• A Slice of Rochester Pie

     
    FROM THE Summer 2022 ISSUE
     
    Photo credit: William Forsman Photography

Bill Von Bank, vice president of marketing and communications for Experience Rochester Minnesota Convention & Visitors Bureau and Mayo Civic Center, knows how to make a luscious pie. On summer and fall weekends, he travels to Minnesota farmers markets as Bill the Pie Guy, selling his homemade apple, blueberry, mixed berry, strawberry, rhubarb, peach, and pecan pies to hungry marketgoers—and donating the profits to hunger-relief organizations. 

But when you reach him by phone, he seems much more comfortable talking about why Rochester is such a great city for meetings and events rather than talking about his personal details. It is easy to see why he is so enthusiastic about the city.

“Rochester offers a healthy dose of Midwest charm,” Von Bank says. “We’re conveniently located within the Upper Midwest, so it really does allow us to be a great site for regional meetings, events, and conventions.” 

In 2017, the Mayo Civic Center completed an $84 million expansion in Rochester, which gave the city considerably more space for events. The civic center now has more than 200,000 square feet of convention space and one of the largest ballrooms in Minnesota at 40,000 square feet.

The native Minnesotan, who grew up on a hobby farm near New Prague, has much more to say about what makes Rochester special. “There’s so much history to explore throughout the city, due in large part to the Mayo brothers,” he says. “There’s a great history tour by the Rochester Trolley and Tour Co. that I would recommend to anybody coming to town. Also, I’m really impressed with the craft beer scene in Rochester. In 2012, there was just one brewery. Now, there are five proving their worth as destination breweries.”

But what about the winters? Not a problem, Von Bank says. “The skyway that connects to Mayo Civic Center also connects to more than 2,000 hotel rooms downtown. And the skyways are climate-controlled. We also have a pedestrian subway system underneath Mayo Clinic and some of the hotels. So, there are ways to get around without having to go outside in the dead of winter.” 

To learn more about Rochester, check out Von Bank’s Growing Destinations podcast (growingdestinations.com). And if you run into him at a farmers market this summer or fall, get yourself a pie.

Minnesota offers vibrant autumn color and provides a kaleidoscopic backdrop for your event.

New England often gets the most credit for its spectacular fall color, but many rank Minnesota in the top tier for seasonal beauty, making fall an ideal time for meetings anywhere in the state. From the North Shore of Lake Superior to the Twin Cities and Rochester, there are a variety of venues with ideal seasonal settings that can cater to groups of all sizes. 

Duluth

 

Sleek and modern amenities relax hotel guests at the Radisson Blu Mall of America in Bloomington. Attached to the mall via skybridge, the hotel is home to 500 guest rooms, a pool, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and extensive event space. Shuttles are available to and from the airport. 

 

Hilton Worldwide’s 2021 Brand Awards & Recognition program honored the Hilton Rochester Mayo Clinic Area Hotel as the No. 1 Hilton Hotel in North America and awarded the property the Connie Award in the category of 500 guest rooms or less. 

The Connie Award, which is the highest award granted by Hilton Worldwide, highlights the “best of the best” of every facet of the Hilton portfolio based on the combined ranking of overall experience, service, quality assurance audits, brand standard compliance, hotel condition, cleanliness, and property accommodations.