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2017 Winners

For the past 23 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 19 different categories. Members may submit one item per category per event for nomination.

We had a record number of more than 400 submissions for the Sunsational Awards and we are thrilled to honor over 40 organizations and individuals representing over 120 events.

Congratulations to the following organizations on winning at least one award this year!
Blue-Grey Army, Inc.
Cape Coral Parks & Recreation
City of Boca Raton
City of Boynton Beach
City of Boynton Beach CRA
City Of Clearwater - Parks & Recreation
City of Clermont
City of Coral Springs
City of Gainesville
City of Hialeah
City Of Lake Worth
City of North Miami Parks & Recreation Department
City of North Port
City of Pompano Beach
City of Tamarac
City Of West Palm Beach
Clay County Agricultural Fair

Coconut Grove Arts & Historical Association
Dania Beach Community Redevelopment Agency
Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative
Evergreen Lifestyles Management
Festival Management Group, Inc.
Florida Renaissance Festival
Florida State Fair Authority
Fort Myers Beach Film Festival
Fort Myers Beach Friends of the Arts
Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau
Leesburg Partnership
Lion Country Safari
MacManda Media
Margate Community Redevelopment Agency
Melrose Lifestyle Services
Palm Beach County Public Affairs
Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce
Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau
Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival
Schmidt Family Centre for the Arts
Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County
South Florida Fair & Palm Beach County Expositions, Inc.
Spirit of Suwannee Music Park
Town Of Orange Park
Village of Wellington
West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency
West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority
Winterfest, Inc.

Click on any of the images below for a complete photo gallery of all of the award winners.

Distinguished Awards

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

Innovative Event or Project

Panama City Beach Convention & Visitor's Bureau - "UNwineD"

When confronted with a negative reputation and 40% loss in Tourist Development revenue, Panama City Beach set out to rebrand the destination for the month of March and change the narrative with an outdoor food and wine event, called UNwineD.

UNwineD showcased an elegant, Southern garden party food and wine festival with adults behaving beautifully, while drinking responsibly, instead of their current reputation of a crazy Spring Break party town.

Presented in partnership with Garden & Gun magazine, the two-day southern garden party featured craft beer, spirits and wine from around the world, plus culinary creations by Northwest Florida’s leading chefs, along with a live musical performance by Grammy-nominated and acclaimed American folk-rock band, The Avett Brothers.

The event was extremely successful with 11 states represented and Tourist Development Tax Numbers were up 19.2 percent.

Emerging Leader

David Fernandez

As the Director of Communications and Special for the City of Hialeah, David Fernandez oversees 180 employees and coordinates and creatively develops 200+ events and activities a year. David’s peers and colleagues describe him as a true community man. There is no doubt where he is from as he shows his pride for his city and his job in everything he does.

David is an innovator who has his finger on the pulse of what’s hot and blends that strategically with what needs to be accomplished for his community.

David started his career with the City of Hialeah over 10 years ago but continues to grow and excel as a leader for his city and his community and his accomplishments continue to be recognized on a local, regional and state level.

Supplier of the Year

Anheuser Busch Wholesalers

Anheuser-Busch has 21 wholesaler locations that support events throughout the state of Florida. They don’t just act as suppliers, but rather as partners, making sure each event they work with is successful in many ways.

Their partnerships assist events not only with increasing revenues but also providing activation to ensure corporate social responsibility.

We have been fortunate to have them as FFEA Sponsor Partners for the past 12 years as they come together from throughout the entire state to connect not only with each other but also with our members.

Director's Award

Rita Demier-Lincoln

Originally from Barranquilla, Colombia, Rita has lived in Florida for the past 17 years. She received a bachelor’s degree in Communications as well as a master’s degree in Marketing & Advertising. With more than 25 years of experience in advertising and graphic design, she is currently the Director of Marketing at the South Florida Fair in West Palm Beach, where she’s been for 13 years and was voted by her peers Employee of the Year in 2007.

As a former Board Member, Executive Committee Member and current Marketing Committee Member, Rita has made an incredible impact on FFEA by consistently dedicating her time and talent to enrich our programs. Her marketing and design expertise has helped FFEA to reach new heights in membership, conference registration and overall branding. She dedicates countless hours every year producing the graphics and materials for the conference – and helping the visions of the marketing committee to become a reality.

Anyone who knows her will tell you about her fiery spirit, fierce love for her family and friends and passion for all things Marketing and Design.

In addition to her volunteer service for FFEA, Rita is also an active member of the Florida Federation of Fairs, the Discover The Palm Beaches Sales & Marketing Advisory Council, as well as a Board Member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach County. She enjoys riding her Harley, the beach, golfing, and reading. Rita currently resides in Boca Raton with her husband Chris.

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