Wednesday, May 18 2022

SHELDON—When Sheldon City Council approved the construction of the Crossroads Pavilion Event Center, the goal was to attract events to the city.

Although there are some venues to host events in Sheldon, the pavilion would be larger and have the flexibility to host a variety of events.

The pavilion opened in 2017 and five years later it serves the purpose for which it was intended and every year the number of events booked there grows and increases. Chief executive Tricia Meendering said there were 183 events at the Pavilion in 2021, a record for the young event centre.

She said the pavilion could surpass that figure this year with the number of events already booked for 2022.

Sheldon Community Development Manager Curt Struth said the pavilion was huge for the town.

“Since it opened, the number of events has continued to increase,” he said. “Even with the pandemic, they have remained stable. When we built the Pavilion, it was to make it a regional destination point, and we see for ourselves that this is the case.

The pavilion has an impact on tourism for Sheldon.

Those coming from out of town don’t just stop at the center of the event.

The Crossroads Travel Plaza is located just across the Interstate 18 and 60 interchange from the Pavilion and Jimmy John’s opened in this area a year ago. Scooter’s Coffee is a short drive to the Pavilion and Pizza Ranch, Chinese Chef, Taco John’s, and Sheldon Plaza, which has a McDonald’s, is located near the event center.

“The impact of food, fuel and accommodation on pavilion visitors has been critical,” Struth said. “We have seen records with our local option sales tax in consecutive years and it has to do with our amenities such as the event center.”

Weddings helped book more rooms at the nearby Holiday Inn Express & Suites on the west side of town. Another hotel chain plans to come out of the ground in 2022 and it would be located north of the Pavilion.

Cobblestone Inn & Suites, headquartered in Wisconsin, hopes to begin construction of a 40-room hotel soon.

“The pavilion has brought new business to this area,” Struth said. “It’s only because of the event center. Without it, it doesn’t happen. Scooter’s and Jimmy John’s don’t set up there if there’s no traffic. They bring a lot of traffic to this area every week.

The area around the pavilion will soon have a facelift. The Sheldon Recreational Trails Board plans to build a trail around the pond that is south of the lodge. The hope is to innovate later this year.

“We’re proud of the beautiful space inside, but the outside is just as beautiful. We’re really excited to add the addition around the pond and it will provide another amenity there,” Struth said. “While we bring in speakers, none of them left without commenting on the location and how great it is for Sheldon.”

While the pavilion has had an impact on tourism in Sheldon, it has also been a boon to those who live in the community when planning events.

Dustin Remme of Melissa Bohrer’s State Farm Insurance hosts an annual cornhole tournament at the lodge. The annual Ladies’ Night is held here. In 2021, the pavilion hosted its first-ever dinner theater and the events center is a popular place to host speakers. Nationally acclaimed author Jon Gordon filled the pavilion for a conference last spring.

These are just a few of the local events the Pavilion has hosted over the past year.

“Tricia and her staff have done a great job bringing things to the lodge for our community,” Struth said.

He added that the community benefited from having the pavilion.

“Local corporate events use it, there are graduations there, birthday parties,” Struth said. “We are proud of the partnership and the collaboration. Large partners can use it for events. Sheldon High School uses it for prom. Having a flexible space that can accommodate a large group is essential.

However, the Pavilion is not the only space that can host events. The Sheldon Community Services Center was the pre-pavilion venue. The downtown building houses the Sheldon Chamber and Development Corporation, City Hall, the Sheldon Police Department, the Sheldon Fire Co., and the Sheldon Community Ambulance Team.

It also has two large areas – one in the basement and one on the upper floor – for hosting gatherings.

The number of people renting space at the Sheldon Community Service Center has plummeted over the past two years, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The SCDC still hosts its monthly luncheons at the Sheldon Community Services Center and the Sheldon Recreation Trails Board hosts its Belgian Waffle fundraiser there. A recent public meeting for the Midwest Carbon Express carbon capture pipeline was held in the upstairs meeting room.

“We still get a number of degrees there. The Noon Kiwanis Club uses it, Dinner Date has used it before, and people use it for meeting rooms,” Struth said. “It’s just another asset for Sheldon and it gives us flexibility. To be honest, some people prefer the Community Service Center to the Pavilion.

“Having options is a good thing.”

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