• Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 Winners

    POSTED April 23, 2019

    You're the Best: Find out who our readers have chosen as the winners and runners-up of the Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 readers’ choice awards.

  • Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 Winners

    POSTED April 23, 2019

    You're the Best: Find out who our readers have chosen as the winners and runners-up of the Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 readers’ choice awards.

  • Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 Winners

    POSTED April 23, 2019

    You're the Best: Find out who our readers have chosen as the winners and runners-up of the Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 readers’ choice awards.

  • Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 Winners

    POSTED April 23, 2019

    You're the Best: Find out who our readers have chosen as the winners and runners-up of the Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 readers’ choice awards.

  • Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 Winners

    POSTED April 23, 2019

    You're the Best: Find out who our readers have chosen as the winners and runners-up of the Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 readers’ choice awards.

  • Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 Winners

    POSTED April 23, 2019

    You're the Best: Find out who our readers have chosen as the winners and runners-up of the Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 readers’ choice awards.

  • Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 Winners

    POSTED April 23, 2019

    You're the Best: Find out who our readers have chosen as the winners and runners-up of the Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 readers’ choice awards.

  • Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 Winners

    POSTED April 23, 2019

    You're the Best: Find out who our readers have chosen as the winners and runners-up of the Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 readers’ choice awards.

  • Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 Winners

    POSTED April 23, 2019

    You're the Best: Find out who our readers have chosen as the winners and runners-up of the Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 readers’ choice awards.

  • Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 Winners

    POSTED April 23, 2019

    You're the Best: Find out who our readers have chosen as the winners and runners-up of the Minnesota M+E Best of 2019 readers’ choice awards.

Best Livestreaming/Webcasting Service

MNM+E: How can planners benefit from livestreaming a meeting or event?
Corporations, nonprofits and government organizations alike are taking notice when it comes to the value of livestreaming events. We have livestreamed galas to raise more money from a remote audience, and we have streamed conferences to people who could not be there in person. Remote engagement has become a real player in the social media age.

MNM+E: Any tips for planners?
: To make the most out of livestreaming to a remote audience, make sure you have enough budget in the video department of the event. This can mean anything from the right encoders to broadcast trucks, depending on the complexity of the stream. Having plenty of camera angles and interesting camera types is helpful, too. I recommend budgeting to have many more cameras than usual. Having a dedicated team for the livestream is crucial. Your online audience has different needs than your in-person audience and should be treated as such. Having commercials, pre- and post-roll content along with lower third graphics and packages all enhance the remote audience's experience. Don’t settle for consumergrade or prosumer-grade equipment. If you want a true experience for your remote audience, hire professionals with professional-grade equipment. It makes all the difference.

Runners-up: Heroic Productions; ​Mediapolis, LLC

Best Hotel with Meeting/Event Space (300 or More Guest Rooms)

JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America’s location (connected to MOA and a light rail trip to downtown Minneapolis), local F&B offerings and various meeting spaces make the hotel a favorite among planners. It’s also part of the Under One Roof meeting experience that works with the Mall of America and Radisson Blu Mall of America to offer even more event space and entertainment to planners.

F&B: The hotel’s catering looks to Minnesota to influence its cuisine, cocktails, wine and coffee. Cedar + Stone, Urban Table, the on-site restaurant, has private dining space that can seat 14 guests.

342 rooms/suites
19,945 square feet of flexible event space
15,350-square-foot Diamond Ballroom with 20-foot ceilings for up to 1,700 attendees
7,000+ square feet of prefunction space
12 breakout rooms
6 event spaces

Runners-up: Hilton Minneapolis; Radisson Blu Mall of America

Best Event Décor Provider

On the design inspiration for a recent event: "Pete Nelson designed an event at the Guthrie Theatre in the Black Box, a venue where colors really pop. Our Scandinavian client, celebrating their 80th anniversary, mentioned Marimekko fabric. We found a fabulous Marimekko fabric that drove the entire design. Custom linens were made for the dining tables and matching graphics to cover high-top cocktail tables. An 8-footby-8-foot-tall “80” was covered with over 1,200 pink and fuchsia ornaments. The ceiling treatment carried out the fabric design and stunning white amaryllis tied in the holiday season celebration."

