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Report from the Special Event 2002 Conference

January 16, 2002, 12:00 AM EST

News from Special Event magazine's annual trade show, the Special Event 2002, held last week in Phoenix:

The conference's week of meetings, events and parties began with a gathering of the International Special Events Society's (ISES) board of directors at the Hyatt Hotel, who voted to reduce the size of ISES' board of governors from 29 to 14 to make operations more efficient.

The International Special Event Education Foundation also hosted a well-attended cocktail reception to announce the establishment of a new scholarship named for past president Suzanne Bristow from Toronto.

The Special Event opened with a welcome party themed “Perpetual High School Reunion” held in Patriot's Square Park. Hosted by the National Association of Catering Executives, the event had terrific weather, a well-suited outdoor venue and offered truly tasty fare while keeping a smooth flow from the numerous sampling stations. The lobster bisque was a crowd favorite, and the World Classic Rockers band (with members from the Eagles, Steppenwolf and Wings) played classic rock hits.

The trade show floor was quieter than it's been in past years, with show attendance down by 40 percent overall, but hopes were up: Attendees surveyed at the Leadership Lunch event predicted an eight percent increase in business in 2002.

The Wedding Lunch (featuring ideas for wedding planners) was a standout event with the sumptuous interior design of dozens of guest tables all set inside a clear span tent with a sheared roof. The Special Event's event and sponsorship director Betsy Wiersma earned special kudos for initiating a volunteer program that gave many attendees a chance to work on several events and pay a reduced attendance fee to the activities for the week.

The opening night party--with its “A Night To Remember” theme--was staged in and around the Arizona Science Museum and Heritage Square Park. The outstanding touring Titanic exhibit was the centerpiece of the evening's design. The event garnered mixed reviews from attendees due to the crowding during the first hour inside the museum, but once it spilled into the tented park, you could hear guests exclaim “Wow!” when they saw a 25-foot-wide Airstar balloon hanging 80 feet over the guests, and later as they watched a high-flying aerial performer provide by T. Skorman Productions.

On Friday evening, the Special Event Industry Aid and Response for Care and Hope Foundation (Search) hosted its fifth annual Search Cabaret benefit inside the Hyatt ballroom, featuring performances from professionals and industry members. Andrea Michaels produced the patriotic-themed event, with the assistance of Bravo Entertainment's Debbie Meyers and T. Skorman Productions' Paul Creighton. The event raised a record $60,000, to the delight of chair Steve Kemble of Steve Kemble Event Design in Dallas.

The final night's gala held at the Convention Center offered up its gala awards show produced by Lauren Roth of Impact Productions in New Jersey. Awards were served up to toast the best work of 2001. Among the standout gala winners were best floral design by Mirage Productions and the lifetime achievement award presented to Steve Kemble.

A few New York area event pros were among the winners at the magazine's Gala awards. Enchanted Parties won in the best corporate/company picnic category, and Big Wave International won in the best use of lighting category.

Posted 01.16.02

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