2011 Conference and Convention: ACB Goes Gold in the Silver State

by Carla Ruschival

It's mid-November as I write this article, and serious planning is already under way for ACB's golden anniversary at the 50th annual conference and convention in Reno, Nev.

Some members of the national convention committee just spent a hectic few days in Reno. We visited potential tour sites, talked with transportation contractors, and met with hotel catering, audio/visual and accounting personnel. We began conversations with the airport, discussed accessibility issues with conference venues, and got to know members of the local host committee. We began work on the hotel description and made significant progress on meeting room configurations for general session, exhibits, special-interest group meetings, and in-hotel workshops and social events.

You'll be hearing much more about all of these areas in the coming months. For now, here's a glimpse at the fabulous week waiting for you in July.

Conference and convention dates are July 8 through 16. Come early and stay late so you can take in all the great exhibits, tours, workshops, presentations and other events that make conference week special.

Reno is in the high desert, so daytime temps are moderate and nights may even be a bit chilly. Tours aren't quite finalized, but we have some incredible and unique plans for 2011 conference attendees. You'll visit the National Automobile Museum with beautiful cars that belonged to Mary Pickford, Frank Sinatra, and many other famous people. You can touch Elvis' white Cadillac, sit in a Model T, and examine a wonderful tactile globe that served as the trophy for the first race around the world in 1907.

Other possible excursions include a train ride from Carson City to historic Virginia City with plenty of time to explore the famous ghost town; visits to Lake Tahoe for boat rides and more fun; and maybe even parasailing, bungee jumping and bigger and better indoor rock climbing than ever before.

But wait! There's more! Michael Fulghum, your always enthusiastic and creative tour coordinator, is working with the Nugget casino toward Blackjack and Texas Hold 'em tournaments with braille cards. There are eight restaurants in the hotel, and he's exploring a progressive dinner -- right on property. Finally, he is planning the city tour, the "Sweet Tooth" tour, and much, much more.

Sponsors and Exhibitors: Corporations, organizations and agencies are invited to become 2011 ACB gems. There's a sponsorship to fit every budget, from pearl ($1,000) to diamond ($20,000). Many advertising opportunities are available as well. Request information and forms from Margarine Beaman, advertising and sponsorship coordinator, at (512) 921-1625 or oleo50@hotmail.com.

A large number of exhibitors are expected to participate in this 50th anniversary conference. Booths are now available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information and to reserve your space, contact Michael Smitherman, exhibits coordinator, at (601) 331-7740 or amduo@bellsouth.net.

It's not too early to sign up as an ACB conference volunteer. Whether you assist with a tour, the FIA Showcase, the ACB auction, registration, exhibits, or some other aspect of the conference, you need to register with Sally Benjamin, volunteer coordinator, at 1-877-268-3664 or at volunteer@acb.org.

You are invited to visit our web site at www.acb.org for more exhibit, advertising, sponsorship, and volunteer information. Forms are available on the web site for your convenience.

Planning Events: Each ACB committee and special-interest affiliate holding events at the upcoming conference and convention has a representative on the convention-planning e-mail list. This list is my way of distributing information to these affiliates and committees. A similar list, designed especially for exhibitors, sponsors, and non-affiliated groups holding events at the convention, is now being created.

Bring the Family: Lots of things make this conference family-friendly. Food costs are much reduced from those of the past two years. I ate a full breakfast at Rosie's for about $10; my broccoli cheese soup, fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans, and HUGE caramel ice cream sundae was under $20 on Saturday evening. The casino is at one end of the first floor, and a huge video game area designed for kids is on the second floor. The Youth Activity Center will feature many fun activities for the younger set.

Mobility in the hotel will be far easier than you would expect. All meetings and exhibits will be on the second and third floors, away from the casino. All restaurants except for a deli are on the first floor; again, you don't need to go through the casino to reach most of them. A tile walkway keeps you "on the beaten path" to first-floor restaurants, the front desk, lounges, and the casino; no wandering through an endless sea of carpet.

Reservations: The home for ACB from July 8 through 16 is the John Ascuaga Nugget Hotel Resort Casino. Room rates are $87 plus tax, single/double; add $10 per night for each additional person in your room. Free round-trip transportation from the airport, train or bus station is included.

Make reservations by calling 1-800-648-1177. Use group code "gblind" to insure that you receive the ACB rate. Be sure to reserve rooms in the West Tower, as that is where our rooms are blocked.

New this year: You can make hotel reservations on-line. Visit www.januggetsecure.com/jump/1308 to check it out. We would appreciate feedback concerning your online reservation experience.

For more information, call the ACB national office at (202) 467-5081 or 1-800-424-8666, or contact Carla Ruschival, chair, ACB national conference and convention committee, at (502) 303-7042 or by e-mail at adamcarla@bellsouth.net.