Travel Alberta

Entrepreneurship Challenge Winners & Rural Tourism Awards

The Growing Rural Tourism Entrepreneurship Challenge is hosted by Camrose Regional Exhibition as part of the Growing Rural Tourism Conference. The challenge helps tourism operators develop new products and experiences and grow their businesses. Participants will receive valuable feedback from industry experts to kick-start their projects. This Year’s winners were announced at the Award Banquet:

First Place
Rancho Relaxo Resort/Taimi Soil Projects
Jeff & Juli Gillies – Rocky Mountain House, AB

A working permaculture demonstration farm now producing organic food, solar energy, and clean water and is continually growing and producing sustainable ideas. Working towards producing all of our own energy, food growing for our family. Then showing other people how to do it themselves. Inviting families/groups that want to experience the off the grid lifestyle to come stay, interact and learn.

Second Place
Canadian Rockies Mountain Bike Fest
Wanda Bogdane, AB

A new Tourism product that will break down barriers, while breaking new ground. It will close gaps to attract a growing market, while enhancing economies across the regions. This will be realized by launching a mountain bike festival to host the whole Canadian Rockies region in one event.

Third Place
Discovery Wildlife Park
Doug Boss – Innisfail, AB

This will be a camping experience with a new twist. Located within our zoo which has been in operation for over 25 years; campers can experience the sights and sounds of the animals during the night. Offering personal encounters with our animals and programming that broadens our visitor’s appreciation of the wellbeing of the wildlife and a great sense of our responsibilities to the conservation and protection of their habitats.

Peavey Mart People’s Choice Award. Winner: Star Bright Farms/ Buttery Bite Caramels

The purpose of Alberta Shows Off is to showcase Alberta made products and to assist conference participants in connecting with key services and resources. The winner of the People’s Choice Award will receive a guaranteed offer to present your product to a Peavey Buyer.

2016 Rural Tourism Champion Award. Winner: Town Of Okotoks

This award is designed to honour an individual or organization who demonstrates outstanding accomplishments, innovation and leadership, showing exceptional commitment to rural tourism in their business, town, association, or community. Each submission is judged by the Growing Rural Tourism Committee on accomplishments; innovation and leadership.

The Town of Okotoks has not only been an active supporter within the successful Cool Little Towns partnership, but it also recently won a Marketing Canada Award from the Economic Developers Association of Canada for its 2015 Okotoks Visitor & Activities Guide.

The guide not only featured complimentary space for promotion of Cool Little Towns, but provided additional space for each community to highlight their top attractions and events. The guide was part of a larger marketing strategy incorporating transit advertising with the Calgary LRT. Transit users who focused only on the secondary tagline “There are a number of things to do in Okotoks” – posted images to social media. And before the day was out, Okotoks knew the true meaning of viral marketing.

Articles were written in mainstream media everywhere from Vancouver to Montreal – in fact, recognition for Okotoks and the region was picked up internationally in secondary media outlets within the USA and UK. Within hours of the campaign exploding online, Okotoks secured URLs and utilized the hashtag #thingstodoinokotoks. The Okotoks team chose to ride the wave of interest, and within days, tens of thousands were learning about things to do in Okotoks and all about Cool Little Towns.

In December, Okotoks shared in – and supported – the successful partnership of the Foothills Holiday Roadshow, which realised an increase in attendance for both the Okotoks Christmas and Millarville Markets. Increased visibility through shared marketing efforts also led to a 50% increase in downtown business activity over the previous year.

Okotoks consistently demonstrates leadership by pushing boundaries, demonstrating an inclusive approach, bringing added value to existing partnerships, and by displaying a commitment to learning, sharing ideas and supporting rural tourism.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Chuck Erman at 780-672-3640 or email at

Camrose Regional Exhibition