ELKHART — Two pillars of Elkhart County’s hospitality industry were among 18 honored last week by the state of Indiana with its annual Hoosier Hospitality Awards.

Diana Bennett of Millersburg and Karleen Richter of Elkhart received their awards at a ceremony Friday, Aug. 19, 2016, at the Indiana State Fair. Presented by Indiana Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, the Hoosier Hospitality Awards recognize outstanding contributions to the tourism industry.

Diana Bennett (left) receives a Hoosier Hospitality Award from Indiana Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Diana Bennett (left) receives a Hoosier Hospitality Award from Indiana Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Here is what the Indiana Office of Tourism Development wrote about Bennett in announcing her award: 

(Bennett) was instrumental in developing the first Gathering of Quilters event in Elkhart County. Bennett, a fiber artist and quilt expert from Millersburg, helped start this tradition more than 20 years ago. For all intents and purposes, she is Indiana’s “First Lady of Quilting.” Her nominator said she has become instrumental in assisting with the quilt authenticity of the world famous Quilt Gardens in Elkhart, she hosts a free quilt exhibit inside the Elkhart County Visitors Center and gives tirelessly of her time and talent as a member of the Quilt Garden Review Workgroup. There is no better ambassador for Indiana’s rich quilt heritage than ... Bennett.

Here is what the IOTD wrote about Richter:

In Amish Country, one friendly face that may greet you when you arrive is Richter. She welcomes bus groups at Down the Road Tours in Elkhart. Richter’s nominator said she does it all. She organizes itineraries, coordinates menus and does the marketing and promotions. Richter greets guests when they arrive in the morning and stays with them throughout the day and evening.  She makes sure every guest gets to go to every attraction on the itinerary. For Richter, time with the tour groups is time well spent, particularly if they come back again.

“We could not be happier for Diana and Karleen in being recognized with this honor. They truly love their hometowns and use their considerable skills to be excellent ambassadors for Elkhart County,” said Diana Lawson, executive director of the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Hoosier-Hospitality Karleen-Richter

Karleen Richter (left) receives a Hoosier Hospitality Award from Indiana Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb.

The Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau is the official tourism advertising/marketing and public/community relations organization for the Elkhart County hospitality industry. The ECCVB champions local businesses, programs and projects that serve residents, visitors and hospitality interests.

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For more information, contact Terry T. Mark, director of communications of the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau, at 574-262-8161 or