L.A. Weekender: Relax, dance and grub

Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone. A free Monday is now a thing of the past (until Labor Day!) While I’m sure many of you have been detoxing from a weekend of BBQ and beer, you might as well put the diet on hold for this weekend too because this itinerary is all about the food. (And music and movies… but really, the food.)

Keep reading to get the low-down on where to relax, dance and grub this weekend:

1. Back to the Future: Do Flashback Friday (Throwback Thursday is so last month) and head to Pershing Square for a free outdoor screening of Back to the Future. Grab a brew or two, then settle in for some DeLorean kicks.

2. Free tango lessons: While you’re in the area, you might as well swing by The Music Center Plaza for some free Argentine tango lessons. It might not be how you planned to spend your Friday night, but what’s life without a little deviation?

3. Free grilled cheese: If Burbank is your neighborhood you might want to book it to the grand opening of The Melt for some free grilled cheese this Saturday (12-6 p.m.) Check their Facebook page for details (including the secret password you’ll need for the free cheese.)

4. Santa Monica Festival: If Burbank is a little too deep in the valley for you, stick to the Westside and hit up Clover Park on Ocean Blvd for the Santa Monica Festival. The event captures the things that define L.A. including some live music, dancing, food trucks, cooking demos, fitness classes and art workshops. 

5. Sunday Funday: After two days of food, dance, movies and whatever else you managed to squeeze in, nothing sounds quite so nice as a lazy Sunday morning sleeping in and then searching for a good brunch (via ray at www.dresshead.com). If you’re in our neck of the city, McKinley’s Grille is offering their Champagne Brunch (I can attest to the delicious farm chilled ratatouille.)

5 Elements of a Successful Brainstorm

worldcafe5 5 Elements of a Successful Brainstorm A new approach to the traditional brainstorm

Sometimes brands struggle with “thinking outside the box.” Many times the problem lies in recycling the same ideas over and over–until you’ve run yourself into a brainstorming rut.

So where to start when bringing about innovation and inspiration? One part of that process is pulling different ideas from the company together in one place.

Enter the Visioning Workshop, inspired by World Cafe. Essentially, the World Cafe model brings people together in a casual setting and allows them to visually explore their ideas and create a work-flow that is diverse and productive.

Each company has a different dynamic. Some groups may not respond well to this type of setting. However, we found that despite the different backgrounds of our guests, everyone came together to form a most interesting final product.

Here are five elements that helped make our Visioning Workshop a success:

5 Elements of a Successful Brainstorm

1. The guest list: Mix it up

We invited employees from several departments, members of the Los Angeles County Fair Association (LACFA) board and leaders of the surrounding community together for some good old-fashioned brainstorming with a unique twist. The result? A (literally) colorful mish-mash of ideas for the future of Fairplex.

worldcafe 018 5 Elements of a Successful Brainstorm Our workshop took place at McKinley’s Farm, adding to the relaxed atmosphere

More diversity among guests brings more diversity in ideas and collaboration. People that wouldn’t ever discuss ideas or have a conversation during a normal work day are placed together specifically for that purpose.

2. Invite new ideas with a casual setting

worldcafe 001 225x300 5 Elements of a Successful Brainstorm We began our event with an al fresco lunch on our urban farm. Guests had the opportunity to try our summer seasonal menu, mingle with each other and relax after a morning spent at the office. Halfway through the meal guests were brief on future trends that would apply to our organization (demographics, industry, technology, transportation, education and our consumer and B2B clients.) 

By the time the brainstorming portion came up, guests had warmed up to each other, bellies were filled and thinking caps were on.

3. Gather content effectively
When you have 50+ brains at work it can be hard to accumulate everyone’s ideas. Have one person–typically the host–follow the pattern of ideas and strategies, taking notes and summarizing after each session.

Guests were grouped randomly and assigned to a certain table (4-6 people per table.) Our “hosts” manned each table, explained what their topic was and then let guests take the lead in the form of drawing, list making, debating and visioning.

worldcafe41 5 Elements of a Successful Brainstorm Visioning Workshop May 2013

After 15 minutes, groups dispersed and went to different tables (again, randomly) and delved into a new topic with new people. This process was repeated a total of three times. Some ideas carried from one table to another while others were built upon and expanded by the next group taking over.

worldcafe3 5 Elements of a Successful Brainstorm Visioning Workshop May 2013

Sorting the ideas in this way is easy and fun.

4. Let hierarchy die

Each table was divided randomly. A mixture of board members, company executives, managers and staff were brought together to come up with possible futures for Fairplex. No ideas were considered “bad” and each member at the table was encouraged to share their opinions, no consequences to follow.

5. Relax & enjoy

One of the best parts of the afternoon was seeing people enjoying themselves. They liked collaborating with other brains. They liked having a say in the next decade of an organization they care about. As I walked around each table, I picked up bits of conversation and plenty of unique and smart ideas that I would have never thought of by myself. Taking away the formality of a conference room and having team members literally draw out their ideas on the table brought an energy that was inspiring to see.

