SEP 2013

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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INSIDER'S ALABAMA ARKANSAS FLORIDA GEORGIA KENTUCKY LOUISIANA G U I D E By Taylor Peyton Strunk West Texas MISSISSIPPI West Texasʼ laid-back, cowboy style brings a refreshing dimension to meetings held there. But donʼt let the size of the smaller cities in West Texas fool you. These eight destinations mentioned in this article keep it big, and keep it real, for meetings, conventions and groups looking for a true Texas experience. ■ NORTH CAROLINA OKLAHOMA SOUTH CAROLINA TENNESSEE TEXAS VIRGINIA WEST VIRGINIA with a Texas-sized serving of hospitality," said Nanci Liles, executive director of the Abilene CVB. Hosting 250 meetings each year, Liles said the city encourages meeting planners to explore new options that cultivate creativity. To that effect, Abilene recently introduced a program, "BEEF (Be Eventful, Experiential and Fun) Up Your Meeting," where meeting planners are entered into a quarterly drawing for a Perini Ranch tenderloin, when they plan an event at an area attraction or venue. Among its many attractions, Abilene is now home to the world's largest weather vane, The Buffalo Herd in the Sky, which can be seen at Frontier Texas!, the city's premier, state-of-the-art museum and meeting facility. ■ Abilene CVB Abilene 1 "Abilene is big on culture and affordability, and both come The Grace Mus eum Amarillo 2 "A visit to Amarillo is stepping into the real Texas," said Eric Miller, director of communications & digital assets of the Amarillo Convention and Visitor Council. In Amarillo, "Western heritage is very strong, from cowboys and cattle to big skies and wide open spaces." Venues include the Amarillo Civic Center Complex, which offers 410,000 square feet of meeting space in two exhibit halls, a banquet facility, the Grand Plaza, the nearly 5,000-seat Cal Farley Coliseum, the 2,400-seat Civic Auditorium and the 1,300-seat Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts. Hosting sporting events, large conventions and trade shows, and smaller meetings and civic functions, "Itʼs a great place to meet, play and celebrate," Miller said. Amarillo boasts almost 6,000 hotel rooms and features true West Texas attractions, including the Palo Duro Canyon, the nationʼs second largest canyon with a State Park of nearly 30,000 acres dedicated to outdoor activity; the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum; the RV Museum at Jack Sisemoreʼs Traveland, one of two such museums in the country; TEXAS, the outdoor musical drama performed each summer in Palo Duro Canyon State Park; Big Texan Steak Ranch, which now offers hand-crafted beer in the Big Texan Brewery; the Kwahadi Museum and Indian Dancers; and the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the stateʼs largest history museum, located 15 miles south of Amarillo in the town of Canyon. ■ Amarillo CVB 3 Big Spring Ride a horse in Amarillo or just have your group take a photo in from of one of the dozens of horse statues around town. 48 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ SEPTEMBER 2013 Centrally located in West Texas, Big Spring offers more than 900 hotel rooms, two museums, and a variety of shopping and dining options, said Debbie Wegman, Big Spring CVB coordinator. Big Spring's most recently opened hotel and conference venue is the historic Hotel Settles. Built in 1930 and recently renovated, "It's a beautiful facility with 65 rooms, an on-site restaurant and bar, as well as meeting spaces," Wegman said. ■ w w w. c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m

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