Moonlight crowd 2000

See Somerset Tourism receives two Traverse Awards for Excellence at state conference

Moonlight Festival, #seemyset Art Market take bronze in experience development during KTIA’s annual conference

The last four years have been marked with scores of new expe­ri­ences in Som­er­set, with the addi­tion of fes­ti­vals and events that cel­e­brate food, music and art.

Two of those expe­ri­ences — Moon­light Fes­ti­val, the community’s sig­na­ture fall event, and the #see­my­set Art Mar­ket, an open-air mar­ket cre­at­ed to cel­e­brate tourism at home – were select­ed as bronze-lev­el win­ners in the expe­ri­ence devel­op­ment cat­e­go­ry last week at the 2022 Ken­tucky Trav­el Indus­try Asso­ci­a­tion (KTIA) Tra­verse Awards for Excel­lence.

The Tra­verse Awards, announced annu­al­ly KTIA’s Ken­tucky Trav­el Indus­try Con­fer­ence, cel­e­brate and hon­or the tal­ent, cre­ativ­i­ty and effec­tive­ness in mar­ket­ing among KTIA mem­bers. Gold, sil­ver and bronze win­ners are select­ed in 11 cat­e­gories and five divi­sions based on spe­cif­ic judg­ing cri­te­ria and annu­al bud­get size.

Three judges from out­side the state judge each entry and eval­u­ate its con­cept, cre­ativ­i­ty, results and impact, and over­all project impres­sion.

The expe­ri­ence devel­op­ment cat­e­go­ry was new to the com­pe­ti­tion this year, and with its addi­tion, See Som­er­set Tourism Direc­tor Leslie Ikerd said she saw an oppor­tu­ni­ty to high­light two of the community’s most pop­u­lar new expe­ri­ences at the state lev­el.

two women holding certificates in front of a step and repeat that says KTIA
See Som­er­set Tourism Direc­tor Leslie Ikerd, left, and City of Som­er­set Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Direc­tor Julie Har­ris at the 2022 KTIA Tra­verse Awards Gala.

“Our event team puts so many hours into build­ing expe­ri­ences that tell Somerset’s sto­ry through food, music and art, so that peo­ple who vis­it know how spe­cial this place tru­ly is and peo­ple at home can cel­e­brate it,” Ikerd said. “To be able to share this sto­ry with my fel­low tourism pro­fes­sion­als and be rec­og­nized for it with these awards is an hon­or.”

Ikerd devel­oped the #see­my­set Art Mar­ket dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic as a safe, open-air event that high­light­ed tourism at home. Instead of host­ing the mar­ket in downtown’s streets, Ikerd select­ed a venue out­side the city lim­its — tak­ing down­town into the coun­ty to pro­mote all it has to offer to res­i­dents. The event fea­tured food trucks, local and region­al art ven­dors, and acoustic music sets through­out the day.

Dur­ing the event, See Som­er­set Tourism also unveiled its Mur­al Walk, a col­lab­o­ra­tion with the city’s Healthy Som­er­set ini­tia­tive to encour­age phys­i­cal activ­i­ty while enjoy­ing out­door art.

“The art mar­ket was a won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ty for us to think local­ly and region­al­ly and ensure that those who live in our com­mu­ni­ty know about the tal­ent and cre­ativ­i­ty that exists in their back­yard,” Ikerd said. “It was a wel­come event to so many who had been shel­ter­ing at home dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, and to the artists and busi­ness­es who need­ed our sup­port dur­ing this time.”

Moon­light Fes­ti­val has become the offi­cial kick­off to fall in down­town Som­er­set, a cel­e­bra­tion that dur­ing the last four years has drawn thou­sands to expe­ri­ence a day full of music, food and live art cre­ation. This free event attract­ed a record crowd this year — near­ly 9,000 peo­ple from across the coun­try (includ­ing states like New Jer­sey, Ohio and Mis­souri) attend­ed on Oct. 15.

Ikerd said Moon­light Fes­ti­val has become the anchor of all of Somerset’s fes­ti­vals, and it has been excit­ing to watch it devel­op into a com­mu­ni­ty and region­al favorite.

“There’s just some­thing about this fes­ti­val,” Ikerd said. “The crisp fall weath­er, the sounds of out­stand­ing music float­ing through the air, the smell and taste of Kentucky’s best fla­vors — it’s a tru­ly spe­cial event that has become a sta­ple in our com­mu­ni­ty. I am grate­ful the judges saw Moon­light Festival’s unique­ness because I believe it will be an event that becomes part of Somerset’s his­to­ry.”

chalkboard that says welcome to the see my set art market with a painted bourbon barrel next to it
The #see­my­set Art Mar­ket received a bronze Tra­verse Award for expe­ri­ence devel­op­ment at the 2022 KTIA annu­al con­fer­ence.
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