Follettes receive Tip of the Spear Award

March 23, 2019

SPEARFISH — Visit Spearfish, the destination marketing organization for the city of Spearfish, celebrated its 10th anniversary Wednesday.

During the event, two Spearfish residents were honored with the organization’s Tip of the Spear Award.

Visit Spearfish started with humble beginnings. Mistie Caldwell, its executive director, was its lone employee, and the organization had a one-room office in the city’s engineering department as its base of operations.

In 2009, the bulk of the calls Caldwell fielded were about the Black Hills Passion Play, which closed the year before.

“We were all wondering what the next step was for Spearfish,” Caldwell told the audience at Tuesday’s celebration.

“In 2011, we decided to dive head first into outdoor adventure marketing,” Caldwell added.

That plan was met with some resistance, she said.

“But now we can see that Spearfish, its people, and its businesses, embrace this culture,” she added.

That culture, she said, has, “Advanced the community in its livability.”

“Everyone starts as a visitor. Many come back. May move here. Many start businesses here. And while we still receive the occasional call about the Passion Play, the bulk of call inquiries have to do with that outdoor industry,” Caldwell said.

And two people who were instrumental in growing one aspect of the local outdoor industry, were recognized at the event.

“Each year Visit Spearfish recognizes outstanding individuals and businesses for their contributions to Spearfish and the tourism industry with the Tip of the Spear Award,” said Greg Krier, president of the Visit Spearfish Board of Directors. “It is because of them that Spearfish continues to grow as a visitor destination.”

Everett and Joann Follette found in the 1970s that their hobby of cross country skiing, suited the area well and turned their passion into a business.

They opened Ski Cross Country selling ski and snowshoe equipment and served the area for decades before they retired and closed the shop.

“They are credited with starting the trail system at Big Hill that eventually was incorporated into the Forest Service trail system,” Krier said.

“This has been one of the real joys of our life — the development of cross country skiing,” Everett said. “… Thank you for this honor.”

Krier closed out the evening honoring Caldwell.

“We recognize your tenacity, determination, and leadership. Without you, Visit Spearfish wouldn’t be what it is today,” he said.

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