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Grand opening of Event Center planned for May

The Worthington Event Center, shown Friday afternoon, is nearing completion. The first event will be a Grand Opening Gala on May 18. (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- As the city of Worthington opens its new Event Center, the first event will be grand.

On May 18, the city will host a Grand Opening Gala, featuring a catered meal and entertainment by three local bands.

"We want this to be a truly grand event," Chairperson of the Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitor's Bureau Amanda Walljasper-Tate said. "We are calling it the Event Center Grand Opening Gala. It's just going to be an awesome time. We have great music lined up and great food. It's just an important event for the whole community and people all around the area that want to see the new Event Center."

Tickets are on sale for the event at city hall, the Chamber of Commerce, Shafer's Health & Gifts and the Worthington Liquor Store.

"We want to be able to use that opportunity to showcase the facility to all people in the area who are interested in attending," Worthington Mayor Alan Oberloh said. "This is something Worthington has waited for, all the people who used the Coliseum when it was open and after that closed, they realized how much of a void it really left in the community. That's one of the reasons we asked to get this from the sales tax to try to fill that void that was left when a facility that could host an event of 400 people or more, which we never had."

The event is open to the public and will give people a chance to see what an event is like inside the new building.

"It's just something for the community and everybody to just kind of see this is what we've been building and what we've been up to and we want everybody to know what we have to offer to each individual, whether it's for business or each individual family," Sales and Events Manager Jackie Tentinger said. "It's just to kind of show them what the Event Center looks like, what the hotel has to offer and stuff like that."

The new Event Center will have seating for more than 500 people, and the group is hoping to fill the place for that night.

"The idea behind this facility is not to take anything away from any of the other places that provide those venues now for events," Oberloh said. "What we're trying to do is provide a place that will be able to house the type of event that we were losing to other communities and other areas because we didn't have large enough facilities to do it."

The gala will be catered by BenLee's.

"It's a local caterer, of course, and we felt that was important," Walljasper-Tate said. "BenLee's always does a top-notch, quality job. We put together a very special menu for it. There's going to be grill shrimp on a skewer, Monterrey chicken, baby red potatoes in olive oil, green beans and a chocolate mousse brownie. There will also be Hors d'oeuvres being served ahead of time during the social hour. It's going to be a very top-notch event. Everything is going to be very, very nice. It's going to be an event that people do not want to miss."

The social hour begins the night with Hors d'oeuvres and wine tasting from the liquor store. The dinner will begin at approximately 7 p.m. The entertainment will follow with music from Tommy Gunn, Sideline and Starfire.

"They are very familiar names around the area," Walljasper-Tate said. "They have all have large followings of their own. People travel great distances to watch these bands. The ticket price is very reasonable for the meal and entertainment. The bands are going to be a huge attraction and people are going to come from all around to be at the event.

"We have Starfire, which is the classic-type rock, the 50s and 60s. One of their players is in the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Tommy Gunn does a wide variety, some country, some rock and some newer stuff. And Sideline, again, plays all varieties. It's going to be fun music where people are going to be dancing. It should be a fun occasion."

And, to make the event even more grand, the committee is hoping for formal attire.

"We are calling it a formal event," Walljasper-Tate said. "For men, suits and ties for sure. Hopefully we'll see some tuxedos. For women, it can be anything from formal evening gowns to dresses. It's definitely a dress-up event. It's not a wear jeans type of a thing."

According to Tentinger, the center already has numerous events booked, including most of the weekends this summer, holiday parties and some events for next year.

But once the facility is complete and an event has already taken place, Tentinger is hoping even more events are booked.

"We're showing you this is what we can do and this is what we're good at," she said. "Our staff is going to be trained, the caterers are going to do wonderful. It's just going to be a way to show how everything comes together.

"I'm excited. It's our first event and it should be the first event, the city of Worthington welcoming everybody into its new facility because it is for the city and it is for the surrounding area. It's something that Worthington has been waiting for. It's going to be very exciting."

Daily Globe Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.