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Fall Preview: What Washington Event Pros Are Working on This Season

With the unofficial end of summer now behind us (that would be Labor Day), event professionals are looking to the fall—a traditionally busy time—to see how the economic recovery will help the industry rebound from what has so far been a pretty slow year. We asked a group of local planners and vendors what they have in the works for the coming months. Here are some highlights.

“We're looking forward to an extraordinary fall. Highlights for us include the Pittsburgh G20 Summit, scheduled at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in late September. World leaders from more than 30 countries will convene to discuss global challenges with more than 3,000 journalists scheduled to cover the event. We and our partner Showcall will provide extensive general contracting, audiovisual, decor, and production services. A variety of events focused on the environment also figure prominently in our schedule this fall, including the Solar Decathlon, to take place in mid-October on the National Mall. The event joins 20 college and university teams in a competition to design, build, and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered house. Our calendar includes a diverse customer base, ranging from the 13th annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner to the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference. Finally, with several exhibit pavilions at the Association of the U.S. Army show held annually at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, expos for the Marine Corps Marathon and Army Ten-Miler, and general contracting services for Modern Day Marine, we are geared up and ready for an exciting fall.”
—Lana Ostrander, director of marketing and public relations, Hargrove Inc.

“We are really busy this fall, as we have two major fund-raising events lined up. First is the Fight for Children Golf Challenge, which is being presented by Geico on October 5 at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. The event is also incorporating a day for non-golfers this year with spa services by Red Door spas and a fashion show provided by Saks Fifth Avenue. The Green Magazine is producing the golf tournament portion of the event for us. We expect 120 golfers and 50 non-golfers. Brig Owens from the Washington Redskins, Chris Tucker, and Gloria Reuben are a few of the celebrities planning on attending. And then we also have Fight Night, our biggest fund-raiser, which is on November 5 this year at the Hilton Washington. We have silent and live auctions that will include a customized motorcycle, one-of-a-kind trip experiences, and more. Sugar Ray Leonard is coming this year, along with boxing legends Smokin' Joe Frazier, James “Buster” Douglas, Ken Norton, Aaron Pryor, and Gerry Cooney. In a few weeks we're meeting with Atmosphere, Hargrove, Maryland Sound and others to figure out how we're going to make the 20th year even bigger and better. Last year we had 1,800 guests and we expect to see the same number this year.”
Kristen Fagley, marketing and event manager, Fight for Children

“We have an amazing (and busy) fall lineup. On September 30 we are doing our annual Style Setters event honoring the 20 best-dressed men and women of D.C. I am planning a really fun farewell to summer party at the rooftop pool at the Liaison Capitol Hill hotel. Food will be by Art & Soul, we'll have a DJit is shaping up to be a really fun bash! On October 9 we will totally change gears and host an elegant, sophisticated luncheon for the 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington at the Astor Ballroom at the St. Regis Hotel. Goldman Sachs is our presenting sponsor, Lexus is our automotive sponsor, and we already have an incredible list of confirmed attendees from government, business, the nonprofit world and more. Next year will also be fantastic. We are bringing back our luxury wedding showcase event, 'Unveiled,' at the end of January, and we also have our Top Doctors reception returning in March. That is something we do every two years and celebrates our biggest-selling issue and the leading physicians throughout the region.”
Jennifer Haber, director of marketing and special events, Washingtonian

“We are pleased to report that the annual events we traditionally work on in the fall are all taking place this year. Among them are the 21st annual PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Gala on September 21, which will see all the vendors who have worked on this event for years returning to their tasks. Another event that is returning after two years in Los Angeles is the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Jazz Competition Finals and the Blue Note Records 70th anniversary gala, which will take place in the Eisenhower Theater at the Kennedy Center on October 11. The Harman Center for the Arts annual gala is also taking place this fall on October 25 with all of the vendors who have worked on the event in the past. We worked with Atmosphere, Design Cuisine, Suzanne Codi Floral Design, Hargrove, Maryland Sound, and Unipark to give the Harman Center partial in-kind contributions to make it possible for them to keep the dinner following the performance at the National Building Museum, which is the right venue for this event. Basically, while the economy is being tough on nonprofits it is therefore hard on vendors. We have a long relationship with many vendors, and they all seem to be keeping busy while tightening their belts and addressing the new realities of the current economy.”
—Carolyn Peachey, president, Campbell, Peachey & Associates

“This fall, we are again launching the One Campus Challenge, a nationwide competition among college students to be the most creative and effective advocates against extreme poverty. More than 1,400 campuses have signed up to participate across the country. Also happening this this fall is our faith outreach effort, One Sabbath, launches. The program rallies individuals and congregations of all faiths to raise awareness and advocate on behalf of people living in extreme poverty and struggling against preventable diseases. We'll also be providing tools for churches and houses of worship to respond through advocacy to such global challenges as AIDS, malaria, lack of clean water, and children out of school. Finally, we will be involved as part of the North American leg of the U2 360° world tour. One will use its presence and profile throughout the tour to raise awareness and let people know about the critical progress being made against extreme poverty and preventable disease in Africa, as well as sign up new members.”
—Maura Daley, events and trips manager, global anti-poverty organization One

“This fall we are focusing on locally sourced ingredients and supporting the local farming community. We are working on how to provide our customers with delicious food in a way that adheres to good green practices. For example, pairing local farmers and their crops with specific large events (like 100 pounds of Brandywine tomatoes for a September wedding). We are also designing a series of '150 mile' menus from these farms. By working directly with farmers, we are able to serve fantastic, locally grown food to our clients, offer signature dishes that are unique because of the sourcing, and support the local farming community. We're hosting an event this month to kick off our local food project. The concept of the event, in addition to serving local food, is that it is a farm-market tasting, or an ingredient-based tasting event. This means using a single ingredient to create four or more different dishes, like beef or tomatoes or a tasting of six types of chocolate, etc. We can replicate this style of event, a farm tasting menu, for future customers when the product is available in season. June through November are the best months in this area to create the freshest menus. Lastly, we're also designing menus that have 'bang for the buck' this fall by using affordable ingredients in interesting ways. For example, beef short ribs braised in Virginia cabernet sauvignon with aromatics served over local fingerling potatoes.”
Eric Michael, owner, Occasions Caterers

“We have two great events coming up in the fourth quarter and are very excited for the coming fall. First is the Wine Opener on October 3. This event offers guests a gourmet California-themed meal paired with fine wines and a food and wine educator to guide them through the evening. Next up is the highlight of our year, the Breath of Life Gala, a black-tie fund-raiser that garners more than 700 distinguished Washington business professionals. This is the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s number one event in the country and the top net charity event in the Washington D.C. area, raising over $3 million in 2008. The 2009 gala will look to retain that distinction on November 14.”
—Jodi Lenet, senior special events director, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Metropolitan Washington D.C. Chapter

“After this weekend, everyone will be back in town and set to make the National Air and Space Museum’s activities this fall as successful as ever. The communications and special events offices are busy planning press previews and openings for the Public Observatory—our central activity to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy and the 400th anniversary of the telescope—and our new exhibition 'Moving Beyond Earth' about the future of human space flight. Our education division is working in hyper mode, preparing activities for 'Air & Scare,' our annual Halloween event at the Udvar-Hazy Center, as well as Family Days and Teachers Nights, our curators are busy preparing lectures and public programs to complement the new exhibits. Essentially, the whole museum is buzzing with activity after only a very brief break from our frenzied 40th Apollo 11 anniversary events in July.”
—Isabel Lara, media relations, National Air and Space Museum


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