Fast Facts about Fayetteville, Arkansas
Location: Northwest Arkansas
Access: Interstate 49, about 60 miles north of Fort Smith; Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport
Major Meeting Spaces: Fayetteville Town Center, Mount Sequoyah Retreat and Conference Center, Chancellor Hotel/Graduate Fayetteville
Hotel Rooms: 2,066
Off-Site Venues: University of Arkansas, Walton Arts Center, TheatreSquared, Clinton House Museum
People may have certain expectations or preconceived notions about a smallish city in northwestern Arkansas, but when they actually arrive in Fayetteville, “people are completely blown away,” said Hazel Hernandez, vice president of sales and marketing for Experience Fayetteville.
They find a vibrant college town that’s home to the University of Arkansas. They find a nature-lovers’ haven nestled in the Ozark Mountains. They find an arts and culture scene that rivals that of major metropolitan destinations.
Fayetteville is Arkansas’ third-largest city, home to about 86,000 residents and to university students who are central to the city’s character.
“You have 5,000 new people every year who are not only learning about themselves but also learning about Fayetteville,” Hernandez said. “There’s always new energy.”
Groups can explore the campus or meet there. The Arkansas Union has over 20 different meeting rooms and spaces, including the Verizon Ballroom and the 247-capacity Union Theatre. Guests can attend up to 300 concerts per year at the university’s Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall, watch performances at the 585-seat Jim and Joyce Faulkner Performing Arts Center and explore fine art at various galleries.
But Fayetteville’s culture extends beyond campus. The Walton Arts Center brings in artists and entertainers from all over the world and features a Broadway series with shows like “The Book of Mormon,” “School of Rock” and “Les Misérables.” TheatreSquared, the city’s professional theater company, founded in 2005, just cut the ribbon on a new multimillion-dollar live performance theater in downtown. The building’s architecture exposes the artistic spaces rather than hiding them; the studio, rehearsal space and main stage are all visible from the street.
Residents and visitors alike take advantage of the city’s nearby nature offerings. The 37-mile Razorback Greenway trail connects Fayetteville to its northern neighbors, and Experience Fayetteville can help arrange group biking outings using the city’s bike-sharing program. The Arkansas and Missouri Railroad is hugely popular in the fall, when an autumnal onslaught slides past the windows of antique passenger cars as the train travels through mountains and valleys.
For planners who want to bring the great outdoors into their meetings, Mount Sequoyah Center is a full-service, historic mountaintop retreat just five minutes from downtown that can accommodate events for up to 400 people.
Fayetteville Town Center is just off the historic downtown square, and there, attendees will find restaurants, nightlife, festivals, a farmers market and Fayetteville’s largest hotel, The Chancellor, which is undergoing its own big changes. The town center features the 13,570-square-foot Ozark Ballroom, which can be split into three spaces, and two smaller meeting rooms that can seat 50 to 70 at rounds. The center just completed a renovation that added a hospitality suite and refreshed the entire space.
Get Ready to Graduate
The Chancellor Hotel on the historic downtown square will become the Graduate Fayetteville this fall, joining the collection of boutique hotels located in college towns that pay homage to the local university. Decor throughout the hotel will be a tasteful ode to the University of Arkansas and all things Razorbacks, including in the 234 guest rooms, the common areas and the 14,000 square feet of meeting space. The 4,800-square-foot Eureka Springs Ballroom can become four 1,200-square-foot event spaces, and the hotel’s five other event rooms work well for smaller meetings or breakout sessions.
Performing as Venues
The Walton Arts Center acts as one of Fayetteville’s premier event spaces. The Walker Atrium is a glass-walled space where seated meals for 300 or receptions for 600 are held beneath the signature chandelier. Baum Walker Hall can accommodate up to 1,200 people, and the Starr Theater can seat 250 for banquets; both are highly configurable spaces. Two smaller rooms can each host meetings of 50 or 75, and the center’s private brick courtyard with built-in amphitheater is great for outdoor events. TheatreSquared can also be booked for private events and will offer group discounts for shows.
Experience Fayetteville launched the Fayetteville Ale Trail in August 2013 to give residents and visitors a chance to sample northwest Arkansas’ craft brewery — and one cidery — scene. The trail features 15 stops in Fayetteville and in neighboring cities. In Fayetteville, West Mountain Brewing Company sits on the downtown square, and Apple Blossom Brewing Company is a few miles north, near Lake Fayetteville. Two University of Arkansas graduates opened Columbus House Brewery just off the bike trail near campus. The trail offers a passport for people to collect stamps from each stop, but Experience Fayetteville can arrange private shuttles to take attendees to a couple breweries during an evening outing.