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2021 Winners

For the past 27 years, the Florida Festivals & Events Association has celebrated our members' achievements in event marketing, programming, service and innovation through the Sunsational Awards.

The Sunsational Awards are judged in three different budget levels and 20 different categories. Members may submit one item per category per event for nomination.

We had 400 submissions for the Sunsational Awards and we are thrilled to honor over 50 organizations and individuals representing over 140 events.

Congratulations to the following organizations on winning at least one award this year!
ArtFest Fort Myers, Inc.
City of Boca Raton
City of Boynton Beach CRA
City of Clermont
City of Coconut Creek Parks & Recreation
City of Coral Springs
City Of Gainesville
City of Hialeah
City of Hialeah Parks & Recreation
City of Hollywood PRCA
City of Lake Worth Beach
City of North Port Parks & Recreation
City of Orlando
City of Ormond Beach
City of Oviedo
City of Pinellas Park
City of Pompano Beach
City of Pompano Beach Parks & Recreation
City Of Tamarac
City of West Palm Beach
City of Winter Park
Clay County Agricultural Fair
EPIC Outdoor Cinema
Festival Management Group, Inc.
Florida State Fair
Fort Myers Beach Intl Film Festival
International Polo Club Palm Beach
Jupiter Bounce
Lee County VCB
Lion Country Safari
Manatee Lagoon
Marine Industries Assn of S FL
Martin County Fair
Palm Beach Intl Equestrian Center
PB North Chamber of Commerce
Schmidt Family Centre for the Arts
Seabreeze Jazz Festival
Sebring Chamber of Commerce
Solid Waste Authority of PBCy
South Florida Fair
Spirit of Suwannee Music Park
Sugar Sand Park Community Center
The John & Mable Ringling Museum
Town of Miami Lakes
Town Of Orange Park
Twilight Features - Outdoor Cinema
Village of Wellington
Visit Panama City Beach
West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority
Winterfest, Inc.
Check out our Facebook Page for a Full Gallery of Award Winners.

For more information on this year's awards program, visit our Sunsational Award Overview page or the Application Guidelines.

Distinguished Awards

Winners of the Distinguished Awards are nominated by their peers for their innovation, dedication to the industry and demonstration of leadership.

Supplier of the Year


Community events came to a quick halt during the pandemic forcing many special events to shut down completely. There was also concern about the seclusion required to keep safe during quarantine and how that affected the emotional wellbeing of all. Fortunately, with this supplier’s products they were already in the best position to assist different types of venues with the transition.

In order to combat these barriers, the owner of this company reached out to community organizations and they teamed up to create weekly drive-in events. The goal for all organizations was to give those stuck in the pandemic an escape from lockdown. All involved wanted to drive visitors and enhance community engagement in a safe environment. This company offered various options to keep theaters as well as other local businesses open in response to the pandemic. Their primary contribution was a seamless outdoor technical production and innovative cinematic experience.

While the rest of the country was shut down, they produced over 200 safe and socially distanced cinema events indoors and out providing entertainment for all ages to enjoy. With their professional team and exceptional equipment, non-traditional venues were transformed into a cinema space increasing visibility and potential audience size due to social distancing or limited indoor seats. Some venues turned their outdoors into mini drive-ins, some presented movies in partnership with restaurants for “dinner and movie date nights'', and even “Boatin Movies” with screens floating on the water or on a pool. As professionals in the festivals and events arena, we now have this unique opportunity to reinvent, reimagine and rethink the way we produce events while guests continue to experience the same excitement that they have always delivered, perhaps in a different way and Nick and his team at Twilight Features has certain accomplished that.

Supplier of the Year


Our 2020 Supplier of the Year is a highly qualified and respected professional with over 30 years of experience in the events industry as both an employee and currently as a consultant. With experience in all sides of the industry, coupled with exceptional customer service skills, this supplier is an invaluable partner to her clients – some for as long as 20 years.

Some would say that the difference between hiring an employee and a consultant is that a consultant can wipe their hands and walk away, leaving an employee to clean up a mess. But this consultant voluntarily goes above and beyond during normal event operations and unexpected challenges. Known for their “tactful tenacity”, this individual has helped one client to increase their sponsorship revenue for special events by as much as 400%.

