Visit South Walton opens Van Ness Butler Jr. Award nominations

Special to the Walton Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK

SANTA ROSA BEACH — Visit South Walton recently announced the opening of nominations for The Van Ness Butler, Jr. Award.

The Van Ness Butler, Jr. award recognizes the legacy of service embodied by the Butler family, who founded the Grayton Beach Hotel and through their family’s passion, determination and energy set the stage for the developing tourism industry.

Nominees for the award are judged on their initiative, merits and innovation in achieving organizational success and on working with other businesses or organizations to enhance Walton County’s local, national or international standing as a travel destination.

Nominations are open to any person living or working in the county who has been an outstanding force in promoting tourism and hospitality.

Jim Shirley holds the Van Ness Butler Jr. Visit South Walton Hospitality & Tourism Award he won in 2020. Nominations for this year's award will be accepted until 5 p.m. Feb. 28.

“Walton County is home to incredibly talented and caring individuals who spend countless hours giving back and making a difference,” said Matt Algarin, director of communications for the Walton County Tourism Department. “This award is an opportunity to recognize someone who strives to make the Walton County tourism economy shine, all while enhancing the quality of life within the community.”

The winner will be announced during an upcoming Walton County Tourist Development Council meeting.

Past winners include Jim Shirley in 2020, Tracy Louthain in 2019, Lino Maldonado in 2017, Jennifer Steele in 2016, Mike Ragsdale in 2015 and Jeanne Dailey in 2014.

Nominations will be accepted until 5 p.m. Feb. 28.

To learn more about the award or to make a nomination, visit the VSW website at