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Visit Brainerd, Madden's, Grand View take top honors

This year’s Best of Awards were held at the Minneapolis Events Center on March 20 and saw many local resorts, tourism and social media efforts not only nominated, but also awarded as some of top honors outside the metro area. All awards are decided by Reader’s Choice for the Minnesota Meetings + Events Magazine Best of the Industry Awards winners will be highlighted in the publication’s spring issue.

Winners included Visit Brainerd, which for a second consecutive year took home the Best Convention + Visitors Bureau award, with population less than 25,000. Cited for its social media efforts and strategic planning, Visit Brainerd brought many tourism opportunities serving as a “go­ to source for fun information in the area,” said Richard Polipnick, executive director.

Winning in a brand new category for 2013 was Madden’s on Gull Lake for the Best Social Media Presence (CVB, venue or company), beating out some of the Twin Cities’ larger presences.

“We are honored to win an award for our presence on social media,” said Brian Thuringer, president of Madden’s on Gull Lake. “Our resort began at a time when social media did not exist, however, throughout the years we have developed a strong social community that continues to inspire what we do today. It is our goal to provide the quality Madden’s experience to our guests not only while on the property, but all year long.”

Madden’s opens for its 85th season on April 25 with an annual opening party celebration April 25-27. Room rates for opening weekend start at $85 per person, per night.

Grand View Lodge won a triple crown of awards, including Best Resort with Meetings/Event Space, Best Venue Outside of Metro and Best Golf Venue as cited for having the best year­-round activities, atmosphere and amenities. This was the second consecutive year for Grand View Lodge to be awarded in these same categories.

“Twice in two years is a pretty remarkable honor,” said Frank Soukup, director of marketing for Grand View Lodge. “What is so amazing is that these awards are becoming more focused on the Brainerd lakes area versus other Greater Minnesota communities. It is a true testament that the area’s activities, restaurants, resorts, lodges and community events are making quite the impression on our visitors. It makes Grand View Lodge proud to be part of this incredible community.”

Other nominees for awards included Ruttger’s, Breezy Point Resort, Cragun’s, Nisswa’s and Cuyuna’s Chamber of Commerce.

The “Best Of Awards” are designed to honor the cream of the crop in the regional meetings and events industry. Every winner in the Annual Readers’ Choice Best Of Award campaign is hand-picked by the meeting planners, event planners and suppliers who read Minnesota Meetings + Events magazine.

This year, at the 2013 Best of Awards, the 12th Annual Minnesota Edition, Visit Brainerd pointed to winning the award at a time that coincides with many changes in the organization’s message and strategy. Visit Brainerd is focused on bringing visitors to Brainerd and Baxter. Visit Brainerd’s message is “Explore New Adventures in Brainerd, Minnesota’s Playground.” This message is delivered through its website,, visitor guides, biking guides and ongoing marketing efforts targeting Minneapolis/St. Paul, Fargo/Moorhead, and a five-state region around Minnesota. In addition, Visit Brainerd reports it has more than 11,000 active Facebook fans, a heavily viewed YouTube channel and other active social tools.

To learn more about the “Best Of Awards” or to see a list of winners from the 2013 awards, as well as the previous years, can be viewed on

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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