The Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau presented its annual awards Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012, during a banquet at the White River Conference Center on the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World campus.

The Salute to Travel & Tourism Awards Banquet was the first event scheduled in the new conference center. The theme of the event was "Celebrating the Great Outdoors ... Indoors!" and guests were encouraged to wear camouflage or other outdoor gear. Click here to see a few photos from the event. (We'll add more when we get them.)

Dan Kinney Accepting Pinnacle Award

Awards were presented in five categories with the top award – The Pinnacle Award – going to Dan Kinney, retired director of the Springfield-Greene County Parks Department. The Pinnacle Award is presented to individuals who have been active in the travel industry for many years and have made substantial contributions to the betterment of the Springfield area’s travel industry. Other awards presented were:

Ambassador Award: Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation. The Ambassador Award is presented to individuals or organizations that generated significant economic impact for the area by working to encourage tourism or secure a major convention or event in Springfield.

Hospitality Award: O’Reilly Hospitality Management, LLC. The Hospitality Award is presented to an attraction, lodging facility or restaurant which demonstrates outstanding hospitality to the traveling public and exhibits a team spirit in promoting growth of Springfield area travel and tourism.

Spotlight Award: “417 Magazine.” The Spotlight Award is presented to an individual, business or organization not usually considered part of the travel and tourism industry for noteworthy contributions in advancing travel and tourism in the Springfield area.

Diplomat Award: Missouri Division of Tourism. The Diplomat Award is presented to a government official, organization or employee who has provided significant support to the Springfield area travel industry.

John & Mary Williams Volunteer of the Year Award: Don Bechtel. The Volunteer of the Year Award is presented to a CVB volunteer nominated and selected by his or her peers for outstanding service to the CVB.

The bureau also presented 20-Year Service awards to volunteers who marked a 20-year service anniversary in 2011. They are: Flora Clark, Russell Sanders and Barbara Haun.

Nearly 100 people serve as volunteers for the CVB.

The CVB extends its gratitude to the following sponsors of the banquet: 7C’s Winery & Vineyard, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, Baum’s Promotional Products, Central High School Media/Central Intelligence, Doubletree by Hilton, Downhome Productions, Elliott Lodging, Gary Ellison Productions, Gerry Averett Photography, Kingery Printing Co., Learfield Communications, OOVVDA Winery, Ozarks Technical Community College Print Shop, Ramada Oasis Hotel & Convention Center, guitarist Randy Buckner, SR Graphics, University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center and the White River Conference Center at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World.