Big WYO Award

Since 1977 The Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association (WLRA) has proudly awarded The Big Wyo Award to a private sector individual/s who has done an outstanding job promoting and improving the tourism industry for the State of Wyoming. This exceptional award is presented at the Salute to the Industry Gala which follows the annual Governor’s Tourism & Hospitality Conference.

Nominee Criteria

  • The individual has made major contributions to generating visitors, servicing and developing the travel industry in the state of Wyoming.
  • These efforts can take place through their business or as a volunteer in travel-related organizations.
  • The person has been a member and served actively on civic, community or travel industry association groups.
  • There have been exceptions, but usually, the individual is not an elected official or travel industry public employee at the time of consideration. It is preferable that they not be currently serving on state boards and commissions.


Rick Hoeninghausen, Xanterra Parks & Resorts

On behalf of the entire hospitality and tourism industry, the Wyoming Lodging & Restaurant Association and the Wyoming Office of Tourism happily recognized Rick Hoeninghausen as the 2019 recipient of the annual “Big WYO” award. Rick has spent over 20 years working to better the tourism industry. His joyous personality and hard work exemplify just a few of the many reasons he received the award. As an advocate and supporter of lodging and tourism in Wyoming, Rick is known for his love of the Cowboy State, his joy of working in Yellowstone and the care with which he raised a family in Wyoming . . .

Past Big WYO Winners

1977 Harry Smith1980 Duane Von Krosigk1990 Pat Self2000 Trudy McCraken2010 Gov. Dave Freudenthal
1978 Marv Harshman1981 Peter Hassrick1991 Paul Smith2001 Gene & Carol Kupke2011 Steve Meadows
1979 Bob Dohse1982 Ralph McMullen1992 Pat Sweeney2002 Ted Blair2012 Rex Brown
1983 Norm Parker1993 Jim Hearne2003 Jeff Heilbrun2013 Chuck Coon
1984 Dorris Stalker1994 Carol Waller2004 Edna Kennell2014 Kari Cooper
1985 Bill Bragg1995 Clay James2005 Manuel Lopez2015 Clay Miller
1986 Gov. Ed Hershler1996 Don & Doris Bunn2006 Claudia Wade2016 Jerry Blann
1987 Clarene&Creed Law1997 Wayne Worthen2007 Dave Rader2017 John Johnson
1988 John Olson1998 Gene Bryan2008 Chuck Box2018 Doug & Kathleen Campbell
1989 Quin Blair1999 Bill Sniffin2009 Jim McCaleb2019 Rick Hoeninghausen