From Left to Right: Executive Director of Wyoming Office of Tourism Diane Shober, Governor Mark Gordon, “Big WYO” Recipient Rick Hoeninghausen, Karen Hoeninghausen, Tori Hoeninghausen, Executive Director of Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition Chris Brown. (Courtesy)

WYOMING – On behalf of the entire hospitality and tourism industry, the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association (WLRA) and the Wyoming Office of Tourism happily recognized Rick Hoeninghausen as this year’s recipient of the annual “Big WYO” award.

Rick works as the Director of Sales & Marketing at Xanterra in Yellowstone. Friends, family and industry partners celebrated Rick’s achievement at last week’s “Salute to the Industry Gala” where Governor Mark Gordon presented the award.

Governor Mark Gordon (L) with Rick Hoeninghausen (R). (Courtesy)

“It would be odd if a girl didn’t think her dad was the best at everything: the best story teller, the best bedtime song singer, the best monster slayer, the best dad,” Tori Hoeninghausen, Rick’s daughter, said. “From an early age, I’ve seen the dedication he has for tourism and the passion he has for Wyoming and Yellowstone.”

Each year, the “Big WYO” award is sponsored by the WLRA and given to an individual who has done an outstanding job promoting and improving the tourism industry in Wyoming.

Rick has spent over 20 years working to better the tourism industry. His joyous personality and hard work exemplify just a few of the many reasons that he received the award.

“Needless to say, it’s not a surprise to me that he has finally received the professional recognition he deserves, and he can now add best in Wyoming Tourism to his list of achievements,” Tori continued.

As an advocate and supporter of lodging and tourism in Wyoming, Rick is known for his love of the Cowboy State, his joy working in Yellowstone and the care with which he raised a family in Wyoming.

This year marks the 42nd anniversary of the “Big WYO” award.

Past winners

  • 1977 Harry Smith
  • 1978 Marv Harshman
  • 1979 Bob Dohse
  • 1980 Duane Von Krosigk
  • 1981 Peter Hassrick
  • 1982 Ralph McMullen
  • 1983 Norm Parker
  • 1984 Dorris Stalker
  • 1985 Bill Bragg
  • 1986 Governor Ed Hershler
  • 1987 Clarene and Creed Law
  • 1988 John Olson
  • 1989 Quin Blair
  • 1990 Pat Self
  • 1991 Paul Smith
  • 1992 Pat Sweeney
  • 1993 Jim Hearne
  • 1994 Carol Waller
  • 1995 Clay James
  • 1996 Don and Doris Bunn
  • 1997 Wayne Worthen
  • 1996 Don and Doris Bunn
  • 1997 Wayne Worthen
  • 1998 Gene Bryan
  • 1999 Bill Sniffin
  • 2000 Trudy McCraken
  • 2001 Gene & Carol Kupke
  • 2002 Ted Blair
  • 2003 Jeff Heilbrun
  • 2004 Edna Kennell
  • 2005 Manuel Lopez
  • 2006 Claudia Wade
  • 2007 Dave Rader
  • 2008 Chuck Box
  • 2009 Jim McCaleb
  • 2010 Governor Dave Freudenthal
  • 2011 Steve Meadows
  • 2012 Rex Brown
  • 2013 Chuck Cook
  • 2014 Kari Cooper
  • 2015 Clay Miller
  • 2016 Jerry Blann
  • 2017 John Johnson
  • 2018 Doug and Kathleen Campbell