SEP 2018

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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Page 33 of 67

²ConventionSouth ² S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 8 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 34 • DiamondJacks Casino & Resort (Bossier City): 22,000 square feet of meeting space; 576 guest rooms Monroe/West Monroe Monroe and adjacent West Monroe in northeast- ern Louisiana will likely surprise meeting plan- ners not familiar with the smallish cities. There is more refined culture and entertainment here than many might expect. There is the Monroe Symphony Orchestra; Louisiana Delta Ballet; Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo, Northeast Louisiana Delta African American Heritage Museum, Chenault Aviation & Military Museum of Louisiana, Beidenharn Museum & Gardens, historic home and grounds of the nation's first Coca-Cola bottler; live performance venues in- cluding Strauss Theatre Center and the smaller Much Ado About Nothing Dinner Theatre; and a goodly number of art galleries, including the Masur Museum of Art, which is inside a 1920s-style Tudor building. It, along with the striking Cooley House, a representation of the Prairie School of Architecture, are on the Na- tional Register of Historic Places. More than 100 restaurants, most locally owned, along with Landry Vineyards offer suste- nance for enjoying these Monroe/West Monroe attractions. This area's natural assets are as rich as its cul- tural ones. Right in Monroe is the Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge featuring a 1,600- acre lake and a restored 1880s Acadian House with exhibits, as well as the Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge. West Monroe has the 3,000-acre Chenier Lake Park and not far away from the cities lie the D'Arbonne National Wildlife Refuge and the Russell-Sage Wildlife Management Area. Monroe/West Monroe Meeting Spaces • Monroe Convention Center: 22,000 square feet of meeting space; 14,000-square-foot Conference Hall; 21 meeting rooms total; 15 breakout rooms; connected to Monroe Civic Center Complex • Monroe Civic Center Complex: 46,000 square feet of exhibit space on floor; seating for 7,600 • Monroe Civic Center Theater: 73' x 46' stage; 6 dressing rooms • West Monroe Convention Center: 13,000 square feet of meeting space; 3 conference halls; 3 breakout rooms • Rodeway Inn & Suites and Conference Center: 21,000 square feet of exhibit and meeting space; 12 meeting rooms; large dome area; 130 guest rooms • Bayou Pointe Event Center: 37,000-square- foot facility on University of Louisiana Monroe campus; 750-capacity ballroom plus patio and stage • University of Louisiana Monroe Student Union Building: 400-capacity ballroom • Ike Hamilton Expo Center: 2,900-seat facil- ity; 7 acres enclosed Natchitoches Natchitoches (pronounced "Nack-a-tish") is the original French colony and Louisiana's oldest city. Located off I-49 in northwestern Louisiana, Natchitoches brims with history and culture. "Natchitoches is your new meeting destination because it's full of that quaint Southern charm L O U I S I A N A "With new shops, restaurants and attrac- tions opening on a regular basis, there's more to do than ever before in Shreve- port-Bossier," said David Bradley, vice president of sales and services for the Shreveport-Bossier Convention & Tourist Bureau. And the list of things to do got even longer and more fun late last year. Shreveport Aquarium opened November 2017, offering visitors a chance to expe- rience tropical lagoons, brightly colored coral reefs, shipwrecks and dark ocean caves. A freshwater domed gallery offering great "underwater" close-up observation is a highlight. The facility's touch tanks provide the opportunity to reach out and touch starfish, jellyfish, sting rays and other sea creatures. Louisiana seafood, sandwiches and other fare are available at SALT. Another late-2017 opening was Ga- tor Raceway at Gators & Friends Exotic Animal Petting Zoo and Adventure Park. Intrepid visitors can drive high-speed go- karts on a twisting track at the raceway. The petting zoo provides up-close contact with many types of exotic animals, includ- ing camels and capybaras, and there's a zipline over an alligator swamp for addi- tional excitement. Q B R E A K O U T S P O T L I G H T : Shreveport/Bossier Contact: Shreveport Convention Center

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