A Columbus man has won the grand prize in a Nebraska tourism contest.
Ryan Sidwell will receive an Apple® iPad™ valued at $800 for winning the 2012 Nebraska Passport program. He also earned other prizes while participating in the program.
The Passport program, sponsored by the Nebraska Tourism Commission, encourages travelers to explore Nebraska and take home great prizes. This year’s Passport featured 80 stops organized into 10 special interest tours: culinary, culture, family fun, festivals, golf, GROW Nebraska, parks, unique accommodations, water adventure and wineries.
Travelers visited participating locations over the summer and collected stamps that could be redeemed for prizes. If visitors completed an interest tour, they received a T-shirt; 25 stamps earned a $25 GROW Nebraska gift card; and 40 stamps a Canon Powershot digital camera.
Sidwell, who teaches social studies at Twin River High School in Genoa, visited 47 Passport stops with his wife and a group of friends.
“Wow! Talk about the icing on the cake,” Sidwell said of winning the grand prize. “My wife, my friends, and I greatly enjoyed all four of our Nebraska Passport trips. One great thing about the Nebraska Passport program is that, with its format and all of its options, there is truly a tour for everyone.
“My favorites were the culinary, unique accommodations and winery tours. In regards to tourism, it's absolutely amazing to see all the great things that Nebraska has to offer. I can't wait to visit the stops on the 2013 Nebraska Passport.”
The group traveled with a garden gnome it dubbed the “Husker Gnome” because of his Husker attire. Sidwell wrote and submitted 14 blog entries from the gnome’s perspective, along with photos of the gnome at Passport stops (pictured at Sage Hill Vineyard in Parks, Neb.)
To see the Husker Gnome’s journeys click on the link below.
More than 19,976 households participated in the Passport program this year, and 192 Passports were submitted for prizes. Of those entries, 290 tours were completed, 170 traveled to 25 or more stops, and 106 visited more than 40 stops.
Details of the 2013 Nebraska Passport program will be announced in early 2013.