Jefferson Matters’ Experience Jefferson website honored with Iowa Tourism award

Special to the Jefferson Herald

The Iowa Tourism Office recently recently honored the Experience Jefferson website, an entity of Jefferson Matters: Main Street with an award for the most outstanding website by a rural town.

The tourism office presented 25 awards in all recognizing excellence in the tourism industry during the 2023 Iowa Tourism Conference in Altoona last week.

“We continue to see tourism rebound in Iowa,” said Amy Zeigler, state tourism manager for the Iowa Tourism Office. “Events are definitely back, as evidenced by the 25 nominations we received for Outstanding Event. We look forward to continuing the positive momentum in 2023.”

Awards, divided into metro and rural distinctions, were made in 13 categories. In addition, conference attendees voted for the People’s Choice Award; nominees were the second-highest scoring nominations. The Visit Fort Dodge website was honored in the metro category.

The website was unveiled in July of 2022, developed through a Rural Return Iowa Grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority. The website leans on the slogan, “Come experience rural living rediscovered,” providing a platform to showcase everything Jefferson and Greene County have to offer, located conveniently in one place. The website is engaging to look through and provides a little taste of what it
would be like to visit or become a Jefferson resident.

“The goal of the site is to grab the attention of those interested in potentially moving to a rural community and excite them enough to put Jefferson on their list as an option,” Abby McConnell, website designer said last year. “There is a huge movement right now in the growth of rural communities after Covid due to people realizing that rural living can provide individuals and families more space, embraces entrepreneurial opportunities, and allows the ability to take advantage of a lower cost of living.”

An eight-member committee wanted to draw prospective residents to information about the county, referencing many different offerings throughout the area. In the end, they created a central hub for everything Jefferson and Greene County.

The Iowa Tourism Office, part of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, works closely with community partners, attractions and events, to promote the state’s beautifully vast scenery and unique history. Tourism in Iowa generated $1.8 billion in tax revenues in 2021, with more than $1 billion supporting state and local governments, while employing a total of 65,000 people statewide. For more information on everything Iowa has to offer tourists, visit

The complete list of 2023 Iowa Tourism Award recipients:
Outstanding Website
Visit Fort Dodge (Metro)
Jefferson Matters: A Main Street & Chamber Community (Rural)

Outstanding Attraction
 Wilson’s Orchard & Farm, Iowa City (Metro)
Surf Ballroom & Museum, Clear Lake (Rural)
Outstanding Community
Council Bluffs (Metro)
Winterset (Rural)
Outstanding Dining Business
de Kelder Speakeasy, Pella (Metro)
Harvestville Farm, Donnellson (Rural)
Outstanding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative
Iowa State Fair Sensory-Friendly Morning, Des Moines (Metro)
Outstanding Event
Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, Council Bluffs (Metro)
Sidney Iowa Championship Rodeo (Rural)
Outstanding Individual Leader
Joshua Schamberger, President at Think Iowa City (Metro)
Delaney Evers, Tourism and Main Street Director at PACT, Centerville
Outstanding Lodging Property
King’s Pointe Waterpark Resort, Storm Lake (Metro)
Field of Dreams Movie Site, Dyersville (Rural)
Outstanding Marketing Collaboration
Cedar Falls Tourism & KWWL (Metro)
Tour O’Brien County (Rural)
Outstanding Niche Market Initiative
Catch Des Moines (Metro)
Outstanding Promotional Material
Catch Des Moines (Metro)
Iowa Valley RC&D, Amana (Rural)
Outstanding Retail Experience
The District: Czech Village & New Bohemia, Cedar Rapids (Metro)
Cody Road Shopping District, LeClaire (Rural)

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