It was initially an economic measure. Instead of costly flowers, National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC) Director of Meetings and Events Beth Hecquet, CMP, CMM, decided to work with host venues to artfully arrange the dessert as the table centerpiece at meal events during NASC’s annual meeting, the Sports Event Symposium. And then it turned into an opportunity for sponsors to give NASC’s 800-plus sports-tourism-professional attendees a real taste of each destination.
“In 2010, we did Krispy Kreme donuts decorated as basketballs,” Hecquet said, which tied Krispy Kreme’s North Carolina roots to the luncheon sponsor — the Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, whose logo at the time featured a basketball. The year before, “we did buckeye candies at the luncheon sponsored by Columbus,” she said, “as the buckeye is the state tree of Ohio.”
When NASC was preparing for the 20th annual Sports Event Symposium at Hartford’s Connecticut Convention Center in 2012, the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau (CTCSB) and the center’s chef worked with Hecquet to provide attendees with a piece of Connecticut history. Taking center stage on each luncheon table was a pre-sliced Bundt cake called Election Cake, a cross between a fruitcake and bread. On everyone’s seat was a postcard provided by CTCSB that explained how the cake was served at banquets on Election Day in major cities such as Hartford where voters came to cast their ballots in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Eating may be a social activity, but even sit-down-meal events don’t always foster conversation. And so NASC’s dessert centerpieces are more than something for attendees to feast their eyes on. They can help get people talking — between those yummy bites, of course.