DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Tourism Conference has concluded with some awards, and some inspiration.

First the inspiration comes in the form of Destination Iowa, a $100 million fund of federal dollars from the Biden Administration.  The money will be used to inspire creation of more destination attractions.

“It’s an absolutely enormous investment in the tourism industry at $100 million,” said Jessica O’Reilly, of the Iowa Tourism Marketing Office, “We’re really hoping communities will take the time and think big  transformational projects that will bring a lot of tourists to their area.”

Applications will be taken starting May 9th. Economic Development officials will go over the applications, making awards by the end of 2022.  The projects will need to be completed by 2026.

“So it could be renovating a facility into an architectural hub or it could be building a sculpture park like Des Moines did,” said O’Reilly, “I’m really hoping that we’ll get those huge transformational projects that will excite people that encourage to come to Iowa”

Every year Travel Iowa hands out awards for top attractions, and marketing efforts. The year, the top award, The People’s Choice, and also the Best Large Market Dining Experience went to the Wells Blue Bunny Visitors Center.

“Getting the recognition among like-minded tourism people is wonderful, I mean I think it’s a testament to all the work that we are doing in Le Mars and at Wells Blue Bunny specifically to try and make the Wells with ice cream parlor the number one tourist destination in Iowa,” said Shannon Rodenberg, of the Wells Blue Bunny Visitors Center. “So you know this is our way of saying that it’s working and it’s a celebration of that.”

Des Moines was recognized for the top Metro event in Iowa with the Dew Tour.

“This event organizers became very impressed with the host city’s vision and passion,” said Jay Goodvin, emcee of the award ceremonies. “The event garnered international attention through the athletes coming to come to compete iand their followers along with everyone that watched via live stream and the NBC broadcast.”y nowadays by the way.

The real Iowa Event winner was “Beyond the Field of Dreams held in Dyersville along with the Major League Baseball Game played there.