Once a quarter, our staff selects a member of the Fort Smith community to be named a Hometown Hospitality Hero.
Fort Smith and our region benefit tremendously from conventions and events brought to our area. Attracting and retaining these happenings relies on the efforts of everyone in the hospitality industry. Often, Fort Smith attracts these conventions, events, and tournaments after individual local citizens decide they’d like their group’s event to be held in Fort Smith and take the initiative to bring a potential event to our Convention & Visitors Bureau’s attention. We work with these citizens to win the bid, attract attendees and help their idea come to life. The citizens that our staff feels have brought the most positive exposure and economic impact to our city we name Hometown Hospitality Heroes. We appreciate these people and all of those who help us bring more visitors to Fort Smith more than we can say!
Our newest hometown hospitality hero is Robbie Bryant. Robbie is the owner of Keg Media, a local design firm and he is the founder of Slamily Reunion, Arkansas’s largest custom car, truck and bike show.
Robbie founded Slamily Reunion in the summer of 2009. He had been assisting custom vehicle shows in other areas. He enjoyed assisting with these events. These experiences inspired him to create his own event. He wanted his custom vehicle show to be family friendly and filled with vehicles from all over the United States.
Slamily Reunion hosted 342 vehicles and 2,464 spectators in 2009. Last year in 2012 the show had grown to 456 vehicle entries and 4, 553 spectators. In 2012 the states of New Mexico, Missouri, Texas, Louisiana, Michigan, Tennessee, Arizona, California, Illinois, Kansas and Iowa were represented. Robbie was able to improve and build this event each year by traveling to other states, attending their events and promoting Slamily Reunion at the sites with flyers and other printed materials. Additionally, he has used social media, local radio/tv and they created a website, www.slamilyreunion.com all of which have help to make each event bigger and more diverse.
The Car Show has been so successful that Slamily Reunion has been nominated twice for the Show of the Year by Mini Truckin’ Magazine, a periodical with worldwide circulation.
Robbie has also worked to build relationships with many local Fort Smith sponsors. Included in this group are: J. Pauly Toyota Scion, Breeden Automotive Group, Smith Automotive Group, Arkansas Customs, a shop that sells off road accessories; California Hot Rod and Fab Shop, a Fort Smith business that builds custom vehicles and ESD Auto Salon, an automobile accessory shop.
This year Slamily Reunion will celebrate its Fifth Anniversary. The event was held at Columbus Acres for the first three years and last year it was held at Kay Rodgers Park where more space was available. This year the event will occupy the entire event center at Kay Rodgers Park.
Because of the continued increase in out of town participants and attendees, 2012 room nights that were generated are estimated at about 550. This results in about $82,500 direct economic impact and $247,500 total Economic impact created by this 2012 event. With the growth curve that this group consistently demonstrates, continued growth in economic impact is a given.
In reflecting on past events, Robbie tells us, “I do this to promote the custom automobile scene and bring a more family friendly approach to this type of event. If one parent who brings a child, hears their child say, ‘I want to build a custom vehicle in the future’, then the passion I have for these events is destined to continue. These events bring my two passions together, family and custom cars.”
Thanks Robbie Bryant, wife Keena, four sons and Brian & Jessica Fields, volunteer organizers, coordinator, judge and the entire volunteer team for continuing to bring Slamily Reunion to Fort Smith!