National Guard March 2017 : Page 28

C ONFERENCE PREVIEW Unbridled HOSPITALITY A city that produces bourbon by the barrel, delicious new twists on Southern cuisine and great champions is opening its arms to NGAUS BY CODY ERBACHER OU RB B ON O I S B IG I N LOU ISVILLE. Real big. Kentucky’s largest city y produces one-third of o f t he e w or o l ld ’s s uppl y and l ocal residents are always happy y to give you a taste or two. But i qu q id c he h er i s h ar a dl y i ts o n nl l y o ffering. The long list includes one-of-a-kind attractions li ike k t he h l eg en n da d ry y C hu h rc hi h ll D owns, the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, an d t he M uh u am m m ma d A li C en nte r. Th en n t h he re r i s t h he e f oo d, p ou pr udl d y S ou o th er e n w it t h som me tw is i ts t f ro r om e ls l ew e he h re e . A ll l l s er e ve ed wi w i t th h t h he e h o os s pi p i ta t a li l i ty y t h ha t h a as s m ad a d e th e r eg io on f am a ou us. s I n f ac t, t So o ut h he e rn L vi Li v ng g c al a ls l L ou u is i vi ll l e “ o on e o f t he t op p 1 0 ta t a st t ie i e st s t t ow w n ns s .” . ” A An n d Z ag a g at a t, t h he o nl n li in ne l is i s t o f re e st au a rant and bar reviews says the city y “is one of f the 7 up and co mi ng g f oodi ie towns in America.” Na ti on o al G uard officers will have the opportunity y to sample a d s ee i t a ll w he n N GA an G US U convenes its 139th General Confer-en e n c ce e & E xh ib itio n i n the c it i y S ept. 7-10. “T T h ha at K en e tu t u ck c k y f l la vo v r i s j u ust the southern hospitality y that Ke nt K t u uc c k ky y ’s s a l lw w ay a y s b e ee n f amous for and some of f the Kentucky 28    NATIONAL GUARD   March 2017   WWW . NGAUS . ORG |

Conference Preview

Cody Erbacher

Unbridled HOSPITALITY

A city that produces bourbon by the barrel, delicious new twists on Southern cuisine and great champions is opening its arms to NGAUS

BOURBON IS BIG IN LOUISVILLE. Real big. Kentucky’s largest city produces one-third of the world’s supply and local residents are always happy to give you a taste or two. But iquid cheer is hardly its only offering. The long list includes one-of-a-kind attractions like the legendary Churchill Downs, the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, and the Muhammad Ali Center.

Then there is the food, proudly Southern with some twists fromelsewhere.All served with the hospitality that hasmade the region famous. In fact, Southern Living calls Louisville “one of the top 10 tastiest towns.” And Zagat, the online list of restaurant and bar reviews says the city “is one of the 7 up and coming foodie towns in America.”

National Guard officers will have the opportunity to sample and see it all when NGAUS convenes its 139th General Conference & Exhibition in the city Sept. 7-10.

“That Kentucky flavor is just the southern hospitality that Kentucky’s always been famous for and some of the Kentucky products that are here that people come to see,” says Chief Warrant Officer 5 James Simms, the executive director of the Kentucky National Guard Association, which is the local organizer of this year’s event.

One conference event sure to show attendees the best of the city is the Governor’s Reception, which is set for Churchill Downs. The site is home to the Kentucky Derby, which is the first leg of horseracing’s Triple Crown, often referred to as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.”

The actual race attracts more than 150,000 spectators who consume 120,000 mint juleps (mint leaf, bourbon, sugar syrup, and crushed ice) and, in all, about 7,000 liters of bourbon.

Simms promises the Governor’s Reception will have a Derby-like atmosphere, just a little bit smaller, complete with a special race just for attendees, mint juleps and women in lovely traditional hats.

But the city is not a one-horserace town. Louisville, Simms says, is “the racehorse capital of the world.”

“We have horses that are stabled here that are owned by people from all around the world,” Simms says. “We have numerous horse events throughout the year. Not only do we have the Kentucky Derby, we have equestrian events.”

Louisville also has history. It was founded in 1778 by Col. George Rogers Clark, a Revolutionary War hero. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark met there in 1803 before beginning their famous exploration of America’s West. And F. Scott Fitzgerald was stationed at a camp near Louisville as a young Army officer. Parts of the city, such as the Seelbach Hotel, served as inspiration for his classic novel, The Great Gatsby.

Among the most famous areas of the city is Museum Row. There you will find the Louisville Slugger Museum, which is home to the world’s biggest bat. It is 120-feet tall, weighs 68,000 pounds and is a replica of the bat wielded by Babe Ruth. Tours allow you to see how the bat used by your favorite ballplayer is made.

