SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau (GSCVB) has announced the 58 finalists for the 2023 Howdy Awards for Hospitality Excellence.

The Howdy Awards was established by GSCVB in 1996 to recognize front-line employees in the hospitality industry. The 58 finalists are from throughout western Massachusetts and were selected from businesses, organizations and activities in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. The judging panel will be comprised of a group of recognized industry professionals.

“The Howdy Awards really do double-duty for our region,” said Michael Hurwitz, owner of Uno Pizzeria & Grill at the Holyoke Mall and chair of the GSCVB Howdy Awards Committee. “The first purpose is to salute the outstanding individuals who work so hard to make a visit to Western Mass a memorable, high-value experience. They keep people coming back. The second purpose is to help everyone who lives and works here to recognize and appreciate the vital role that tourism plays in our regional economy.”

According to a news release sent to 22News from GSCVB, one winner will be named in each of the nine categories:

  • Accommodations
  • Attractions
  • Banquets & Meetings
  • Beverage
  • Food–Casual
  • Food-Tableside
  • Public Service
  • Retail
  • Transportation

The People’s Choice Award is a category open to the public for voting on the ‘Explore Western Mass’ Facebook page which allows customers to get involved and cast a vote for excellent customer service in the region. The Spotlight Award, which recognizes individuals or organizations that have made a significant contribution to the tourism industry in Western Mass will be presented to the Bean Restaurant Group, according to GSCVB.

In the category of Accommodations:

  • Edward Williams-Townsend: Front Desk at Inn on Boltwood in Amherst
  • Simon Quinn: Front Desk at Inn on Boltwood in Amherst
  • Charlene Golden: Front Desk at Residence Inn in Chicopee
  • Jennifer Selivanoff: Front Desk at Red Roof Plus in S. Deerfield

In the category of Attractions:

  • Bill Vezina: Crew Chief at Bright Nights at Springfield Park Department in Springfield
  • Santa Lenny Stratton: Santa Claus at Yankee Candle Village in S. Deerfield
  • Laura Kalisz: Executive Assistant to the President at Eastern States Exposition in W. Springfield
  • Glenn Greenough: General Maintenance at Eastern States Exposition in W. Springfield
  • Cindy Burke: Event Usher at MassMutual Center in Springfield
  • Debbie Little: Event Usher at MassMutual Center in Springfield
  • Mike Furman: Park Caretaker at Look Park in Florence
  • Lauren Blanchard: Account Executive at Springfield Thunderbirds in Springfield

In the Category of Beverage:

  • Susanne Hynes: Bartender at Blue Rock in Shelburne Falls
  • Matthew Desereau: Bartender / Manager at Craft 32 Restaurant in E. Longmeadow
  • Tana Bolanger: Bartender at Grapevine Grill in Belchertown
  • Karl Philemy: Bartender at Posto Italian in Longmeadow
  • Mike Lizak: Bartender at The Federal in Agawam
  • Melissa McDevitt: Bartender at The Hideaway Lounge/Riffs in Easthampton
  • Amanda Byrne Bartender: The Ranch Golf Club in Southwick
  • Andrew Fabin: Bartender at MassMutual Center in Springfield
  • Aechemia Cote: Bartender at Irish Ale House in Springfield
  • Marco Ciurleo: Bartender at The Federal in Agawam

In the Category of Banquet & Meetings:

  • Brenda Lee Glanville: Catering Manager at Hamel’s Creative Catering in Holyoke
  • Peter Mitch: Attendant at Inn on Boltwood in Amherst
  • Catherine Kingsbury-Jindela: Catering Sales Manager at Inn on Boltwood in Amherst
  • Julio Pagan: Event Manager at MassMutual Center in Springfield
  • Tatiana Vega: Server at The Log Cabin in Holyoke

In the category of Food – Casual:

  • Mustafa Imzad: Customer Service at Coldstone Creamery in Springfield
  • Bridgette Chaffee: Owner at Great Falls Harvest Market & Restaurant in Turners Falls
  • Silvana Cardaropoli: Server at Palazzo Café in Springfield
  • Christina Raschi: Owner/Operator at 413 Café in Springfield
  • Leanne Gustafson: Manager at Chrissy G’s Bakery in Westfield
  • Cecelia Friedenberg: Barista at Starbucks Springfield College in Springfield

In the category of Food – Tableside:

  • Julie Molinary: Server/Owner at 1636 North in Springfield
  • Jill Sherman: Server at Grapevine in Longmeadow
  • Diana Lacroix: Server at Charlie’s Diner in W. Springfield
  • Carissa Vuong: Server at Pho Saigon in Springfield
  • Estephanie Diaz: Server at Posto Italian in Longmeadow
  • Sonya Bastarache: Server at Chandler Steakhouse in Springfield
  • Robert Vermast: Server at The Federal in Agawam
  • Carmela Malafronte: Server at The Student Prince in Springfield
  • Amy Silvestri: Manager at Uno’s Pizzeria & Grill in Holyoke
  • Rosemary Koski: Server at The Whately Inn in Whately

In the Category of Public Service:

  • David Cilley: Lead Lab Assistant at Baystate Medical Center in Holyoke
  • Mike Chalero: Orderly at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield
  • Caroline Robinson: Concierge at Baystate Tolosky Center in Springfield
  • Stephanie Chaffee: Pre-school Director at Boys & Girls Club in W. Springfield
  • Michael Dion: Regional Manager at Kleen Rite Services/Union Station in Springfield
  • Rebecca Gendron: Hairstylist at Studio 1262 Hair Lounge in Chicopee

In the Category of Retail/Business:

  • Betty Lam: Cashier at Big Y in S. Hadley
  • January Russell: Insurance Agent at Horace Mann Insurance in Feeding Hills
  • Cindy Browning: Sales Associate at Yankee Candle Village in South Deerfield
  • Elaina Gianatassio: Receptionist at Yankee Candle Village in South Deerfield
  • Shannon Borrell: Store Conductor at Mill District Art Gallery in Amherst

In the Category of Transportation:

  • Madeline Rivera: School Bus Driver at First Student in Springfield
  • Tawana Banks: Parking Lot Attendant, TD Bank Lot at ProPark in Springfield
  • Everett Anderson: Motorcoach Operator at Peter Pan Bus Lines in Springfield
  • Walter Gould: Parking Lot Attendant at Red Rose Pizza in Springfield

Hurwitz says that over 5,000 people are employed in the region’s tourism sector, with payroll exceeding $205 million, generating over $20 million in local tax revenue. “We’re talking about big, important numbers; these dollars circulate through our economy supporting other jobs and business as well. The overall economic impact of tourism in Western Mass is extremely significant,” added Hurwitz.

Winners will be announced and honored at this year’s gala dinner and awards on May 15, at the MassMutual Center. For tickets or more information regarding the Howdy Awards, call Michele Goldberg at GSCVB at (413) 755-1344.