Denver's second largest industry will honor some of its top leaders at the Tourism Industry Hall of Fame dinner on March 20, 2014 at the Seawell Grand Ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
The 15th Annual Denver & Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame inductees are: Denver caterer and philanthropist Larry DiPasquale, Denver March Powwow Executive Director Grace Gillette; Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort; and director of the Greenway Foundation, Jeff Shoemaker with a special posthumous award to his father, the founder of the Greenway Foundation, Joe Shoemaker.
The Tourism Hall of Fame serves as the highest award for Denver's travel industry - which registered its best year ever in 2012 with 13.6 million overnight visitors, generating more than $3.6 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 $545,000 in scholarships to 214 Colorado students pursuing higher education in the fields of tourism and hospitality.
For ticket information, please contact Joni Watkins at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303.571.9481.
Larry DiPasquale, Chairman & CEO, Epicurean Culinary Group
In the mid 1980s, after working in the Denver area for several years, the young, driven Larry DiPasquale took a major risk by launching Epicurean Group, an endeavor that promised little besides long hours and hard work. But his vision for the future, his fearless desire to change the way catering had been done in the past, and his long list of goals, including creating a better product for clients and a better work environment for employees, resulted in a dynamic and multi-faceted organization. Epicurean Group now acts as the premium concessionaire at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, exclusive event coordinator/caterer for The Denver Center for the Performing Arts, restaurateur/coordinator/caterer for Palazzo Verdi/Mangia Bevi, and is the preferred caterer at venues across the Front Range including properties in outlying mountain towns.
Epicurean has fed thousands at The 2008 Democratic National Convention, Pope John Paul II, Julia Child, Oprah Winfrey and every president since the original George Bush, a list few in the industry can claim. DiPasquale still considers the nod from the White House in 1988 to coordinate and cater the prestigious Summit of the Eight, as well as being selected to oversee the inaugural international event, as a major career highlight.
Epicurean Group, today the largest off-premise catering operation in the state of Colorado, employs more than 300 food service professionals who embrace DiPasqaule's goals and who understand the importance of exceeding client expectations. DiPasquale's keen business sense, and his desire to empower those who work under his leadership, has resulted in a team he trusts to carry forth the vision he has for Epicurean.
He has been recognized with numerous awards and accolades, including Small Business of the Year, Business Owner/Operator of the Year, Colorado Meetings & Events Lifetime Hall of Fame, Colorado Italian American Hall of Fame and the first caterer to be inducted into the Colorado Restaurant Hall of Fame. Epicurean Group is Denver's only caterer to be registered "Colorado Proud" by the State Department of Agriculture and they meet all of the EPA requirements for green events.
In addition to his significant business pursuits, Larry and his wife, Jill, are devoted to giving back to the community. In 2005, the DiPasquales and their business partner, Sharon Magness Blake, formed Epicurean Compassion to oversee and promote the company's charitable endeavors leading with The LRD Foundation, an education trust created to provide financial support to hospitality and culinary students. DiPasquale is intimately involved with We Don't Waste, providing more than 100,000 meals to homeless since 2011. And in addition to his 20-plus years of supporting Volunteers of America, DiPasquale now volunteers the Epicurean Food Truck twice a month to feed Denver's hungry and homeless.
Larry DiPasquale credits his success to his own entrepreneurial spirit, a tool which has helped him recognize that same drive in others. He is adamant about filling Epicurean's venues, offices, and kitchens with passionate team members who continually embody and display Epicurean Group's five core values: Amazing Food, Stellar Service, Nurturing Community & Relationships, Always Going Above & Beyond, and Passion for our Clients.
For his more than 30 years of excellence in providing Colorado catering, serving as a role model, and giving back to his community, Larry DiPasquale is honored as an inductee into the Denver & Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame.
Grace B. Gillette - Denver March Powwow
Grace Gillette has been in charge of staging the Denver March Powwow, one of the country's largest Native American cultural events, for 30 years, more than half of its existence. Powwow events range from dancing in Plains tribe styles and drumming to storytelling and a craft show, mixed with booths selling original Native American art and foods. The Powwow attracts 52,000 attendees over the weekend, 1,600 dancers and 73 drum groups from nearly 80 tribes, and has focused Denver as a center for Native American culture and activities.