Runners-up: Bungalow 6 Design + Events; Girl Friday

Best Sports Venue

MNM+E: In April, Minneapolis hosted its fourth NCAA Men’s Final Four tournament. How did the U.S. Bank Stadium team prepare for the event?
U.S. Bank Stadium
: Our team was in lock-step with the NCAA and community partners in planning all event aspects taking place on the stadium’s footprint. Transforming our football stadium to support basketball operations included adding a temporary basketball court, thousands of additional seats, a center-hung scoreboard and use of a darkening solution to cover the stadium’s 460,000 square feet of glass to ultimately execute a world-class event for fans, staff and athletes alike.

events hosted per year
241,000 square feet of stadium floor concourse space
80,000 square feet of club space
16 total event spaces, including six clubs, four cabins, a lodge and a truss bar

Runners-up: Target Field; Xcel Energy Center

Best Entertainment (Performer or Talent Agency)

MNM+E: Do you have tips for planners on how to most effectively incorporate music into an event?
We love it when clients have a theme for their events. It allows us to match the music to the venue and décor. It’s also very important to know what kind of event you are hosting; some events benefit from a more subtle and elegant approach while others are designed for people to cut loose and go crazy. Having a clear vision going in enables us to seamlessly integrate the music with the overall feel of the event and create amazing outcomes for our clients.

MNM+E: What are some options that are best for a nonwedding event?
: Our Premium DJs are ideally suited for our corporate clients as they have a mountain of knowledge and experience working with a diverse clientele. Our new wireless up lighting packages have become very popular for clients looking to wow their guests. We also offer live music/DJ combos for clients looking for something a little different.

Runners-up: Brave New Workshop; Acme Comedy Co.

Landmark Center

Best Historic or Cultural Venue

The Landmark Center is packed with history, which makes a stunning setting for meetings and events. Between its four restored courtrooms, auditorium and atrium, groups as small as 20 or as big as 1,000 can enjoy the space.

A look at Landmark Center’s history:

1902: The building opened as a Federal Court House and Post Office for the Upper Midwest after starting construction in 1892. It was the site of many famous “Gangster Trials” in the 1930s.

By 1965: Virtually empty and in disrepair, the threat of demolition loomed. A group of local citizens spearheaded a campaign to save the building.

1969: The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and renovation began. The building was renamed Landmark Center.

1978: Reopened as an arts and cultural center. Today, it serves as a cultural center for music, dance, theater, exhibitions, public forums, and hosts countless special events.

Runners-up: James J. Hill House; Mill City Museum

Best Event Rental Provider

MNM+E: What are some of your eco-friendly practices?
The nature of a rental business is eco-friendly! Our products can be cleaned and used again and again.

Here are some ways Après goes greener:
• refurbishing damaged tables into smaller rentable sizes
• printing on paper made of recycled material using black ink, and printing on both sides
• using in-house laundry
• reusing packaging materials such as bubble wrap, packing popcorn and plastic bags

Runners-up: Ultimate Events; BeThings

Best Audio-Visual Provider

3 tips from Allied Productions & Sales:
1. You get what you pay for!
2. Learn your tech terminology and know what you are asking for.
3. The further ahead you can plan, usually the cheaper and smoother your event will be.

MNM+E: What new technology are you using?
We have been doing a lot of interesting and fun things with video mapping this year. We did an interactive video of a river of life that moved as guests walked through during a gala.

Runners-up: AV For You; AVEX

Best Convention & Visitors Bureau (in Town/Area More than 80,000 in Population)

MNM+E: How is Meet Minneapolis marketing the city post-Super Bowl?
While the Super Bowl gave us an international platform to shine, our game plan has never wavered: to market, sell and maximize the visitor experience of Minneapolis for the economic benefit of our community. To that end, we continue working to bring meetings, conventions and events to the city. In 2019, we are welcoming more than 600 meetings, groups and conventions to Minneapolis. We are highlighting Minneapolis throughout all four seasons from the downtown core and into our unique neighborhoods. We are sharing the story of the city as well as our motto: You’ve never met a place quite like this. Meet Minneapolis.

Runners-up: Visit Saint Paul; Explore Brainerd Lakes

Best Transportation Provider

MNM+E: How can Renee's accommodate custom tours?
All of our tours are customized for each client based on their interests and available time. For our Wine Tours, for example, we’ll establish all of the routing and timing and coordinate with each winery for a VIP experience. If the group wants to incorporate a stop for lunch or another experience, we’ll work that into the itinerary. For groups with out-oftowners, our City Tours are most popular. We often accommodate groups between 100 and 300, but we have yet to turn down a group because they are too large or complex.

