The 14th Annual Tourism Hall of Fame inductees are: rock n’ roll concert promoter Barry Fey; former Denver Art Museum director Lewis Sharp; and popular Denver tour operator Sid Wilson of A Private Guide.
The Tourism Hall of Fame serves as the highest award for Denver’s travel industry – which registered its best year ever in 2011 with 13.3 million overnight visitors, generating more than $3.3 billion in spending. The industry supports 50,000 jobs in the metro area.
The gala is a fund-raising event for the VISIT DENVER Foundation, which has given out more than $460,000 in scholarships to 189 Colorado students pursuing higher education in the fields of tourism and hospitality since 1999.
For ticket information, please contact Keely Asbury at (303) 571-9405 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barry Fey, Feyline
The legendary (nearly mythical, according to the Denver Post) rock promoter Barry Fey, helped turn live music into a brand pillar for Denver and Colorado tourism by making Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre one of the most famous music venues in the world. Fey also played an important role in helping to save the Denver Symphony and to create the new Colorado Symphony Orchestra. In 1967, at just 27 years old, he began his extraordinary career as one of rock’s most important promoters by opening the Family Dog Concert Hall in Denver with Big Brother & The Holding Company, featuring lead singer Janis Joplin. His company, Feyline, transformed the “Summer of Stars” concert series at Red Rocks into a top “bucket list” event for music lovers all over the world. Fey promoted more shows for the Who and the Rolling Stones than anyone else alive before the days of “national tours,” and he was behind the U2 Under a Blood Red Sky concert video at Red Rocks, a music video that helped the Amphitheatre and Denver gain international fame. He also played a role in saving the Paramount Theatre from destruction and helped bring the Colorado Rockies to Denver. Fey published his first acclaimed book, “Backstage Past” in November 2011, which features behind-the-scenes stories from his 40 year history in the music industry.
Lewis Sharp, Denver Art Museum
Dr. Lewis Sharp came to the Denver Art Museum (DAM) in 1989, after serving as curator and administrator of the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1972 to 1989. Under his leadership, the DAM was totally transformed to become the most important art center in the Rocky Mountain West and one of the principal art museums in America. During his tenure, the DAM drew approximately 500,000 visitors each year and was touted by USA Today as one of the “10 Great Places to Introduce Children to Art.”
Dr. Sharp substantially increased the museum’s collections and improved the educational activities. One of his continuing legacies has been the museum’s increased focus on major touring exhibitions such as Toulouse-Lautrec from the Metropolitan Museum of Art,Impressionism: Paintings Collected by European Museums, and the blockbuster, El Greco to Picasso from the Phillips Collection. Sharp also had a tremendous influence on shaping the national and international image of Denver through his leadership on the Daniel Libeskind designed Frederic C. Hamilton Building, which elevated Denver’s reputation as a cultural destination. The expansion was completed through a city bond initiative approved by Denver voters in 1999, while the museum raised another $28 million in private funds to cover additional expansion projects. Dr. Sharp was instrumental in both helping pass the initiative and in raising the private funds. He also helped lift the museum’s stature through a landmark donation of funding, artwork and property from Kent and Vicki Logan, the largest planned gift in the Museum’s history. Lewis Sharp retired at the end of 2009, but his legacy and contributions live on at the Denver Art Museum with recent blockbuster exhibits such as Yves St. Laurent: The Retrospective and Becoming Van Gogh.
Sid Wilson, A Private Guide
Sid Wilson has operated A Private Guide for 20 years, becoming one of the best known and most beloved guides and entrepreneurs in Denver’s tourism industry. Besides serving for more than 10 years on the VISIT DENVER Board of Directors, Wilson is a trustee for the Denver Zoo, recent past commissioner for the Denver Public Library, founding member and past board chair of Beckwourth Outdoors (aka the James P. Beckwourth Mountain Club), the Black American West Museum, and the Plains Conservation Center. Wilson’s contributions often take place behind the scenes, where he has worked for years to bring new people into the travel industry. He is a senior instructor at the International Guide Academy and has worked in numerous school projects with student groups, where he has long been a proponent of kids working in travel and tourism. He was both a board member and a chair of National Academy Foundation / Academy of Hospitality and Tourism set up with Denver Public Schools to encourage high school students to pursue careers in tourism. For more than ten years he has worked with Beckwourth Outdoors, preparing and exposing inner-city youth to their first skiing, hiking and a variety of mountain based recreation activities. Research had shown that many youth who get into trouble with authorities have never been to the mountains. Beckwourth Outdoors was created to right that situation, and Sid has literally changed the lives of hundreds of youths by introducing them to Colorado tourism and mountain experiences. As he has stated, Wilson has been able to take experiences and contacts from powerful boards like VISIT DENVER, the Denver Zoo and the Denver Public Library Commission, and use that knowledge to help other smaller boards like the Black American West Museum, Beckwourth Outdoors and the Plains Conservation Center.