The list of finalists for the 17th Annual Delta Awards has been released and Helena-West Helena has finalists in four of seven categories. These are awarded by Arkansas Delta Byways, a 15-county regional tourism association that promotes tourism from Piggott to Lake Village.

The list of finalists for the 17th Annual Delta Awards has been released and Helena-West Helena has finalists in four of seven categories. These are awarded by Arkansas Delta Byways, a 15-county regional tourism association that promotes tourism from Piggott to Lake Village.

Raymond Willie is up for the Hospitality Award. Willie has worked at PCCUA’s Pillow-Thompson House since it opened in 1997. His job there includes giving tours, assisting with events, and custodial duties. He is the epitome of a great host – welcoming, accommodating, and personable.

Over the years he has studied the history of the area, and learned a lot about the people who lived in the house. Willie loves to share his knowledge with others, and is gracious enough to let people in even on days when the house is not open. He understands the importance of good hospitality and cross-promotion of other attractions in the area.

The Edwardian Inn is a finalist for the Entrepreneur Award. A couple of years ago owners Amber and Joel Tipton chose to leave the rat race of corporate America, bought the bed and breakfast inn, and moved here from the Dallas area to run it.

They took a successful business and made it even better. Changes in marketing strategies, renovations to the property, and attention to details have paid off big time. Occupancy is up over 10 percentage points, average length of stay is up almost 25 percent, and revenue is up 25 percent year to date vs. the same period last year.

Finalists for the Tourism/Promotion Support Award include Main Street Helena.. MSH has played an essential role in the development of Helena as a tourism destination.

MSH has been heavily involved in streetscape beautification with an emphasis on local history. They have worked to make downtown more attractive, and therefore, more appealing to visitors and potential investors. MSH also makes grants available to downtown property owners, encouraging them to make facade improvements to their buildings

Additionally, MSH has conducted tours of downtown Helena that incorporate an appreciation for the past while promoting recent redevelopment projects. Staff and board member of MSH greet passengers off the American Queen steamboat and provide information about downtown attractions and events.

The Delta Cultural Center’s Front Porch Blues Bash is a finalist for the Cultural Heritage Award. The Front Porch Blues Bash is held at the Miller Annex during the King Biscuit Blues Festival (KBBF), and has become one of the most popular components of KBBF for performers and visitors alike.

The Front Porch is unique among the stages of KBBF. It is an indoor venue and provides a much more intimate setting than other stages along the street. The Front Porch provides performers the opportunity to interact with the audience in a way that makes for a memorable experience for everyone.

Phillips County nominations for the Delta Awards are submitted by a committee of local tourism entities in an effort to recognize the hard work of businesses, attractions, and events in the promotion and support of tourism.

The board of Arkansas Delta Byways is comprised of three people from each of the 15 counties in the region. Representing Phillips County are Shane Williams with Main Street Helena, Delta Heritage Trail State Park Superintendent Josh Glenn, and Paula Oliver with the Delta Cultural Center.Winners of the awards will be announced at a banquet on Feb. 17 on the campus of ASU in Jonesboro.