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Golden Helmet Awards kick off 32nd Annual National Travel & Tourism Week (May 2 – 10)

(May 5, 2015) – Concord, NC – The Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau began a weeklong celebration of the travel industry by recognizing the outstanding contributions of area hospitality professionals at the third annual Golden Helmet Awards.

“This celebration is about a cycle of benefits made possible by the dedicated individuals of our tourism industry,” said Donna Carpenter, President/CEO of the Cabarrus County CVB. “Their exceptional service creates positive experiences that help generate additional visits. Those visits translate to jobs, tax revenues and tax savings for residents.”

The 2015 Golden Helmet Award recipients are:
Attraction of the YearSea Life Aquarium
Hotel of the YearGreat Wolf Lodge
Restaurant of the YearThe Smoke Pit
Small Business of the YearCabarrus Creamery
Hospitality Professional of the Year – Billy Gulledge, Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Concord
Hometown Hero – Michael Anderson, Michael A. Anderson Photography
Outstanding Ambassador – Lenny Stallings, Capstone Climbing and Adventure
Unsung Hero – Joyce Kelly, Affordable Corporate Suites – Concord
Destination Visionary AwardCity of Concord

Celebrate Cabarrus was formed in 2014 as three separate entities with different missions merged their annual awards ceremonies. Held at Embassy Suites Charlotte/Concord Golf Resort & Spa, the event combines the CVB’s Golden Helmet Awards and annual awards for both the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce ( and Cabarrus Economic Development Corporation (

In 2013, tourism in Cabarrus County generated $371.87 million in visitor spending and $27.36 million in state and local taxes. More than 3,980 jobs and $80.08 million in payroll were directly attributable to travel and tourism. According to the U.S. Travel Association, travel and tourism is one of America’s largest employers, ranking in the top 10 in 49 states and the District of Columbia.

The theme of this year’s National Travel and Tourism Week encourages citizens to share how they define travel by completing the phrase “Travel is ______.” Each answer reflects the unique value and impact of the industry on our community. Join us (@SpeedCityUSA) in the celebration on Twitter by using #NTTW2015 and #WhereRacingLives.

About the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau
As a destination marketing organization, the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau is dedicated to promoting Cabarrus County as a visitor destination and enhancing the complete visitor experience. We also represent and support the interests of the local tourism industry and promote public awareness of the importance of tourism. For more, visit or find us at and @SpeedCityUSA.

Media Contact:
Julie Hinson, Communications Manager