Visit Jackson Honors 2021 Hometown Heroes

February 3, 2022

Visit Jackson named our 29th annual Hometown Hero and S.U.M.I.T.T. award recipients in a virtual ceremony held Thursday, February 3.

“This year’s ceremony will go down in our history as uniquely remarkable,” said Rickey Thigpen, President and CEO of Visit Jackson. “The tourism industry suffered in 2020, but our collective ambition in Mississippi’s capital city solidified us, transforming Jackson into a destination force. Our industry partners worked together to not only stay relevant but to come out even stronger.”

Watch the 2021 Presentation here

2021 Hometown Hero Awards

Travel & Tourism Industry Employees

  • Barbara Veal, Fairview Inn
  • Blake Brennan, Hilton Jackson
  • The Westin, Mike Burton, Michael McGreevy, Ariel Tapp and Patrick House
  • Eric Henderson, The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen
  • Deputy Chief Harris and the Officers of JPD Headquarters, City of Jackson
  • John Miller, Johnny T's Bistro & Blues
  • Tim Bennett, Hank Aaron Sports Academy/Smith-Wills Stadium
  • Mike Williams, Jackson Planetarium
  • Margaret Sullivan, BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar

Meeting and Tour Group Planners

  • Jane Halbert Jones, More Than a Tourist
  • Dr. Anthony Newman, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Festival/Event Organizers

  • Lynsie Armstrong, Highland Village
  • Brad Franklin, Jackson Indie Music Week
  • Enrika Williams, Magnolia Market
  • Stephanie Knowlin, The Fairview Inn
  • Jason McCarty, “It’s Pride, Y’all” - City With Pride Festival
  • David Lewis, Capital City Lights
  • Justin Nipper, Mississippi Ag & Forestry Museum

2021 S.U.M.I.T.T. Award Winners

  • Attraction of the Year: Mississippi Civil Rights Museum
  • Festival or Event of the Year: Mississippi Science Fest
  • Full-Service Hotel of the Year: The Fairview Inn
  • Limited-Service Hotel of the Year: Homewood Suites by Hilton Jackson - Fondren Medical District
  • Restaurant of the Year: Aplos
  • Friend of Tourism: Hezekiah Watkins

Shining Example Awards

  • Michael Lassiter, Mississippi Fairgrounds
  • WJTV, Jackson

Visionary Award

Ashley Robinson, Jackson State University, Vice President and Director of Athletics

While Thigpen chose the Shining Example and the Visionary Award winners, the Hometown Hero Awards were nominated and decided upon by Jackson’s industry partners.

The Hometown Hero Awards program is a signature event of Visit Jackson.

Visit Jackson is the official destination leadership organization for the city of Jackson. The bureau serves Jackson by positively impacting the city’s economy through recruitment and procurement of meetings and tourism activities.Created in 1983, Visit Jackson acts as a quasi-independent government agency reauthorized by the state legislature and governed by an independently appointed board of directors with members representing the hotel, restaurant, attraction, art, and education sectors.

Media contact:

Yolanda-Clay Moore – or 601.354.2588 for interviews, statements and story ideas.