South Dakota tourism industry members honored

The Ben Black Elk Award honors Craig Pugsley for his 40 years of service to the tourism industry through his work with Custer State Park.

PIERRE, S.D. (KOTA TV) - The 2018 Governor’s Conference on Tourism was held Thursday in Pierre. Awards were given to tourism industry members by Gov. Dennis Daugaard and the South Dakota Department of Tourism.

The Lodge at Deadwood, Rush Mountain Adventure Park and Crazy Horse Memorial received the George S. Mickelson Great Service Award. The award is given to businesses, communities and organizations that have exceeded visitor expectations in customer service.

The Ben Black Elk Award which honors an individual making outstanding contributions to the state’s visitor industry. Craig Pugsley received the award for his 40 years of service at Custer State Park.

“Craig is credited with helping shape the annual Buffalo Roundup and Arts Festival into the world-class, three-day event it is today,” said Daugaard. “He has also been involved in efforts promoting the city of Custer and the entire Black Hills region, believing that all destinations benefit when travelers come to see our icons.”

The Ruth Ziolkowski Outstanding Hospitality & Customer Service Award for outstanding and genuine hospitality was awarded to three industry members from around the state, including an individual with local ties. Rita Franz from the Black Hills Visitor Information Center in Rapid City received the award which is new this year.