• 2016-2017 Best of Minnesota Recap

    POSTED April 20, 2017
  • 2016-2017 Best of Minnesota Recap

    POSTED April 20, 2017
  • 2016-2017 Best of Minnesota Recap

    POSTED April 20, 2017
  • 2016-2017 Best of Minnesota Recap

    POSTED April 20, 2017

The 15th Annual Best of Minnesota Meetings + Events readers’ choice awards welcomed meeting and events professionals to Solar Arts by Chowgirls on March 30 to honor this year’s best in the business. As the resident new guy (I started as assistant editor Monday of that same week) I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the local industry. I’m convinced the best way to acclimate to a new community is to dive right in, and during my first week, the Best Of awards provided the perfect opportunity to do just that.

Of course, diving into anything is always better with puppies, and thanks to Second Hand Hounds and Discover St. Louis Park—the event’s official puppy sponsor—an adorable pack was there to welcome attendees. (You read that right—we had a puppy sponsor!).

There was no shortage of delectable cuisine throughout the night courtesy of Chowgirls Killer Catering, including deliciously elegant sandwiches and salads, creative snacks and two bars—one for beverages, one for oysters. The former stocked beer from Indeed Brewing Company, conveniently located just two floors down from the venue.

After some time networking, complete with photo ops on the red carpet and in the photo booth, the event’s veteran MC John Cosgrove took the stage to get the ceremony rolling. Associate Publisher Anne DeWolfe and Morgan Halaska, who recently took over as managing editor for the magazine, also shared the stage before turning the podium back over to Cosgrove for the main event—announcing the big winners.

Six new Hall of Fame inductees were announced in addition to the honorees in each category. (Don't miss out on the full list of winners.) The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Becky Harris, vice president of Event Lab.

Speaking of Event Lab, the local industry force took home three awards of its own: Best Planning Company, Best Rental Service and Best Event Décor. As an official event partner, their award-winning décor was on full display all night. Grand View Lodge also was a multi-award winner, taking home Best Hotel with Meeting/Event Space (Less than 300 Guest Rooms) and Best Resort with Meeting/Event Space. While Event Lab set the tables, it was Mintahoe Catering & Events that was responsible for a dessert spread so jaw-droppingly decadent it needed its own room.

As the night came to a close, attendees (and puppies) started making their departure, whether their destination was home or the Taproom on the first floor. Good food, great people and a dazzling intro to the Minnesota meetings and events industry made it even more exciting to be the newest member of a vibrant community—the puppies were just an added bonus.

And I’m already looking forward to next year’s awards—not bad for my first week!

And make sure to check out all of the photos in case you missed out on the fun!

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 


Your meetings and events aren't confined to one place, so why should your bar be? Take your tap to go with a mobile bar at your next shindig.
Hitch & Sip
Hitch & Sip first opened its restored 1970s trailer in May 2018 and has been serving corporate happy hours, trade shows, client appreciation events and more ever since. The cash bar can be set up indoors or outdoors and is entirely customizable.