Further details on the World Cafe model can be found at theworldcafe.com

Event Industry News: Memorial Day Baseball, Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, Star Wars lands in New York

We hope everyone enjoyed their Memorial Day Weekend. Now we are back in business and ready to begin the new week (a day late icon smile Event Industry News: Memorial Day Baseball, Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, Star Wars lands in New York ).

Memorial Day Baseball: The Angels and Dodgers faced off in a freeway series on Monday, on Dodger turf. Both teams wore specially designed caps and jerseys with authentic military camouflage design to honor those who have fought for the United States. Memorial Day celebrations began with a moment of silence to remember the troops who sacrificed their lives in defending the country’s freedom. The ceremonial opening pitch by American hero Buzz Aldrin. Many other military heroes were honored before and during the game.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini Reveal: The Samsung Galaxy S4 is already the hottest phone on the market (and is the iPhone 5′s main competition.) There is a high possibility that Samsung will reveal the Galaxy S4 Mini during their product launch in London next month.

Star Wars geeks unite: Cartoon Network built a giant X-Wing fighter jet made entirely of Legos and plunked it into the middle of Times Square. 11 feet tall and 43 feet wide, the creation is a life-size replica of the Star Wars machine.

L.A. Weekender: Memorial Day Weekend

It’s time to kick off summer with a three-day weekend! We have a lot planned for you for Memorial Day Weekend in Los Angeles, whether you plan to spend it with your family, a significant other, your best friends or taking some down time by yourself!

tumblr mn1zmqEvtu1rfbjbuo1 500 L.A. Weekender: Memorial Day Weekend                                               Photo taken from choichristina

Start your weekend early with the family and pull them into a bit of L.A. culture. The Getty Center is conducting a free architecture tour in the morning. Learn all about the design and planning behind this beautiful museum. Meet the docent outside at the bench under the sycamore trees near the front entrance to the Museum. Afterwards, take the kids over to LACMA for Story Time in the Boone Children’s Gallery at 2 p.m. Finish up your day with a trip to the movies for the opening weekend of Epic.

Fiesta Hermosa is in full swing this weekend and it’s a perfect opportunity to hit the beach! Park for free at the Hermosa Beach Playhouse (or one of the parking structures closer to the pier) and browse through the jewelry, paintings, clothing and other vendor booths lining the streets. Live music, a kiddie carnival, drink and food specials and a view of the ocean completes an ideal Memorial Day Saturday of fun in the sun. After you’ve had a nap, hop on the 110 and enjoy the start of summer evenings at the Fleetwood Mac concert at the Hollywood Bowl.

Sunday: Switch up the usual American BBQ fare for something international at the Korean BBQ of Giant Proportions. Go to Susan Feniger’s STREET and indulge in Korean fare from Food Network chefs Susan Feniger and Kajsa Alger. Tuck in to Korean BBQ, a cold summertime sake punch and allow yourself to sink into a food coma… tomorrow is a holiday, after all. 

Monday: Live out the American tradition: Invite some friends and family over, pull out the BBQ, grill a few burgers and hot dogs and enjoy the California sunshine. Or if that’s not quite to your liking, head down to the beach, go for a hike or simply take a nap and embrace your Monday out of the office. 

While it’s easy to get caught up in the fun, sun and gorgeous weather, it’s important to also remember the true purpose of our federal holiday: remembering those who gave their lives while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Various Forest Lawn locations throughout L.A. County will be holding patriotic ceremonies to honor veterans.

If you would like, volunteer to place American flags on each grave site at national cemeteries. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.

Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend! I’m sure we will icon smile L.A. Weekender: Memorial Day Weekend

The World of Wine (INFOGRAPHIC)

The results are being processed. The wine has been sipped, swirled and spit out. The glasses have been cleaned and the judges have departed until next year. The 2013 Los Angeles International Wine Competition is over.

A total of 10,000 glasses were used and 3,200 bottles were opened during this year’s competition. Dive into the world of wine and check out the infographic below for more fun facts on what went down during the competition:

WineComp2013infographic The World of Wine (INFOGRAPHIC)

L.A. Spirits Competition 2013 Has Begun

Last week we gave you a peek into the 74th annual Los Angeles International Wine Competition. We haven’t slowed down one bit this week as we dive into the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition.

Held behind closed doors at the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel, hundreds of glasses are lined up and ready to be filled with a variety of spirits: gin, whiskey, vodka, tequila and rum for starters. The judges started sipping and spitting bright and early this morning with tequila and whiskey (not your typical breakfast fare.)