Runners-up: Lorenz Bus Service; Premier Transportation

Surly Brewing Company

Best Brewery/Distillery/Winery with Event Space

MNM+E: What are the F&B options at Surly?
Surly: We offer a full-service, in-house event culinary team and pastry team. We’re a completely from-scratch kitchen, using local vendors and farmers to fill as much of our needs as possible, and focus on creating exceptional menu items that elevate our beer. Scheid Hall is accompanied by its own private bar with 40 rotating tap lines, a seasonal beercocktail menu and house-made N/A beverages. Chef works closely with our event planners and clients to personalize the menu for each event by creating custom food and beer pairing dinner menus, creating custom deserts, and incorporating their logo or brands whenever possible.

-square-foot ballroom
Accommodates 136 for a plated meal and up to 175 for a cocktail reception
The beer garden is also available to rent June 1-Sept. 30 and can hold 120 guests.

Runners-up: Winehaven Winery and Vineyard; Indeed Brewing Company

Best Convention/ Conference Center

The Minneapolis Convention Center won the 2018 Venue Excellence Award from the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM). MCC won a Venue Excellence Award in 2014 in a stand-alone category just for convention centers, but the 2018 award put Minneapolis Convention Center in the same pool as arenas, performing arts centers, amphitheaters, casinos, stadiums, etc. “This validates the dedication and effort our entire team puts into providing a world-class hospitality venue for our clients and the community,” says Executive Director Jeff Johnson. “Our employees are among the best in the world and, because of them, we are achieving our mission of serving this community by creating employment opportunities for workers, as well as generating tax revenue for the city.”

Runners-up: Saint Paul RiverCentre; Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC)

Best Casino

5 need-to-know perks for planning a meeting or event at Mystic Lake Center:

Experienced team: The property’s team of event planners, in-house chefs and audio-visual experts work collaboratively to ensure every detail is properly executed.

Convenient amenities: A championship golf course, spa, 10 bars and restaurants and one of the largest gaming floors east of Vegas await guests just steps from Mystic Lake’s meeting spaces.

Sophisticated space: Inspired by Minnesota's changing seasons, the center combines state-of-theart technology with stunning views and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the golf course.

Immersive branding: An on-site sign shop provides custom on-site branding packages including banners, floor decals, digital signage and more while expert printing and installation are coordinated by the property’s event and in-house marketing team.

A dedicated loading area: With a semitrailer overhead door (perfect for boats and RVs), planners can take advantage of convenient loading and unloading directly into the room of an event or expo.

Runners-up: Treasure Island Resort & Casino; Canterbury Park and Event Center

Best Team-Building Activity/Organizer

groups visited Escape MSP in 2018
24-48 Agents can be accommodated at one time (depending on location)
10 unique missions offered
3 locations

MNM+E: What sets Escape MSP apart from other teambuilding experiences?
Escape MSP:
We believe in having unforgettable experiences and that's what we strive to give every Agent who walks through our doors. Each guest is greeted as an Agent as part of our fullythemed spy experience and after each mission, we give the group a debrief and an overall score. The James Bond mission at our Minneapolis location is our most popular and, without giving too much away, there are handcuffs involved.

Runners-up: Kerfoot Canopy Tour; Topgolf

Best Photography

MNM+E: Do you have a favorite photo you took in the last year?
lauren b. photography:
One is the Bridgewater Bank’s Mississippi Mingle at Nicollet Island Pavilion; I love all the action and color (pictured to the left).

Runners-up: Coppersmith Photography; Graddy Photography

The Armory

Best New Venue (Sept. 2017-18)

MNM+E: Tell us about your 2018.
The Armory:
We closed out 2018 having hosted a record number of sold-out concerts, live shows, and sporting events including FS1 Boxing, AXS TV HeavyWeight Championship, MLK Breakfast, HCMC Light Up The Night Gala, Slayer’s Farewell Tour, Jack White, Greta Van Fleet, Beck, Deadmau5 and more. We were the winner of Best Venue to Open for City Page’s Best of the Twin Cities 2018, a finalists in Growler Magazine’s Kind-of-a-BigDeal awards, as well as nominated for Pollstar’s Best New Concert Venue. The Armory is poised for a full calendar in 2019 and beyond.

