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6th Annual AFR Networker Electrifies Orlando Event Community

Posted: 9.27.13
Category: Special Events

We were presented with a unique opportunity for our sixth annual Orlando Networker. For more than 100 years, the historical Church Street Station Exchange had been the heart of downtown Orlando, but it closed in the nineties and has remained so ever since.  Recently undergoing revitalization, when the Exchange approached us to be the venue sponsor for this year’s networker, we were thrilled.  The Exchange is working hard to take back its rightful place as a jewel of downtown. With many different options for special event spaces, the event community in Orlando has been intrigued and curious about all it has to offer.  What a great opportunity to let them see it for themselves and feature our furnishings at the same time.

Welcome to Church Street Rising!

The Exchange is an old building with an ornate motif of gold, ivory and burgundy.  We decided to work with the decor and not against it by sticking to earthy and neutral tones that would work within the space. Our goal was to create a reminiscent experience for our guests that remember, know and love the space.  In order to do so, we flashed to the past and used unique opportunities to tickle guest’s memories.

A custom entry piece created from an original negative of the street scene from yesteryear provided a striking entry and a quick stop photo op for guests entering the event. Another teaser was that of Rosie O’Grady’s a very popular hotspot in the 70’s and 80’s which we brought back with a custom backdrop done in chalk for a photo op backdrop inside the event. Guests could have their picture taken and immediately upload it to social media using the official hash tag #afrTOUR.

To bring back Nickel Beer Thursdays, we placed jars of nickels around the event and encouraged guests to grab them and toss them in jars placed on the bars when they got a drink. We even found old Nickel Beer Mugs to add to the experience.

What was a mall back in the 80’s without an arcade?  To create one, we used an empty retail space and blacked it out with drape, lit it with twinkle lights and filled it with favorite games of the 80’s and 90’s.  Skee-Ball or Wack-A-Mole anyone?

We used empty storefront display windows to create a “window shopping” experience so that guests could see our exciting new collections for 2014 including our new Chandler, Parma, Regale and Provence Bar Collections.  Our idea worked perfectly!

Along with our Preview Collections, we also featured new products including our Vermont table at registration, Harmony tables, our new Memphis pub and communal tables with Marcus and Regal bar stools, Winston matched with Civic tables, the Grammercy Collection, ½ banquettes with round Rose tables, Zinc cocktail tables, our Chateau Line mixed with Knob Hill Ivory and Grey, our Whisper banquette, Quarter round ottomans interspersed with our Teal Regency Cubes and branded White Cube end tables, Umber bars, branded Curved bars as well as our Hayden Tables and Benches.  We were really able to showcase a vast array of furnishings in a distinctive manner.

We had four Design Challengers this year:  Showorks, Exhilarate, Greenery Productions and Kirby Rentals.  Each designer created a unique setting featuring some of our furnishings in innovative and interesting ways. Guests voted and dropped their vote in our new Storage Locking Ottoman “ballot box.”

The Orlando Design Challenge winner by popular vote was Showorks.  Their vignette featured Ashbury, Elio Chairs and Civic end tables.  In Orlando, we also award a Best Use of Furniture, and this year it went to Kirby Rentals who used a great array of furniture within their setting. Congratulations to both companies!

Food and beverage throughout the event was delectable and served in a variety of fun ways.  Keeping with the nostalgic theme, we used the venue’s original street carts to serve up foods like popcorn, ice cream and coffee just as it was in the hey day when the street scene came alive on Friday and Saturday nights. In another area, one of our event designers created a hanging conveyer belt that revolved in a circular motion with “swings hanging down” which one of the caterers used as a serving station.  As it revolved around, guests could choose the item they wanted. It was custom designed with gears at the top, which were also featured on our invitations. It was a BIG hit. Foods were presented VERY creatively and a guest favorite was the chicken and waffle cones, which consisted of a waffle with mashed potatoes at the bottom and layered with bacon and chicken. It was simply delish and also the number one photo on Instagram from the event.

The entertainment was innovative with two Living Lamps for photo ops. They were really unique. Again, bringing in the street scene inside, stilt walkers roamed throughout the event. A fantastic band with a very Mumford & Sons vibe took down the house with two sets during the evening. A caricaturist gone the way of technology drew guests’ characters with his finger on an iPad while guest watched on a large screen.  When finished, the caricatures were immediately emailed to the guest.

Tom Kervitsky from TEK Productions won the drawing for The Special Event Conference package provided by our National Sponsor Partner, The Special Event.  Congratulations Tom!  We’ll see you in Nashville!

This year’s event was a huge success and attended by 450 event planners from Orlando and surrounding areas.

As with all our networkers, our sponsors were amazing and we are so appreciative of all their hard work and generosity.  Many thanks to Botanica, Lee James Floral, Mayesh Wholesale Florist, Exchange Building, EVO, Puff-n-Stuff Catering, Millenia Catering, John Michaels Events, Tim Webber: The Coordinator, Arthur’s Catering, Espresso Events, Kernel Encore, Brown-Forman, Blue Martini, Breezin’ Entertainment, Fun Planners, Caricature Connection, Spectrum Productions, Edlen Electric, Swag Décor, Wizard Connection, Chalk Talk Events, Connie Duglin, Exulting Images, Perfect Sky Videography, Crash My Event, Urbancoast, Gabriella Tucci Hair Designs, Illuma Minerals, Express Signs, Paula Wyatt Events, eTouches and The Special Event. It is our partners that really contribute to making this evening and the tour, a complete success.

A very special thank you and photo credit to Exulting Images the official photography sponsor of the 2013 AFR Showcase event.  Tears of Joy Photography by Sidney Smith also allowed us to use some of their photographs for this blog.

We’re off and running again with our next tour dates in Boca Raton and Las Vegas. Please check back often for more exciting updates and please join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by using the official tour hashtag #afrTOUR.