• SOUTH DAKOTA - Black Hills 'Vacation Makeover' Winners Announced

      Five winners will get a free vacation, Kodak video camera

      CUSTER, S.D. - The Kalisch Family of Lonsdale, MN, told of their dream trip to Nashville. Their daughter, Hannah Kalisch, wrote separately of her trip to swampy and soulful New Orleans. Mary Nolin of Lincoln, Neb., wrote about her 1995 Black Hills visit that began as a vacation and ended as a wedding at Deadwood's Franklin Hotel. Lauri Calder of O'Fallon, Mo., has three young boys and really NEEDS a family vacation.

      Their stories garnered the most votes in the Black Hills tourism industry's "Vacation Makeover: Destination Mount Rushmore" online contest. All four will win an expense-paid vacation in the Black Hills, worth up to $4,000, and a Kodak Zx1 Pocket Video Camera to record their South Dakota adventure.

      In addition, Jon McKenzie of Peru, Ind., chosen in a sweepstakes drawing among the people who cast online votes, also won a trip to the Black Hills and a Kodak video camera.

      The nationwide contest began in early April. Visitors to the www.blackhills.travel website were asked to share their favorite vacation stories. More than 200 people submitted stories with photos and video during the contest. Over the two months of the contest, online voters then cast ballots for their favorite contestants.

      The contest’s goal is to bring out the inner travel writer in everyone, and show the lucky winners that a trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota is more memorable than their most memorable past vacation.

      “I know that’s a big order to fill, but we’re confident that these folks will have a great time in the Black Hills, and they’ll share that experience when they get back home,” said Brian Boyer, chairman of the Black Hills Digital Strategies Group, one of the contest sponsors.

      The Black Hills, a million-acre playground in western South Dakota, is home to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Crazy Horse Memorial, Badlands National Park, Custer State Park and a number of other parks and attractions. It’s a magnet for mountain bikers, hikers, kayakers, family vacationers, RV campers and sight-seers.

      Other sponsors were the South Dakota Office of Tourism and Eastman Kodak Co. The winners will be able to share that experience with the world. They will be asked to shoot video with the Kodak Zx1 pocket camera, edit the footage and post the video of their trip on www.blackhills.travel. The footage might also appear on the Kodak Jumbotron in New York City’s Times Square.

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