Ms. Gillette belongs to the Arikara tribe. Growing up on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota, she learned the native traditions that powwows try to perpetuate. Ms. Gillette's father, George, was chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara), and had the life-time position of Tail Feather Carrier for the Arikara Tribe. This position has been passed on to her brother Russell. As a result, she has actively participated in the planning of numerous ceremonies and celebrations/dances her entire life.
Ms. Gillette was named in the Denver Business Journal's "Who's Who in Denver Business." She was also named in Strathmore's Who's Who, and more recently she was selected as one of "Denver's 150," a special honor recognizing ordinary citizens who are making extraordinary contributions to the Mile High City commemorating Denver's 150th Birthday. In December 2012, the American Indian College Fund named her "Elder of the Year."
Ms. Gillette is a graduate of Berea Foundation School, Berea, KY and Haskell Institute, Lawrence, KS.
For keeping Denver's deep Native American traditions alive and making them an integral part of the city's tourism and visitor industry, Grace Gillette is to be inducted into the Denver & Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame.
Dick Monfort, Owner/Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Colorado Rockies
In 2014, Dick Monfort will enter his 17th season with the Rockies franchise, continuing his role as Owner/Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for the Club.
Dick and his brother Charlie grew up in Greeley, Colorado and in 2005, became the primary owners of the Colorado Rockies. Dick and Charlie have established the Rockies as a leading organization in the Rocky Mountain Region in both the sport and business of baseball.
The Rockies led Major League Baseball in attendance the first seven seasons of the franchise and had a historic run in the 2007 season, winning 21 out of 22 games, leading to the franchise's first berth in the World Series. The Rockies continually place as one of the top tourist attractions in the Longwoods study, and they were the primary impetus behind the original development of LoDo and the current development of surrounding RiNo and Ballpark neighborhoods. With Dick's leadership and vision the Rockies have made Coors Field one of the premiere sports stadiums in the world. New to Coors Field in 2014 will be The Rooftop, the largest outdoor sports terrace in America with a bar that is one mile high and fifty-two feet, 80 inches long.
For his contribution to Denver at Coors Field and the spectacular contribution the Colorado Rockies have made to Denver's tourism industry, Dick Monfort is to be inducted into the Tourism Hall of Fame.
Joe and Jeff Shoemaker, The Greenway Foundation
Joe Shoemaker and his son Jeff have been committed to the reclamation, enhancement and preservation of the South Platte River in Denver for 40 years. Joe founded The Greenway Foundation in 1974, and since 1982 Jeff has served as its Executive Director.
Since it was founded, The Greenway Foundation has:
- Reclaimed the South Platte River and its tributaries from a virtual cesspool to a place of environmental and recreational pride
- Constructed more than 100 miles of hiking and biking trails
- Created more than 100 acres of parks and natural areas
- Designed and built numerous whitewater boat chutes
- Vastly improved the health of the South Platte River Watershed and its habitats
- Provided environmental education to more than 60,000 school children
- Employed more than 100 teenagers in youth employment programs
- Helped create more than $120 million of green improvements to the South Platte River and its tributaries, facilitating over $10 billion in residential and commercial development throughout the Denver Metro area
Joe will receive the award posthumously for his great contribution in having the vision to see what the South Platte could become. When he founded The Greenway Foundation, the South Platte was an eyesore, polluted, lined with garbage and completely devoid of any recreational opportunities. Joe was a graduate of the United States Naval Acadamy and the University of Iowa Law School. He was Denver's Manager of Public Works and Deputy Mayor under Mayor Dick Batteron, a Colorado State Senator from 1926-1976 and a practicing attorney for over 50 years.
Jeff is a graduate of Denver Public Schools and the University of Colorado. He was a public school teacher from 1977-1982, served as a member of the Colorado Legislature from 1987-1992 and was appointed to two terms on the CSU Board of Trustees from 1999-2008.
For their commitment to the revitalization of the South Platte River and enhancing the popular tourist neighborhoods of LoDo, LoHi, Riverfront, Ballpark and RiNo, The Greenway Foundation's founder and director, Joe and Jeff Shoemaker, are being inducted into the Denver & Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame.
For more information about The 15th Annual Denver & Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame, please visit TourismHallofFame.org.