Right down the street is the Muhammad Ali Center, which honors the man many believe to be the greatest boxer of all of time. He’s a Louisville native who transcended his sport and maintains a global reputation even after his death. Inside, you can see artifacts from the champ’s life, including gloves and trunks he wore in some of his famous fights.

Haven’t quite found what you’re looking for yet? There’s a nearby shopping district, but also Fourth Street Live!, an entertainment district featuring unique and chain bars restaurants active late into the night, where attendees must find time to eat, says Maj. Stephen Martin, a Kentucky Guardsman who will be working public affairs for the conference.

Fourth Street Live! will host the annual Company Grade/Warrant Officer Mixer.

You should also stroll along Waterfront Park, which hugs the Ohio River and has a beauty all its own, according to Martin. The annual 5K Fun Run will take place at Waterfront Park.

“The city has a lot of unique aspects to it,” he says. “You really feel at home.”

Annual Events

The gathering will also include the staples of the annual conference. The business sessions will feature presentations from senior defense leaders. The exhibition will include displays of military hardware from a who’s who of the defense and domestic-response industries. There will be an officer-professional-development track for those attending on official orders. And important association business will be conducted, such as setting the NGAUS legislative agenda for 2018.

This will be retired Brig. Gen. Roy Robinson’s first conference as association president. He takes over NGAUS operations in Washington, D.C., this month. But he is no stranger to the event, having been on the association board and, most recently, the executive director of the National Guard Association of Mississippi, the nation’s largest state Guard association.

Robinson encourages company-grade officers to attend the conference, pointing out the unique opportunity it provides to network with their peers, meet and speak with senior officers in an informal setting, and see the latest advances in military equipment.

“I believe that sets our conference apart from anything else out there,” Robinson says. “It’s a huge experience. It’s a very valuable experience. I can’t fully convey to the junior officers all this will mean to them professionally to be a part of the conference and exhibition.”

Robinson has a bit of advice for those who will be attending for the first time.

“Take your time. Go through the exhibit hall and, oh, by the way, it doesn’t hurt to have a good time while you’re there,” he says.

This also will be Maj. Gen. James Hoyer’s first first conference as NGAUS chairman of the board. As the association’s elected leader, he will preside over the business sessions.

Getting There/Staying There

If you plan on flying to the conference, Louisville International Airport is served by most major U.S. carriers, either direct or via a major hub. But the airport is international in name only. There are no longer any nonstop passenger flights arriving from or departing to a location outside the United States.

But due to Louisville’s central location, half the U.S. population is only a day’s drive away.

For those who plan on driving, three major interstate highways run through the city of Louisville— I-71, I-65 and I-64.

Four of the five official conference hotels (box, below) are downtown and only steps from many of Louisville’s many attractions and popular bars and restaurants. Buses will take attendees every day to the Kentucky Exposition Center, site of most conference meetings and the exhibition. The trip will take about 15 minutes each way.

Events conclude Sept. 10 with the States Dinner. Keeping with the local vibe, the recommended dress is Derby attire: light-colored, plaid or seersucker blazers for the men and spring dresses and hats for the ladies. Hats are the key. Generally, they are wide-brimmed, but they can be decorated with flowers, feathers and ribbons of any color to express creativity and individuality.

Mint juleps will be available.

Registration, Transportation, Exhibit & Hotel Information

Registration

NGAUS members should register through their state or territory associations. A website will be established this month to facilitate registration for exhibitors and other industry representatives. The registration fee is $180. It covers all business sessions, the exhibition, refreshments during breaks, the Company Grade/Warrant Officer Mixer, brunch Sept. 8, the Governor’s Reception, lunch Sept. 9 and the States Dinner. Other activities, like golf and the 5K run, are extra.

Flights

Louisville International Airport (SDF) serves the city. It handles many commercial carriers and is about a 15-minute ride from downtown.

Ground Transportation

A free shuttle will be provided to conference attendees between the airport and official conference hotels on the main travel days, Sept. 6, 7 and 11. Taxis and paid shuttles are options on other days.

Exhibit Booth Sales

Prospective exhibitors should contact SPARGO Inc., the association’s exhibit sales and management team, at 888- 215-2241/703-995-2567. A prospectus and exhibit floor map are available at www.NGAUSExhibits.com.

Official Attendee Hotels The Brown Hotel

www.brownhotel.com

Delaware, Illinois, North Dakota

Crowne Plaza Louisville Airport Expo Center

www.crowneplaza.com

Guam, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island

Galt House

www.galthouse.com

Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Hyatt Regency

www.louisville.regency.hyatt.com

Alaska, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Louisiana, NGAUS, Ohio

Marriott Downtown

www.marriott.com

Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Washington

More Information

Additional conference details are available at www.ngaus.org/ngaus2017. More information on Louisville attractions is available at www.gotolouisville.com.

Hashtag

NGAUS2017

Read the full article at http://nationalguardmagazine.com/article/Conference+Preview/2734130/390892/article.html.

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