The first trade show to be held in the Deadwood Mountain Grand Event Center, the Spring Reinhart Food Show, featured vendor booths manned by more than 100 companies from across the nation, more than 700 registrants from a six state area, including Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, as well as plenty of locals involved in the food business. The show is designed to bring food brokers and their customers -- restaurants and eating establishments -- together, the process facilitated by the Reinhart sales force.
“What an economic shot in the arm for Deadwood,” said Lawrence County Commissioner Terry Weisenberg, as he exited the show. “This is a tremendous boost for the economy in what is historically the slowest month of the year. Many thanks to Reinhart Foods for pulling off this great event.”
Because the 98-room Deadwood Mountain Grand quickly filled to accommodate the event, several other hotels and other businesses in Deadwood benefited from the sharp influx of visitors over the weekend.
“This is a perfect example of achieving what we set out to do. Now, because we’re a full-service property, we’re able to offer trade show space and casinos and other businesses in town benefit, as well. Two hundred rooms filled in downtown Deadwood in April on a Sunday night is huge,” said Deadwood Mountain Grand Sales & Marketing Director Susan Kightlinger. “Filling this space during our shoulder season and having the economic benefits of the event spill over throughout town, the economic impact of these types of large-scale shows is truly felt. Bringing 1,000 extra people to Deadwood at this time of year is huge.”
Reinhart Division President Jim Sullivan said the decision to move the show to Deadwood from Rapid City was driven by the Deadwood Mountain Grand venue coming available.
“We’ve now got a large enough venue to hold this event in Deadwood,” Sullivan said. “It’s nice, cozy, unique. I think that the excitement, as much as we enjoyed having it in Rapid City, centered around trekking up to Deadwood. But now, being right here, the fun surrounds us. It’s a great facility and we thank the Deadwood Mountain Grand and the city of Deadwood for having us.”
Broker Pat Koch, general manager of Advantage Waypoint based out of Bismarck, North Dakota, said that the service provided to vendors at the Deadwood Mountain Grand was exceptional.
“It’s been awesome,” Koch said. “The people here have been very accommodating. The facility has function that fits right into our needs. They’ve given us help second to none. They went above and beyond to meet our needs. A lot of times you walk in to one of these shows and facility employees run for the exits – because we’re needy. Not so at Deadwood Mountain Grand. Not so.”
Reinhart Purchasing Director Julie Geary, who worked with Deadwood Mountain Grand to coordinate the show felt that the day was very successful.
“It was scary to change,” said Geary, who had worked on the show several years at its former location. “This is the first time it’s ever been in Deadwood, but it’s been great. The staff here was really, really good to work with. The gambling and other activities have given people something to do. I know that some people took the opportunity to use this weekend for a mini vacation. Our customers are thrilled with the location. They had a lot of fun at the reception, which was also a huge success. Our vendors like the number of people in attendance and the crowds.”
Deadwood Mountain Grand sales director Kristen Maynard said she felt great the day of the show.
“We’re very happy to have Reinhart as our first trade show and we look to do many more,” Maynard said.
Armond Schwandt, Regional Sales Manager, Food Service for H. Brookstone & Co. based out of Minneapolis said that because the Deadwood market is such a large one for the food industry, he felt that this year vendors were bringing the food show to the customer.
“When it was in Rapid City, everybody wanted to be in Deadwood, anyway,” said Schwandt, who took the opportunity to go trout fishing over the weekend. “It’s just so festive out here. You don’t just come here and sit around.”
Reinhart Division Sales Manager Kevin Derynck said that the initial reaction from Reinhart Food Service is that this is the best spring show the company has ever had.
“We’ve never had anyone voluntarily thank us for bringing the show to their location,” Derynck said. “But these guys – the Deadwood Mountain Grand – did. The month of April, first couple weeks of May are tough around here. We’re bringing in several hundred people when the local trade needs it most. The only negative was, the Grand couldn’t hold everyone, which actually turned into a positive for other properties in town.”
Reinhart Regional Sales Manager Gregg McDonald happened to celebrate his birthday during his stay in Deadwood – by bagging his turkey for the season.
“It’s a no-brainer. Because it was in Deadwood, there was an increase in customers who came and customers who are happy to be here,” McDonald said. “I can’t even count the number of customers who came extra days because it’s Deadwood.”
Jerry Schriver, owner of Millstone Restaurants, was one of those customers.
“I was one of Reinhart Food Service’s first customers out here and that was 25 to 30 years ago,” Schriver said. “This is the best food show I’ve been to other than Minnesota and Chicago. The facilities are fun and people here like to come to Deadwood. Last year 20 customers came on the Sioux Falls bus when it was in Rapid City. This year, a little over 50 came because it moved to Deadwood.”
“I hope Reinhart never moves it anywhere else,” said Ivor Sachs, director of sales for ISI International, a sea food broker based out of Seattle, Washington. “It’s the area, the history, the people. I think this town’s great. I’ve been coming to shows in the Black Hills for 18 years and this is by far the best atmosphere.”
Kightlinger said that there are more than 50 events currently booked in the event center through the remainder of the year including entertainment, meetings and the Grand Christmas Show, which will again play over the holidays.
“We want to do more,” Kightlinger said. “We want to have that space busy 365 days a year, if we can.”
The next large trade show headed for the Deadwood Mountain Grand Event Center floor is the Dakota Plains Auction & Gun Show during Wild Bill Days in June.