ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.
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w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 19 unique venues run the gamut in these markets and can provide one-of-a-kind events. In Houma, three plantations welcome meet- ings and events. The Southdown Plantation and Museum, an antebellum beauty built in 1859, with porches on all sides and a large, covered pavilion, is perfect for a summer picnic. Ardoyne P lantation is the largest example of rural Victo- rian Gothic architecture in the South with ornate details. Twelve Oaks Plantation is a grand estate nestled among large oak trees in the heart of Cajun Country. The home sits on a 750-acre working sugar cane plantation and overlooks the ever-flowing Big Bayou Black. Howard County, Md., is home to the B&O Railroad Museum, which offers the oldest, most historic and comprehensive American railroad collection in the U.S. and can accommodate groups of 2,800 indoors and 5,000 outdoors. Its 1884 Baldwin Roundhouse offers a breathtaking sky-high ceiling and historical ambience for up to 2,800. At Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, Ark., groups can not only enjoy Northwest Arkansas Naturals baseball games but also use the Sam's Club Community Room for a kick-off event. Oversize luxury suites overlooking the baseball field, and the stadium concourse, indoor batting cages and party areas are also suited for groups. Lowe Mill ARTS and Entertainment in Huntsville is one of America's largest independ- ent centers for the arts, with working artists, restaurants and live-performance venues in what was once a historic textile mill. For groups, the first-floor connector room, approximately 4,000 square feet, has industrial appeal while the Rail- road Room offers an outdoor event venue with power and water, and easy access to parking. The Rutherford County (Tenn.) CVB offers historic sites that planners can incorporate into their meetings, said Wendy Bryant, director of communications. "Past attendees have enjoyed an elegant dinner in Maney Hall at the historic Oaklands Mansion, or dinner and swing dancing at the Carriage Lane Inn," she said. In Macon, Ga., the Museum of Arts and Sci- ences offers not only exhibits, galleries and classrooms, but also a planetarium and Satellite Conference Room that allows attendees a sneak peek into space and exploration. The Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa offers many activities for teambuilding, des- tination immersion or family plans, according to Richard Ross, vice president of sales and mar- keting. "With expansive beach and deck space, the Hilton can plan everything from waterside fireworks to beach volleyball tournaments for groups," he said. "You can add a food-and-bev- erage spin with a sunrise brunch or sunset bon- f ire with s'mores." With three centuries of service, Pinehurst Re- sort in Pinehurst, N.C., offers groups a variety of meeting spaces and amenities. The resort fea- tures 55,000 square feet of indoor space and more than 2,000 acres outdoors. A popular golf- ing destination with nine courses, it's a popular option for groups with golf enthusiasts. n Small Markets For Big Meetings Small Market FUN! The South is also home to its own set of adventures and fun events to explore, especially in smaller markets. Here are a few hidden gems for groups to explore and take advantage of: ‰ Bootfest honors Victoria, Texas's rich ranching heritage and all things boots each year. Enjoy free live music on two stages featuring Texas Coun- try and Tejano music as well as rock and roll, blues and more. Boot mak- ers display their craft and offer custom-made boots for attendees. ‰ Amarillo is home to Palo Duro Canyon State Park, home of "The Grand Canyon of Texas." The park opened in 1934 and occupies nearly 30,000 acres of the scenic, northernmost portion of the Palo Duro Canyon. You'll enjoy rugged beauty and outdoor adventures. ‰ Explore Arkansas's wine country just outside Fort Smith in the town of Altus. Visitors can partake in free tastings and tours at vineyards such as Chateau Aux Arc, Mount Bethel Winery, Post Familie Vineyards and Wiederkehr Wine Cellars. ‰ Grandview Nature Preserve in Hampton, Va., covers more than 475 acres of salt marsh, tidal creeks and Chesapeake Bay beachfront. Visitors can beach- comb, view a variety of birds and explore wetlands. Groups can also canoe and hike through Buckroe Beach Park. ‰ Fire and Feast MBN Sanctioned BBQ Competition in Yazoo City, Miss., brings together barbecue teams from across the United States to create delicious barbecue of all kinds. More than $20,000 is given away in prizes in numerous categories from Hot Wings to Sauce. ‰ In the Houma area, according to Pierce, guests can have adventures all year long by cruising through the scenic bayous on a swamp tour or holding alligators at the Greenwood Gator Farm. n J U L Y 2 0 1 5 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ The Lumberyard in Huntsville