By Angela Williams, Army Flier Staff WriterMarch 15, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Mar. 15, 2012) -- From as close as Coffee County and as far away as Orlando, 49 vendors made their way to Fort Rucker to promote vacation destinations during the 24th annual travel extravaganza held March 7 at The Landing.
More than 960 people attended the three-hour event, said Heather Linnell, a travel clerk for Leisure Travel Services.
"We had an awesome crowd," said Kristen Hartwell, Leisure Travel Services program manager. "It was the best show we've ever had."
About 80 door prizes were given out during the show -- more than one prize every 15 minutes. Patricia Shelton, an employee of Erica Lane Enterprise, won a two-night hotel stay with breakfast. Shelton said she was excited about the prize and thanked the leisure travel staff.
Linnell and Hartwell were quick to deflect the praise, saying the prize drawings were completely random. "We collected all the prizes, but then we passed it on. Our hands weren't in it at all," Hartwell said.
This year, a number of vendors returned to the show after having displays last year, but a few, such as Medieval Times and the Inside CNN Studio Tour were first-time visitors, said Linnell.
Kathy Isaacs, the Medieval Times representative, said the show was "fabulous." About an hour into the show, she was already concerned about having enough brochures to last through the end of the event.
Her concern was shared by several other vendors. Linnell said the leisure travel staff had to make copies for several vendors who had run out of the material they brought with them.
Sherry Rushing was at the show representing Northwest Florida's Emerald Coast, an area including Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island. She was especially excited to tell people about Buccaneer Pirate Cruises, a new attraction in the Destin area.
"We've had a great turnout," Rushing said of the show.
Peggy Clinansmith, whose husband is retired military, browsed the brochures at the Emerald Coast table and chatted with Rushing about the Silver Sands outlets in Destin. Clinansmith said she attended the travel show because she likes going places and was always looking for day trip ideas.
Ginny Canon and Harriett Patterson had plenty of ideas for day trips at their table. They were there representing the Coffee County Arts Alliance. They passed out information about the Piney Woods Arts Festival, coming up March 24-25, and asked people to sign up to receive information about the alliance's events for the 2012-2013 season.
Overall, the vendors were very happy with the show, said Hartwell.
"It went very well. We didn't hear any negative," added Charlotte Allen, a travel clerk in the Leisure Travel office.
Hartwell said the staff is already making plans for next year's travel extravaganza, slated for the beginning of March. She said the travel office had received a few surveys from vendors, but that most of the vendors would return the surveys by mail.
"Bigger, better, more vendors," she said of her hopes for next year's show. "That's always our goal."
Leisure Travel Services is in Rm. 130 on the ground floor of the Soldier Service center, Bldg. 5700. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. For more information, call (334) 255-2997 or 334-255-9517.