Changes coming to visitors center

Greeters were ready for trick-or-treaters at Morrison Campus Alternative School.

Photo by Jolene Guzman
Greeters were ready for trick-or-treaters at Morrison Campus Alternative School.



DALLAS — The Dallas Area Visitors Center is planning to spice up its events for 2018, and that effort is beginning with role changes.

JD Shinn, the chief executive officer of the Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce and the visitors center, continues to oversee both organizations.

Changes are to the responsibilities of employees Ashley Kahl and Bonnie Dreier.

Kahl’s official title is events and programs director and Dreier is the events and programs coordinator. Dreier remains the Polk County Bounty Market manager.

“Basically, she (Ashley) does the big stuff,” Dreier said. “She goes out and meets with the people, makes the connections, gets the bands.”

Kahl said Dreier is the “behind the scenes” specialist.

“Bonnie is doing all the paperwork, all that fun stuff, vendor connections, making sure everything stays organized behind the scenes,” Kahl said. “She puts all the little pieces together to make the event whole. I come in with my big ideas and my dreamer mentality, and she helps me figure out how to make that a reality.”

Last year, Dreier served as the events and programs manager, adding being the lead organizer of all visitors center events to her duties. She said she was stretched too thin to manage all events well on top of what she was already doing.

Kahl, hired to be an administrative assistant last year, has taken some of that responsibility off Dreier’s plate.

“I think this transition for my job title is really just to alleviate some of Bonnie’s stresses, some extra stuff she took on when the organization shifted a year ago,” Kahl said. “I think this shift, me being director and her being coordinator, really plays to each of our strengths. I mean, I could not look at applications and enter in databases. I would rip my hair out, but she loves it and is great at it. She doesn’t want to get up and give a presentation, and I love it. It works out very, very well.”

With the role shift in place, the pair is tuning up the events on the 2018 schedule.

The downtown part of Summerfest will be two days instead of three, with a stronger focus on family friendly fun.

Freedomfest is slated to move all events to Roger Jordan Park, instead of having some events at Dallas City Park and fireworks at Roger Jordan.

Sounds of Summer will have monthly rather that weekly concerts, Kahl said.

“The goal is to have one really quality concert each month,” Kahl said.

The upcoming Community Award Ceremony will be held at Eola Hills Winery in Rickreall this year, with the return of the Junior First Citizen Award.

“We brought back Junior First Citizen, but we tweaked it to be someone 18 and younger,” Kahl said. “We’re really excited about that change and being able to offer that award to highlight a special youth in our community. We are still looking for nominations.”

Another change is the possibility of partnering with an organization to run the annual Halloween Trick-n-Treat event — or handing it off entirely. This year’s event was a success with about 950 people streaming though for candy and games offered by 13 businesses and organizations in Morrison’s gym.

Though nothing is final, Kahl said she wants to see Trick-n-Treat continue and even expand.

“If we do end up passing off Halloween, it would be to someone who is a really good fit for it,” Kahl said. “The reason being for us to pass it off is so we can hone in on certain events that do promote tourism.”

Kahl said she anticipates some negative reactions to the changes, particularly shortening events or holding fewer, but said it’s being done with the objective of making those on the schedule better. She added events may grow in the future.

“We hope that people can understand and respect that we want to make the events really great, rather than just a string of mediocre events,” she said. “I think Dallas deserves better than that. That’s really our goal, and we are making that our mission for 2018.”



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