a new restaurant start-up, Sizzling African Cuisine.

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Award winners
Kelly Spencer of the Indigo Lounge and Wellness Centre holds her Tourism Partnership Award while joined by (from left) Nancy Demarest of the Rural Oxford Economic Development Corporation, Meredith Maywood of Tourism Oxford and county Warden Marcus Ryan.Handout jpg, WD, apsmc

Orange Door Acres: The winner of the Best New Tourism Product Award, Orange Door Acres began as a small farm-gate operation for people to purchase pasture-raised chicken. Since that early beginning, Orange Door Acres has expanded operations, undergoing extensive renovations to add a commercial kitchen that allows for an expanded product line. Orange Gate also hosts tours to encourage farm education, which the owners consider a vital aspect of the business. Visitors can see firsthand how food from the gardens, strawberry patch and barn ends up on the table. Orange Door’s investment has helped create new employment opportunities while allowing more people to discover what if offers.

Award winners
Tim and Donna Norris of Orange Door Acres (centre), the winners of the Best New Tourism Product Award, are joined by Nancy Demerest of the Rural Oxford Economic Development Corporation and county Warden Marcus Ryan.Handout jpg, WD, apsmc

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