Runners-up: The Hutton House; Mystic Lake Center

Best Boats/Cruises/Charters

MNM+E: Any tips for planning an on-water event?
Al and Alma's:
We often recommend keeping things simple with a less-is-more approach. Guests love being on the water and a good boat ride, complemented with the best food and beverage, can make for fast friends and lasting memories. The gentle glide of the boat on the water relaxes guests and the passing scenery can be an organic ice breaker

Runners-up: St. Croix River Cruises; Stillwater River Boats

Best Convention & Visitors Bureau (in Town/Area Less than 25,000 in Population)

Visit Fergus Falls' slogan— Find Us, Lose Yourself—is both a challenge and invite to discover all this West Central Minnesota city has to offer planners.

Runners-up: Discover Stillwater; Red Wing Visitors & Convention Bureau

Best Resort/Lodge

square feet spread across
65 guest activities available on-property from ice skating and sleigh rides to pontoon rides and kayaking
60 guest rooms
4 creative flexible meeting spaces

This year, this regular readers’ choice awards winner has another accomplishment to celebrate with the opening of North, the resort’s new boutique hotel. Located on the resort’s main property, North will feature the latest in energy efficiency and a style all its own with “an urban take on the traditional guest lodge that’s quite a departure from the cabin-style accommodations at Grand View Lodge,” says Leana Nelson, marketing communications specialist for Grand View Lodge. Planners will also love the hotel’s two new gathering areas, expansive lobby with a grand fireplace, breakfast/wine bar, conference rooms, full-service business center and on-site A/V team. Flexible meeting spaces will also offer plenty of natural lighting, charging stations, large screen monitors/projectors, screen sharing and more.

Runners-up: Madden’s on Gull Lake; Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts

Best Florist

MNM+E: What trends do you expect to see in floral design in the year ahead?
Floral trends are constantly evolving. From bold protea to fun, unique foliage, our clients will ask for designs that include flowers and greens that they can connect to. It may be the color, it may be the rarity, or it may be the inherent beauty of living décor. Some trends we expect for the next year include the incorporation and obsession with greens. Creating special selfie or photo opportunities is also becoming quite popular. Floral and décor suspensions will also be trending.

MNM+E: What are some of the more unique events Bachman’s has designed for lately?
Some of the recent notable events we’ve had the opportunity to bring to life include the Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium, a garden party held at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, a floral and willow arch for a selfie station and a suspended garden for a special party.

Runners-up: Sadie’s Couture Floral; Indulge & Bloom

Best Restaurant with Private Dining Space 

Whether it’s a corporate meeting, company presentation, social celebration or any other type of special event, the staff at CRAVE understand the importance of providing an unforgettable experience to its guests and, ultimately, exceeds every expectation. CRAVE American Kitchen & Sushi Bar’s Shops at West End location features two completely private spaces seating up to 54 guests. The eatery’s Executive Rooms A and B can be combined to accommodate groups of up to 48 and divided for confidential meetings or breakout sessions for up to 24 guests each. With full or partial buyout options, planners can also utilize the restaurant’s Martini Lounge, Chef’s Table and spacious outdoor patio.

Runners up: The Bachelor Farmer; 112 Eatery

Muse Event Center

Best Meeting/Event Venue (No Hotel)

square feet of meeting space across 3 levels
1,100 guests can be accommodated reception-style
475 guests can be accommodated for a seated meal
165 events held at Muse in 2018

MNM+E: What are some of the most unique architectural elements of Muse Event Center?
: Muse has an open floor plan design with plenty of big, bright windows to bring in natural lighting. Our main ballroom also features grand 28-foot ceilings and our loft and mezzanine spaces on the second floor create a space for guests to look out over the event happenings below. The third-floor Club Room is the perfect area to host guests, volunteers, or members of the wedding party. On the lower level, our “behind the scenes” rooms include the Wedding Suite, which is a gorgeous space for the wedding party to get ready and our Green Room is a great getaway for live entertainment.

