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Small-town charm in Oklahoma

Courtesy Enid CVB


For a city just shy of 50,000 residents, Enid has some big-city meeting facilities.

City officials launched the Renaissance Project a few years ago to renovate Enid’s historic Convention Hall and build a downtown event center, which in turn attracted a new hotel that will be attached to the complex.

“We have visionary city leaders and a city manager who saw a need to invest in buildings and facilities,” said Marcy Jarrett, director of Visit Enid. “We’re in the middle of an oil and gas boom, and the city is very wisely investing those dollars.”

The 74,000-square-foot Enid Event Center opened June 12. The $18 million arena, managed by Global Spectrum, can seat 3,200 for sporting events or 3,800 for concerts, or the seats can be retracted to open up 33,000 square feet of floor space for expos and trade shows, said Keller Taylor, general manager of the event center and Convention Hall. The center has state-of-the-art audiovisual systems, as well as wireless Internet access, digital signage and video boards.

“Then, 100 feet away, you’re in the next building [Convention Hall]” with meeting and conference space, Taylor said.

The city spent $7.5 million to renovate and restore the 53,000-square-foot Convention Hall downtown, which reopened in November. Convention Hall was built in 1921 in the Art Deco style popular during the region’s oil-boom era and has always served as Enid’s community center and meeting facility. Several U.S. presidents spoke there, and John Phillip Sousa once played there, according to Jarrett. The renovation kept or restored the building’s period details, and large windows flood its spaces with light and views of downtown.

Convention Hall offers “tremendous flexibility,” said Taylor,  with its 11,500-square-foot grand ballroom, a 3,000-square-foot junior ballroom and about 6,000 square feet of meeting space. A state-of-the-art kitchen serves the hall and the event center.

Kansas-based LodgeWell broke ground in June on a Hilton Garden Inn that will be attached to the event center by a walkway. Plans call for 131 guest rooms, a restaurant and a small boardroom, Jarrett said, and the hotel should open in about a year. Another component of the project is a multistory parking garage that will serve the hotel, the event center, Convention Hall and the downtown area.

“What this will do is continue to put Enid on the map with … people who might not have looked at Enid before as a meeting location,” Taylor said. “It opens up new markets for us.”

The Oklahoma Museums Association will meet in Enid in September because of Convention Hall, and the P.E.O. Sisterhood’s state chapter is having its convention in Enid in May 2014. The American Kitefliers Association, which met in Enid last fall, might return in 2015.



Forty miles east of Enid, the city of Perry sits off Interstate 35 nearly halfway between Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kan., which is “a huge plus,” said Brett Powers, president and CEO of the Perry Chamber of Commerce. Perry may have a population of only 5,200, but “we have all of the perks of a large community,” he said.

Perry was established after the Oklahoma land run of 1893, and its historic downtown is anchored by a central square surrounded by late-19th- and early-20th-century buildings.

A new community center, the 6,500-square-foot Event Center at Perry, is being built downtown. Its opening has been delayed, but when it does open, it will seat about 300 in meeting space with two projection screens that retract from the ceiling.

Perry is also the world headquarters and manufacturing center of Charles Machine Works, the company that makes Ditch Witch trenchers. The Ditch Witch Heritage Center and Museum is in the building that housed the original machine shop, which has been restored, and museum exhibits showcase the history of the Ditch Witch manufacturer. The center has a conference room for up to 50 people and a theater that holds just shy of 200, Powers said.