The Arkansas club transformed the banquet room into a Candyland-themed setting, complete with activities, decorations and refreshments that pay tribute to the classic board game.
Our 13th Annual Ideas Issue once again highlights creative concepts that are helping clubs engage members and enhance their operations on a year-round basis.
To ward off the post-holiday blues and intrigue both membership and staff during a slower time of year, Fayetteville (Ark.) Country Club catered to its youngest clientele by turning banquet-room space into a sugary wonderland this past January.
“Our aim was to keep members engaged during the off-season, and while we host a great many family events throughout the year, we don’t do many that are 100 percent geared to the children,” explains General Manager John Spies, MBA, CCM. “This was set up entirely for them.”
Led by a team of creative staffers that included Clubhouse Manager Peter Donovan, the Candyland event was part of a family-style buffet available to members at no extra charge. Planning entailed taking a closer look at the iconic Candyland gameboard and recreating key elements of the classic board game in a three-dimensional, engaging format. Relying upon re-purposed thrift store finds and craft store supplies, the club’s banquet space was magically transformed into a feast for the eyes.
After dining on a buffet of chicken fingers, mac and cheese and tater tots, children were ushered over to the ballroom entrance, which had been closed off to prying eyes. Once the doors were opened, guests were treated to a balloon drop and a colorful light show while the sounds of Sammy Davis Jr.’s “Candyman” echoed throughout. Staff dressed as Candyland characters, such as Grandma Nutt and Lolly, greeted guests as they entered the banquet room.
Eyes were then immediately drawn to a life-sized construction paper gameboard, which served as a trail designed to lead guests on a parade of endless sweets. Pool noodles were fashioned into lollipops, while beach balls and plastic plates wrapped in cellophane instantly became gumdrops.
Stripped-down Christmas trees and garlands were given new life as the Peppermint Forest and Lollipop Woods, and a chocolate fountain morphed into the game’s famous Chocolate Mountains.
To keep kids moving around the gameboard, a variety of stations were set up for easy access. They included a snow-cone machine serving as the Snowcone Sea; a gingerbread decorating station; a floor-sized game of inflatable Twister, and a pie walk that featured delectable desserts as prizes, courtesy of the family business of Fayetteville CC’s Golf Pro, Bill Adler, PGA.
With approximately 80 buffet guests and an additional 40 children in attendance, the Candyland event proved to be a successful first-time program. “We had several members literally begging us to have this event again—so we will, of course, oblige,” says Spies.
Since neither the candy nor the decorations were costly, and with dinner having yielded a profit, the club is ready for a second helping of this sweet retreat. “We accomplished our goal of having a large group of members utilize their club during the winter, when we tend to lose touch,” Spies adds.
The Goal: Keep the membership of Fayetteville CC engaged during the offseason with a family-friendly event.
The Plan: Transform the banquet room into a Candyland-themed setting, complete with activities, decorations and refreshments that pay tribute to the classic board game.
The Payoff: A successful event that included the entire family and led to several members “begging” for the club to repeat the program.