But perhaps the most impressive part of this nomination is this comment from the nominator: “Our long standing, mutually respectful relationship with Cinde enables her to provide us with honest feedback. She pushes us to be the best and tells us what we need to hear in addition to what we like to hear. She always has the City’s best interests in mind and proactively seeks to help the Community Events Division accomplish our mission: to become a worldwide benchmark for the promotion of municipalities.”

Innovative Project / Event


The 2021 Innovative Project Winner wanted to give the media something to talk about other than their event COVID protocols. They knew the local media loved talking about quirky and unique aspects of events, and were also looking for ways to increase attendance on a typically slower day. This team is known for their creativity – in the past doing everything from Goat Yoga to Redneck Romper Contests so it’s no surprise that they came up with the concept of Speed Dating on the Ferris Wheel – and their media partners loved it. Dubbed “a modern way to meet singles”, the Clay County Fair took looking for love to new heights. Over 100 singles participated in the event and 5 matches were made and the value of media impressions was priceless.

Innovative Project / Event


A 20-year old signature event wasn't about to succumb to a pandemic that kept people homebound for months on end. It took some initiative, creative thinking, planning and executing for this two-weekend family activity, albeit with a different look and feel, and safety as the top priority.

Though it wasn't the typical family-oriented "walk-through" October event, Spookyville at the South Florida Fairgrounds came alive as an inviting drive-through Halloween experience to over 4,500 carloads of families able to enjoy a slow cruise with friendly faces, familiar songs, Halloween sets, actors, and lots of candy, while staying in the safety of their car the entire time.

The one-mile experience winding through historic Yesteryear Village exceeded expectations as carloads were "treated" to the story of Halloween in a number of different settings. Attractions ranged from video mapping and music to colorful props and Halloween decor on the historic buildings, live actors playing out their roles, costumed volunteers, vignettes and fog machines enhanced guests' experiences, all the while listening to the storyline tale on their mobile devices. Over 10,000 pounds of prepackaged candies and treats as well as craft making supplies were safely passed through vehicle windows into treat bags as wide-eyed adults and kids waited to see what was around the next bend.

While screams and oh's and ah's resonated from vehicles, limousines, pick-up truck beds, RV's and convertibles, the common reaction was laughter, smiles and "Thank You's."

Emerging Leader


Our 2021 Emerging Leader graduated from UCF with a degree in Event Management and began their career in 2018. She has been with her employer since graduation and started as Marketing and Events Coordinator and in the past three years has been promoted twice and now serves as the Director of Events. At only 25 years of age, she is leading the production and execution of over 100 events per year, including the three large signature events with a combine 250,000 attendees.

In 2021, her leadership skills shone through during the planning and production of the ArtiGras Fine Arts Festival. In addition to navigating COVID, the location where ArtiGras had been held for 12 consecutive years was under construction which required a venue change. With only two months before the scheduled event date, the decision was made to move forward with the event and in a new location. The festival ended up being a complete success. She handled every situation with grace and strength. She has incredible vision, is extremely organized and she is unstoppable.

Chairman's Award of Excellence


This person took the lemons that 2020 gave them and made some lemonade – pivoting to a virtual event when most of us didn’t even know what that was. She then came back in 2021 and hosted her event in-person at full scale with record breaking attendance and even offering a vaccination site during the 11 day event. She’s done amazing things to grow her event, and encourage the industry to be innovative with their events – leading webinars, sharing by example and mentoring emerging leaders.

Beyond her event, she’s also a community leader. With a passion for helping others, we saw her packing over 700 boxes of food with Team Rubicon, advocating for shelter animals and coordinating donations for the local emergency management for food banks during COVID. A champion for diversity and inclusion in our industry, she was one of the first to step up and join the FFEA DEI Task Force and created programs within her organization to make sure all members of the community could participate in the Fair.

When she joined FFEA, she jumped right in, first volunteering at conference, then eventually chairing a committee, joining the Board and currently serving on the Executive Committee as our Secretary. She is always lending a helping hand and has the best interests of the organization always top of mind.

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