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Nominees from Virden, Reston, Elkhorn up for tourism awards

And the winner is… going to be announced June 5!

“My initial reaction was definitely shocked! I am so honoured and excited…!”

Samantha Cluett may have been surprised by her nomination for a Tourism Westman award because it’s only been a year since she launched her Elkhorn store. But in that short time, her business acumen has been noticed.

It was her broader vision for Samantha’s Boutique: The Trendy Store with the Pink Door that transformed it into much more than a place to buy pretty things. Her nominator wrote:

“She has taken this business to not only a store, but to a mini events centre in hosting numerous fashion events, along with interior design consultations.

“(It) has seen her expand her reach in the Westman region, resulting in many visits from outside travelers to Elkhorn to participate,” wrote Andrew Arksey at the provincial Community Futures program.  

Cluett, who also chairs the Elkhorn Chamber of Commerce, was nominated in the Aspiring Youth category and plans to attend the June 5 gala in Brandon where the awards will be handed out in that category and six others: Event of the Year, Marketing Excellence, Partnership, Service Excellence, Volunteer of the Year and Indigenous Tourism.

“I am very excited to be representing Elkhorn at the Tribute to Tourism Gala and feel honoured to be nominated along with all of these other incredible young entrepreneurs!”


The Costume Closet of Virden is nominated in this category, with three women in particular being recognized for their years of dedication.

Christa Milne of Arts Mosaic nominated Hazel Lamont, Fran Bayliss, and Bette Scott for a Tourism Westman volunteerism award, saying, “I was thrilled when I was approached to nominate these ladies.

“They give hundreds of hours of volunteer time each year to operate The Costume Closet. This past year alone they banked 1315 volunteer hours and 4815 items were loaned out.”

“The Costume Closet would not exist without their passion, time and commitment.”


If you or someone you know has camped at the Virden Lions Campground, you have discovered what a jewel it is.

A stroll down its peaceful lanes reveals stands of mature trees, well-kept grassy areas, and the nearby creek.

But it was nominated for what you can’t see: the personal touch of its friendly staff.

Barry O’Grady is the Lions Club’s treasurer and spokesperson. “We have a couple of staff there, Karen McKinnon and Fern Hanson, and they go above and beyond. Jim Tapp is the manager. And a lot of Lions volunteer to help on site, too.

“That’s pride of ownership.”

Stellar customer service translates into a good source of income for the club, which goes right back into the community. Once a year, the Lions give grants to deserving non-profits so they, in turn, can keep improving life in Virden and area.

Says O’Grady, “Our motto is ‘We serve’ and we try to do that as much as we can.”


The RM of Pipestone Recreation Development Area in Reston was nominated for helping to grow the region’s tourism industry by collaborating with its partners.

They’ve accomplished that with continued expansion of their recreation facilities: Reston’s golf course, campground, splash park, and now the artificial lake.

The partnership included: the RM of Pipestone, the LUD of Reston, Pipestone Albert Recreation, RM of Pipestone’s Community Development Corporation and its Public Works Department.

Economic Development Officer Tanis Chalmers said, “We’ve taken an area that had potential and created a destination not only for our local population, but for tourists as well. It is an honour to be recognized in the tourism industry for Manitoba.”

A total of 24 nominations were submitted for this year’s Tourism Westman awards, to be held in Brandon June 5. The winners will advance to the Manitoba Tourism Awards.

Watch for the results here in the Virden Empire-Advance.



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