BETHEL – A Bethel couple has been honored with the Governor’s Conference on Tourism Award for Commitment to Innovation in Tourism.

Rocky and Lisa Freda, owners of Sun Valley Sports and Guide Service on Sunday River Road off Route 26, received the recognition on Tuesday during a ceremony at the conference in the Bangor Civic Center.

“This year’s award winners are shining examples for Maine’s tourism industry,” Pat Eltman, director of the Maine Office of Tourism, stated in a Thursday report. “The Fredas are thinking creatively to expose visitors to the nature-based tourism opportunities in western Maine.”

At the conference, Eltman and John Richardson, commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, also presented the Fredas with a slate rendering of the state of Maine. The plaque was handcrafted in Maine using Monson slate.

“That was awesome,” Lisa Freda said of the conference and award. “It’s good to be appreciated.”

Lisa Freda said Friday evening by phone in Bethel that a lot of the innovations come from her husband, who has worked to protect and promote the Androscoggin River and Western Maine.

Rocky Freda has also served as past president of the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce and as a town planner. He is president of the Mollyockett Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

Rocky Freda wasn’t available for comment on Friday, because he was helping another man free a stuck snowmobile groomer from a trail through a notch in Newry.

Lisa Freda, a Turner native, and her husband, who came to Maine from upstate Vermont, have operated their business at 129 Sunday River Road since 1995. Both are master Maine guides.

Sun Valley Sports is a four-season outdoor recreation outfitter specializing in guided fly fishing trips on the Androscoggin and Magalloway rivers, guided snowmobile trips, moose and wildlife watching tours, and custom family vacations.

The Fredas offer unique recreation options like a wine-and-cheese float trip, a snowmobile ride-and-dine package, and spring waterfall tours. Lisa Freda said they also took their all-terrain vehicles out and gained permission from landowners in the area to conduct half-day rides with clients.

“We’re really trying to promote the area. If everybody prospers, then we prosper,” she said.

Each year the Governor’s Conference on Tourism is an opportunity for Maine’s tourism industry to come together for professional development and to recognize those whose service and dedication is commendable.

A total of five awards were presented during the conference, covering the categories of Commitment to Tourism Growth, Commitment to Employees, Commitment to Innovation in Tourism, Commitment to Service Excellence and the Governor’s Award for Tourism Excellence.

The awards, which are sponsored by the Maine Office of Tourism and the Maine Tourism Commission, are presented to those whose service and dedication have enhanced the experience for visitors to Maine.

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