This has been quite a year for Riverbanks Zoo & Garden’s Events and Hospitality team.
In 2019, we had the honor of hosting over 280 private events in our Columbia, South Carolina event venue, with a total of 34,886 guests. While we host several varieties of events, our year looked a little like this…
- 55 Weddings
- 61 Corporate Meetings
- 35 Corporate Picnics
- 23 Corporate Receptions
- 30 Holiday Parties
- 37 Kids Birthday Parties
New in private events at the Zoo
Being one of the top Zoos in the country means that we’re always growing and changing. Here are a few of the new things we welcomed in 2019:
- This spring we opened our all-new Farmyard, offering a bigger and better farm experience for guests of all ages. The new Farmyard features up-close encounters, an interactive walk-in yard, play structures for kids, climbing structures for our kid goats, and plenty of hands-on family fun!
- We continued working towards our mission to impact conservation. We are actively changing out all single-use plastic for compostable or recyclable options. We are proud to say we will reach that goal by the end of 2019! We’re also incorporating Zero-Waste stations in all of our venues to make recycling and composting that much easier for our event guests.
- We bid a bittersweet farewell to Belle, our 37-year-old African elephant. Belle moved to Milwaukee County Zoo and is enjoying her new home and slowly meeting her new herd. Following Belle’s departure, Riverbanks plans to re-introduce and breed Southern white rhinos. The Southern white rhino exhibit is slated to open in the summer of 2020.
- Riverbanks became home to 36 coral colonies that have been rescued from the Florida Reef Tract (FRT), the third-largest reef tract in the world, where an unidentified disease is causing critical coral loss. The rescue project is two-fold: 1) to prevent extinction along the FRT, and 2) to maintain as much genetic diversity as possible in preparation for restoration and possible future habitat disturbances.
New Events Team Members in Weddings and Venues, Sales and Catering
This year we promoted and welcomed some exceptional folks to our team!
- Amanda (Leszczyszyn) Grimsley was promoted to Wedding Sales & Venue Coordination. Amanda has been a member of our Sales team since 2016 and continues to show a true appreciation for all events while ensuring each and every client she works with has an enjoyable experience.
- We welcomed two new faces to our Sales Team: Kate Freeman and Brittany Buckner. Kate joined the team in February, overseeing Corporate Event Sales and Brittany joined our team in October, overseeing Private Event Coordination.
- We also welcomed Holly Gerow to our Catering Team as our Assistant Catering Manager. Deanna Davison will be joining our team later this month as our Catering Manager. Combined, both of these ladies bring with them over 27 years of catering experience!
Private Event Highlights from the Year – Employee Dinners, Holiday Parties, Plated Dinners
We truly enjoyed working with each and every client on their event. While we’d love to share the excitement of each event, here are a few highlights:
- We hosted our largest holiday party this year, totaling just over 625 guests! This group went with a heavy hors d’oeuvres/stations menu, so their guests could flow in and out of the venue and explore Lights Before Christmas on their own time. They also added an outdoor fire pit to roast s’mores, which was a fun treat for their guests!
- We also had the pleasure of hosting our largest plated event, which took place in the Safari Camp – our sheltered pavilion located in the heart of the Zoo. The lunch was for 285 guests and their custom plated menu included London Broil and Chicken Saltimbocca. YUM!
- We had a great time working on a fun employee dinner for a local HVAC company. These folks truly went all out and enhanced their event by including visits from a few of Riverbanks’ mascots, giraffe feeding, face painting and tons of food. We hear their guests were raving about this unique event for weeks and we’re so glad we had the chance to be a part of it!
While we enjoy looking back on this great year, we’re also looking forward to what 2020 brings! If you’re interested in booking your Columbia, South Carolina event with us next year, you may contact us at (803) 602-0900 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.