Runners-up: Machine Shop; Aria

Best Catering Company

MNM+E: How does CRAVE craft its new menu offerings?
: We update our menus annually and release a spring/summer and fall/ winter menu each year. As a team, we stay abreast of consumer trends locally and nationally and incorporate what we're seeing, tasting and learning about into our offerings. The Bang Bang Cauliflower Salad served over red quinoa, mini bao buns and smashed mini potatoes are some of our new menu favorites.

MNM+E: What’s coming up for CRAVE in 2019?
Going into 2019 we’re paying particular attention to ensure we’re offering plenty of options for our customers with dietary restrictions. We’re currently partnering with The Herviborous Butcher to create some delicious vegan options and we choose to make all of our sauces and dressings in-house so that we can offer them gluten free.

guests served over 4 days for Super Bowl LII (a record for the company)
5-5,000 guests can be accommodated at CRAVE events
1,200 events catered by CRAVE each year
30 Twin Cities venues work with CRAVE as a preferred caterer

Runners-up: D’Amico Catering; Chowgirls Killer Catering

Best Hotel with Meeting/Event Space (Less than 300 Guest Rooms) 

Built in 1910, the historic Saint Paul Hotel has been a local and national favorite for decades. The hotel’s not only a mainstay as a readers’ choice award-winner, but it’s also been named the Top Hotel in Minnesota by Travel + Leisure, landed a spot on the Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice list and more.

But what exactly makes this venue a go-to for events? “Our incredible staff is what keeps guests coming back. Regardless of position, they take pride in their work and guests often tell us that our staff treats them so well they feel like part of the hotel family. We’re even starting to see four generations of the same family host their weddings at the hotel and many of our larger groups feel it is their company’s hotel when they’re in town,” says Pete Zellmer, the hotel's director of sales. “We do offer 14,000 square feet of function space, have plenty of off-site catering venues that surround the hotel and provide great attention to detail for groups, but our staff hit it home. They do a great job at asking the right questions and providing impeccable follow-through to ensure all meetings and events are flawless.”

Runners-up: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel St. Paul Downtown; Hotel Ivy, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Minneapolis

Best Planning Company

MNM+E: What has Do Good Events been up to lately?
Do Good Events:
From launching our event staffing division, to hosting a Super Bowl party and helping to raise $5 million for our nonprofit partners, 2018 was a great year for Do Good Events and a year of amazing fundraisers. Our clients pushed the envelope with fashion shows, masquerade balls, flannel flings and a festival of lights and our events featured exciting themes, unique locations and a continued emphasis on the attendee experience. Our team also continues to grow and gain skills and insights on topics like event lingo and safety.

Runners-up: Event Lab; BeEvents

Best Speaker/Presenter

MNM+E: What should planners know about the National Speakers Association's Minnesota chapter?
To be a member of NSA-MN you must qualify—meaning you are truly a professional speaker (not just wishing, but doing). We’re a community of professional speakers who use our words to inspire, educate, and entertain audiences. We’re also committed to learning and growing so that we can offer each presentation the very best we have. We don’t do gigs. We create powerful, impactful and activational presentations. MNM+E: What types of events does NSA-MN typically work with? NSA-MN: We have 130 members who are all individual business owners so there are countless presentations done by NSA-MN speakers each year, but our members speak in every industry, organization, association and educational environment that you can think of. NSA-MN also does about 30 events and 10 academy classes a year for our members.

Runners-up: MinnesotaSpeakers.com; Élan Speakers Agency

Take note of these seven pros who are making their mark in the meetings and events industry. 

Jolene Ihle, Founder
Lifetime Achievement 

“I was 10 years old when I received my Muscular Dystrophy Carnival Kit in the mail. The box was filled with cool ideas and colorful materials to  support fundraising efforts. I was completely enthralled with the event planning process. … This experience was my jumpstart into events and I was hooked.”


Here's who has been crowned the winners and runners-up of the Minnesota Meetings + Events Best of 2020 readers' choice awards. Congratulations!  

Best Brewery/Cidery/Distillery/Winery with Event Space 
Surly Brewing Company 


Take note of these seven pros who are making their mark in the meetings and events industry. Colorado Meetings + Events is proud to introduce our 2020 Hall of Fame inductees, who are among the state's most creative, dedicated and passionate individuals. Our editorial advisory board, composed of 15 industry representatives from around the staste, nominated and selected this year's inductees for their commitment and unique contributions. Now in its 13th year, the Hall of Fame has 90 distinguished members.