Leon County Tourism Development “Tommy” Awards honor Proof Brewing Co. and Opening Nights’ Christopher Heacox

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Sept. 22, 2016) – A local brewery and the man behind Opening Nights Performing Arts were honored tonight with the Thomas A. Waits Distinguished Leadership Awards, recognizing an organization and an individual who made a significant impact on the Leon County tourism industry.

Proof Brewing Co. and Christopher Heacox, director of Opening Nights Performing Arts, received the awards at the annual Marketing Rollout hosted by the Leon County Division of Tourism Development at the new Champions Club at Florida State University’s Doak Campbell Stadium.

Founded in 2007, PBC helped establish the local brew scene. It expanded in 2010, opening a brewery and taproom in Railroad Square Art Park. The new facility features a state-of-the-art, 20-barrel brew house, fully automated canning line, tasting room and outdoor beer garden. The tasting room offers views of the entire brewing operation, which quickly became popular with residents and visitors.

PBC helped launch the Florida Tap Invitational – a local festival featuring more than 100 of the newest and rarest beers from breweries around the state – which expanded to a two-day festival this year.

Heacox, who recently celebrated his fifth anniversary with Opening Nights Performing Arts, continues showcasing Tallahassee as a cultural tourism destination. Since joining the organization, he focused on securing acclaimed artists for the series, including Tony Bennett and Patti LaBelle last year. Under his leadership, ticket sales have expanded to 26 states, 132 Florida cities and more than 2,000 patrons living outside of the area.

The awards have been presented annually since 2002. In 2003, the award was officially named “The Thomas A. Waits Distinguished Leadership Award” to honor this prominent resident and former executive director of the Florida Hotel & Motel Association. Waits dedicated his career to economic development through tourism in Florida.

In 2010, the award expanded to recognize one individual and one organization that made a significant impact on tourism in Tallahassee-Leon County and reflected the ideals and leadership of tourism excellence.

Past award winners include:



2015 – Ricky Bell, director of Student Activities for Leon County Schools
2014 – Bo Schmitz, General Manager of Four Points By Sheraton Tallahassee Downtown
2013 – Lee Daniel, Executive Director of Leon County Division of Tourism Development
2012 – Dr. Mark Bonn, Professor and Director of Distance Learning Programs at Florida State
            University’s Dedman School of Hospitality
2011 – Marc Bauer, General Manager of Hotel Duval
2010 – Russell Daws, Executive Director of Tallahassee Museum
2009 – Sharon Ligget, President of Tallahassee Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
2008 – Bill Hagen, Chair of the Tallahassee Sports Council
2007 – Donna Ross, President/CEO of Florida Attractions Association
2006 – Patricia Grosvenor, Director of Sales at Park Plaza Hotel
2005 – Mickey Brady, General Manager of Cabot Lodge North Monroe
2004 – Chucha Barber, Executive Director of Brogan Museum of Art & Science
2003 – Pace Allen, General Manager of Collegiate Village Inn
2002 – Althemese Barnes, Executive Director of Riley House Museum


2015 – Council on Culture and Arts
2014 – Tallahassee Museum
2013 –Challenger Learning Center
2012 – Hotel Duval
2011 – Augustus B. Turnbull III Florida State Conference Center
2010 – Mary Brogan Museum of Art & Science



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Leon County Division of Tourism (Visit Tallahassee)

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