Culture Trends Q+A 2011: Lynn Duncan, Hilton Anatole Dallas

Prevue asked Lynn Duncan’s director of catering, her thoughts on Dallas’  culture trends for 2011. 

Q: What are examples of highly creative and/or culturally themed group events that highlight the destination?
A: The MPI World Congress Party featured an extensive theme called “The Art of the Anatole,” which highlighted the hotel’s existing artwork in the event area with custom easels. We also borrowed pieces from local museums to augment our existing pieces.

For entertainment, a hidden actor “gossiped” and interacted with guests as they walked by, highlighting “The Gossips” by Bjorn Wiinblad—a work that is part of the Anatole Art Collection. Also, local groups such as the Turtle Creek Chorale and Dallas Black Dance Theater performed intermittently throughout the event.

Q: Which museums or other cultural venues are popular for visiting groups?
A: Fair Park is a combination of cultural, educational and sports facilities that attract more than seven million visitors yearly. Attendees can go to the Cotton Bowl, a concert at Center or a show at the Pan American Arena. The Dallas Museum of Art, IMAX Theater and Dallas Aquarium are also located here.

The Dallas Arts District is a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood in the heart of the city that’s big on culture and entertainment. Visitors and groups can explore innovative architecture, exhibits, arts/dance programs and much more. The backbone of the area is the AT&T Performing Arts Center, which creates a kind of “village of the arts.”

Q: Are there certain festivals during the year that can build in ROI for a group program?
A: Yes, in fact there are too many to count! But here are my top three: The annual two-week State Fair of Texas in the fall is the largest state fair in the United States. Thousands of visitors come to enjoy a wide variety of food, fair rides, games, a huge auto show and live music.

GrapeFest is a four-day wine tasting event with live music on several stages, grape stomping, auctions, wine competitions, cooking demonstrations and even a tennis match. It’s the largest wine festival in the Southwest.

The Deep Ellum Arts Festival is a free three-day event, complete with rock bands, beer gardens and one of the best parties of the year in Dallas. There are hundreds of artists, dancers and designers participating.

Q: What are some examples of local cuisine that tie into local culture?
A: Nothing says “Texas” more than a big, juicy steak. Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse serves Texas longhorn beef, local chops and the best wild game anywhere on the Dallas restaurant scene. RJ Mexican Cuisine is another staple of authentic Dallas dining. They offer one of the biggest selections of wines and tequila in Dallas. And Stephan Pyles is a combination of Southwest, Latin and Spanish cuisine. It’s an ultra high-end restaurant located close to the Dallas Arts District. We also work with local F&B vendors like the world famous Dallas Mozzarella Company and Rahr Beer.