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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Alie Bahsoon

The Fort Smith, Arkansas region benefits tremendously from conventions and events that are brought to our area. Attracting and retaining this type of business relies heavily on the efforts of both the community and the growing tourism and hospitality industry. It is for this reason that we, at the Fort Smith Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, are happy to extend our heartfelt gratitude and thanks to a second first-quarter Hometown Hospitality Hero of 2015, Alie Bahsoon.

Bahsoon is the Purchasing Manager for the City of Fort Smith, Arkansas. He is also a board member of the Arkansas Chapter of the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP) and serves as the public relations, newsletter and website Chair. Alie is responsible for bringing this esteemed group of procurement officers and purchasers to Fort Smith, Arkansas for their annual conference on March 8-10, 2015. Because March is designated as National Procurement Month – which is celebrated all over the nation by public procurement professionals – the group holds their annual convention during this time, each year. Knowing WHEN the convention would be held was the easy part, but the effort and planning that went into figuring out HOW to secure this event for Fort Smith began nearly five years ago.

Bahsoon partnered with former Director of The Office of State Procurement, Jane T. Benton, to take a serious look at Fort Smith as a possible venue, but bringing the event to the area wouldn’t be a simple task. In the past, the annual event had
always been held in Little Rock or Hot Springs, Arkansas; the argument had been that these central locations would likely yield the highest level of attendance. However, Bahsoon begged to differ. And after spending the next several years encouraging his colleagues to consider Fort Smith, his persistence paid off.

In March of 2014, the process of bringing the Arkansas NIGP to Fort Smith became a reality, and a convention planning committee was formed with Bahsoon as one of its members. After a scheduled site visit to Arkansas’ second-largest city – in October of 2014 – they were convinced that their event needed to be held in Fort Smith. The convention planning group was pleasantly surprised by the size of Fort Smith and the overwhelming syzygy of history, modernity and nature that make the city so special. They were able to discover the city’s amenities and many hidden gems that boast some of the most unique shopping, dining, nightlife, fine arts, and historically significant landmarks.

Soon thereafter, Fort Smith was officially selected as the convention site and the downtown trolley was even reserved for transportation to the MovieLounge, which added another unique and exciting dimension to the convention. Purchasers and procurement officers, as well as potential vendors, were then notified. So, would the new location attract as many vendors and attendees?

Bahsoon was confident that the event would be just as successful in Fort Smith as it was in Little Rock or Hot Springs, and he was right. There were more than 55 vendors and nearly 100 purchasers and procurement officers in attendance. The convention provided many continued education opportunities to assist attendees obtain various professional designations. Topics included: “piggy-backing” purchases to reduce costs, taxes, fraud, and procurement trends. Workshops like, “Principled Centered Negotiations,” “Achieving MVP Status – Mind Exchange,” and, “Emotional Intelligence,” were among the most popular. Since attendance was high, Fort Smith benefited a great deal from the convention.

Being such a recent event, the overall economic impact of the annual conference is still being calculated, but it has been estimated at $40.5K so far. The group did not realize all that Fort Smith had to offer. “We wanted to make a favorable impression so that they will come back,” said Bahsoon. While reflecting on his efforts to bring the event to Fort Smith, he said that he was pleased to be able to showcase Fort Smith, Arkansas. In the same respect, we at the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau are just as pleased – more so, we are thankful – that Alie Bahsoon worked so hard to positively impact our community.


Would you like to nominate Alie in this year’s, “4th Annual Giving Recognition in Tourism (GRIT) Awards?” Click on the image below to nominate Patrick and other Hometown Heroes.

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Auschwitz Survivor Speaks

It’s wonderful having the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith around, particularly because of the terrific roster of speakers, performers, shows, exhibits, concerts and special events they bring to our community. Tomorrow, Feb. 21 is no exception, as one of the world’s most renowned survivors of the Holocaust comes to Fort Smith to share her story and insights.

Holocaust survivor Eva Kor is known the world over as a speaker and forgiveness activist. UAFS is bringing Kor to Fort Smith for an event in conjunction with the College of Languages and Communication’s ReadThis! program. Kor will be available to sign her books after she speaks. The event will be held on the university campus at 5 p.m. in Breedlove Auditorium, 5210 Grand Avenue.

Here’s the short version of her story (reading this in no way takes away from hearing the longer version from Kor herself): Born in Romania in 1935, Eva and her twin sister, Miriam, were only six years old when they were taken with their family to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. At the camp Eva and Miriam were subjected to Joseph Mengele’s now-infamous genetic experiments. Their parents and two older sisters were killed. Kor herself had been close to death.

The two survived by shear will and determination and were found with 200 other children when the camp was liberated in 1945. Mengele and the Nazi doctors had murdered nearly 1,500 sets of twins in their experiments, and Eva Kor herself had been close to death. After liberation, she still felt oppressed under the Communists and finally immigrated to Israel, where she met the American tourist, also a survivor of the holocaust, who would become her husband and bring her to America.

In 1984, Kor founded “Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors,” CANDLES, through which she located 122 other living “Mengele twins,” as the experiment survivors came to be known.

Before the founding of CANDLES, little was known about the so-called Mengele twins, and Kor and the group participated in a mock trial of Mengele in Israel, which helped attract more attention to the surviving twins. Fifty years after her liberation, Kor returned again to Auschwitz, where she surprised many by announcing that, in her name only, she would forgive the Nazis for what they had done and thereby release herself from the pain of her personal suffering.

The details of Kor’s life and her struggle to promote peace and forgiveness have become legendary, as has the controversy over her decision to forgive. She was featured in the award-winning documentary, “Forgiving Dr. Mengele,” and published a memoir, “Surviving the Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz.”

UAFS’ ReadThis! initiative allows students and the community come together to read and discuss a common book. This year’s selection is Simon Weisenthal’s, “The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness,” which recounts Weisenthal’s experiences in the death camps and his own struggle to forgive the Nazis.

This is a rare opportunity to hear one of the most powerful stories of our time from the person who lived it. We hope you can attend!

Contact Info: 479-788-7290

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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!

Roy & Juanita Culverson Southern Bowling Congress Fort Smith Hometown Hospitality Heroes

Juanita and Roy Culverson, Fort Smith residents and organizers of the Southern Bowling Congress’ 75th Annual Handicap Tournament, to be held in Fort Smith March 10 through April 1, 2012.

Our newest Hometown Hospitality Heroes are Fort Smith residents Roy and Juanita Culverson. The Culversons are responsible for bringing the Southern Bowling Congress (SBC) 75th Annual Handicap Tournament to Fort Smith beginning on Saturday March 10, 2012 and continuing every weekend in March through April 1, 2012. Registrations are coming in for between 400-500 teams, most of whom will have their families in attendance– a total of more than 3,500 guests to our city over the four weekends. Teams hail from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

Southern Bowling Congress logo

Roy Culverson has been a part of the SBC tournaments for the past 25 years and has served as a board member for the past six years. He also serves as the 2012 tournament Director with his wife, Juanita, assisting him. Juanita has participated in the Southern Bowling Congress since Roy became a board member in 2006. They helped to bring the Southern Bowling Congress to Fort Smith in 2006 when Roy served as the Director with two co-managers. Juanita did all the administrative work for that event and organized the volunteers who provided countless hours of combined effort to make the 2006 tournament a huge success. (more…)

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