We’ll be covering the event here on our blog but be sure to check Instagram and Twitter for additional coverage:


Follow along: @lawinecomp


SpiritsLogo 2013 L.A. Spirits Competition 2013 Has Begun



Event Industry News: Billboard Music Awards, Event Tech, QSR trends, Tumblr

bruno mars performs c bbma 2013 650x430 Event Industry News: Billboard Music Awards, Event Tech, QSR trends, TumblrBruno Mars opens with newest hit “Treasure” (photo taken from Billboard)

Billboard Music Awards: The 2013 Billboard Music Awards was full of fun: confetti, balloons floating through the air, laughs, falls and flashing lights. With Tracy Morgan as host and a smooth flow of performances and award presentations, the night was an overall success. Selena Gomez, who performed at the L.A. County Fair in 2010, sang her latest hit and Carly Rae Jepsen from the 2012 Fair made an appearance on camera. Additional guests included Chris Brown, will.i.am., Justin Bieber, Nicki Manaj, David Guetta and winner of the Billboard Icon Award: Prince.

Event Tech Circus Winner: A few months ago we gave the heads up on Event Tech Circus, a new event conference bringing event organizers, tech companies and investors together. The Amsterdam-based event came to fruition this past week with all eyes on Conferize. The conference app was chosen as “best startup” out of the 13 companies that presented during the conference.

QSR: Square–the nifty credit card reader that allows customers to swipe their credit cards directly onto an iPhone, iPad or Android device might be entering the food industry in mass quantity. JStarbucks was one of the first QSRs to adapt the trend in late 2012. Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square is heading the initiative. A fixed 2.75 percent swipe fee is the only charge restaurant and food truck services need to worry about and eliminates the complications of additional fees from different banks.

Social media – Tumblr, meet Yahoo: Yahoo! has officially purchased popular blog site, Tumblr for $1.1 billion. While this means major bucks for the social media platform, a number of users are less than pleased about the transaction. Despite Yahoo!’s promise “not to screw it up,” the community is still wary.

L.A. Weekender: Hockey, crawfish, art and wine

It’s almost the weekend! We are wrapping up the Los Angeles International Wine Competition here at Fairplex and are getting ready for Food Truck Thursday, Preakness and our other weekend happenings. As for you, there is plenty to see, do and taste throughout all of Los Angeles…

Los Angeles Kings Hockey39 L.A. Weekender: Hockey, crawfish, art and wine Photo taken  from Examiner

Go Kings Go!: If you’re a hockey fan, you might want to start your weekend a little early and hightail it over to the Staples Center to see the L.A. Kings face off against the San Jose Sharks in the second round of playoffs. Whether you have nosebleed seats or the best seats in the arena, it’s sure to be loud, wild and tons of fun.

Dominick’s Annual Crawfish Boil: If you’ve had enough of L.A. fare (quinoa, kale, organic everything) and want to escape to the South for a couple hours, stop by Dominick’s Restaurant on Saturday for Chef Brandon Boudet’s annual Crawfish Boil. The New Orleans native will be cooking 300 lbs. of live crawfish (flown over from Louisiana) for your dining pleasure.

International Museum Night at LACMA: If you’re looking for something slightly less rowdy than a crawfish boil, check out International Museum Night at LACMA. The agenda includes a series of lectures (“LACMA Exhibitions Around the World,” “Classic Maya” and “The Art of Looking.” KCRW will also be on hand to spin some low-key tunes along with two tasting stations

CRUSH: End your weekend with some light wine and food tasting down in Santa Monica at the 18th St Arts Center. Down a cocktail or two and enjoy food from some of the best (or so they claim) that Los Angeles has to offer and spend an hour or two letting your inner foodie out.

And if all else fails… It looks like it will be a beautiful weekend, perfect for a walk in the park, a picnic on the beach or just relaxing with the family at home icon smile L.A. Weekender: Hockey, crawfish, art and wine

L.A. International Wine Competition: Day 2

wineroompano L.A. International Wine Competition: Day 2 Los Angeles International Wine Competition employees prepare the wine for our judges

The wine judging began yesterday morning and continues strong today. Anyone walking into the ballroom will be greeted with a whiff of wine… a lot of wine. The sound of clinking glasses and the scratching of judges’ pencils and the sight of plates heaped with generous amounts of cheese, grapes, crackers and other pairings completes the scene.

Here are a few photos we’ve taken from the competition:

wineglasses 300x300 L.A. International Wine Competition: Day 2

All lined up and ready to go

winetastingjudges 300x224 L.A. International Wine Competition: Day 2


dodgers1 225x300 L.A. International Wine Competition: Day 2

Reppin' Dodger blue in the judges room

The judges ended yesterday’s round with their own Table-to-Farm dinner out at McKinley’s Farm. Staying true to tradition, Chef David Teig prepared the feast right in front of the judges. A wide variety of foods was served, including a course of octopus. Vegetables, fruits and herbs were taken fresh from the farm (of course.)

Los Angeles International Wine Competition (TODAY!)

The 74th annual Los Angeles International Wine Competition kicks off today at the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel. As we speak, our esteemed panel of judges (coming from around the world) are being welcomed and and settling in for two days of sipping, swirling and spitting as they go through thousands of wine entries.

We’ll be covering the event here on our blog but be sure to check Instagram and Twitter for up-to-the-minute coverage:


Follow along: @lawinecomp


WineOnly Logo 2013 Color CMYK 228x300 Los Angeles International Wine Competition (TODAY!)