All photos courtesy Shreveport-Bossier CTB
Shreveport, La., always manages to add spice to the meetings that convene there, and the first Small Meetings Conference, in Shreveport Oct. 4-6, will be no different.
In addition to getting what amounts to a free education and invaluable connections with other meeting industry professionals (see story, p. 7), meeting planners who attend the first-ever conference will get to stay around another day as the guests of the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau and take tours that will open their eyes to the possibilities Shreveport offers in terms of off-site venues, spouse tours, group dining and entertainment.
Three one-day tours cover everything from alligators and art to movie stars and famous musicians.
Here’s a look at tours being offered. For more information about the familiarization tours of Shreveport and about the Small Market Meeting Conference, visit www.smallmarketmeetingsconference.com.
Feast Your Eyes on This
Spirit of the Red Cruise
Relax on a one-hour ride along the Red River and up Cross Bayou while the captain of the Spirit of the Red tour boat tells stories of early Shreveport and development of its industries.
Sci Port: Louisiana’s Science Center
Science rocks at the 92,000-square-foot science and entertainment center, which is packed with 300 science, math and space exhibits, an IMAX Dome Theatre and an open-access interactive laser Space Dome Planetarium. There’s also a great gift shop. Care for some liquid nitrogen ice cream?
Southern University Museum of Art
The university’s downtown location on Texas Street houses a collection of more than 300 African-American artifacts, art and other treasures on loan from two local citizens. There’s African art from Mali, Nigeria, Ivory Coast of West Africa, Cameroon and the Congo. Abeautifully appointed gallery is enhanced by a guided tour with all the details.
Lunch at Fertitta’s
This restaurant is the home of the “Muffy,” Shreveport’s favorite version of the muffaletta. It is served in a historic building by an owner who loves to tell his business’ story. Don’t miss the Italian mint iced tea.
Built in 1916, itis one of few homes in the historic Highland neighborhood open for tours. Visitors hear stories about the original owners as well as the protective ghost that occasionally makes an appearance.
Stageworks Film Studio
Get the scoop on who’s in town, what they are filming and where they are filming.
End the afternoon with a chocolate demonstration and tasting at the Chocolate Crocodile followed by free time to explore the shopping outlet center and walk along the riverfront promenade.
“Ghostly Tales, Beads, and Twanging Guitars”
Tour the historic downtown district and the Millennium Mural before you visit some early residents at Shreveport’s Oakland Cemetery.
Municipal Auditorium/Stage of Stars Museum
Best known for the “Louisiana Hayride” radio program that was broadcast by KWKH, this facility launched careers by the dozens from the late 1940s through the 1960s. The grand auditorium also has a museum“Stage of Stars” dedicated to those who performed here. See pieces owned by Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Dolly Parton and many others. Multiple Grammy Award-winner James Burton will make a guest appearance.
Holy Trinity Catholic Church
The oldest surviving church in Shreveport, this magnificent little building has been completely restored. Come inside to be dazzled by 85 stained-glass windows. The pipe organ still plays and the bells still ring for its active congregation.
Lunch at Biscotti’s
Partnered with a gift and decor store, Biscotti’s is where the locals eat lunch.
Spirit of the Red Cruise. A cruise along the mighty Red River puts you where Shreveport began, promising up-close views of the adjoining bayous, blue heron and white egrets.
Gemini Mardi Gras Museum
Costumes galore are on display from the royalty of the Krewe of Gemini. Meet some of the members, have some king cake, and assume the position of dignity as you try on the headpieces and collar pieces. Krewe members will dress in over-the-top costumes.
Spa and shopping
End the day with mini spas, shopping and Creole heritage at the Villagio.
“Gators, Roses, & Lagniappe” (a little something extra!)
Gators and Friends Exotic Animal Park
This alligator habitat allows visitors to walk out over the water enclosure where about 150 gators scramble for — gator chow? Dozens of other exotic animals are in comfortable enclosures.
Gardens of the American Rose Center
Thousands of roses are the stars in this 118-acre park, headquarters of the American Rose Society. Located in Greenwood, La., the center has more than 65 landscaped gardens.
Drive through downtown
Make stops at the Millennium Mural, Millennium-Ledbetter Film Studio Site, Riverfront Park and other film locations on a narrated drive through the historic district.
Lunch at Herby K’s
Known for the Shrimp Buster, this out-of-the-way place has quite a history.
Shopping at Enchanted Garden
This quaint gift shop is much larger than it appears with room after room of Louisiana gifts and specialty items.
Louisiana State Exhibit Museum
Built during the Great Depression as a WPA project, this enormous round building houses dioramas depicting the history and culture of Louisiana. As a satellite museum of the Smithsonian Institution, the exhibits are always changing. Neil Johnson’s photography will be on display and he will be on hand to meet everyone.
Barnwell Gardens and Arts Center
On the riverfront in downtown Shreveport, the center is one of the few combined art and garden centers in the region. The domed botanical garden conservatory is enhanced by the new Riverfront Park with its cascading waterfall, sculptured stage areas for festivals and towering steel roses signifying the importance of the rose to Shreveport.
For more information, visit www.smallmarketmeetingsconference.com.
Also: Conference offers planners a no-cost way to sharpen skills