Back in 2007 when planning began for Baltimore on the Prairie - my, that seems like such a long time ago - one of the many and major decisions to be made was the location for the conference. It needed to be easily accessible, close to a major airport, have lodging and conference facilities, a restaurant or some sort of food service, be comfortable, affordable and have some sort of ambiance as opposed to an airport hotel conference center. If a location could be found within a 2 hour driving distance, that would be an additional bonus for me as administrator. And the search was on! After many phone calls, hours spent Googling, a simple conversation with a friend resulted in the perfect location for Baltimore on the Prairie - Mahoney State Park in Ashland, NE.
This beautiful park is located midway between Omaha and Lincoln, NE (30 miles each direction) right off I-80 so it is very accessible. There may be some debate whether Eppley Field in Omaha qualifies as a major airport but Southwest Airlines (2 bags fly free) does fly there so it counts! Unless desired, a rental car would not be needed as a shuttle service is available to and from the airport to the Park. And as the bonus, is only a 95 minute drive straight north of where I live!
The Peter Kiewit Lodge sits high on a bluff overlooking the Platte River which provides beautiful views of the picturesque valley.
This conference is very convenient with hotel and conference rooms, along with the restaurant all being located in the Lodge. The entire Lodge is handicap accessible with barrier-free hotel rooms available. The Lodge has 3 levels and yes, there is an elevator.
Some of the hotel rooms boast balconies
where one can sit, have a morning cup of coffee (or not) and view spectacular sunrises of the Platte River valley.
The lobby, along with the rest of the Lodge is very open and welcoming.
"Old Glory" can be seen for miles before one even gets to the Park.
Wildlife abounds at the Park.
It's common to see wild turkeys patrolling the area and sometimes a hen turkey will be followed by several turkey chicks.
These feeders are located right outside the restaurant and yes, the turkeys raid the bird feeders. Hummingbirds are also regular guests at their feeders and on occasion deer can be spotted at twilight in the Park.
The size of the conference rooms can be adjusted to accommodate the number of students per class. There won't be more than 2 students per table and will have as much elbow room as possible.
Of course, quilters will use all space afforded to them!
And even the floor!!
Evening group events are held in the large meeting room where even the rafters are put to use for a small quilt show.
Parker's Smokehouse, a Lincoln, NE favorite, assumed responsibility for the restaurant and catering in 2012 at the Lodge. Emily and her staff are fantastic to work with and no one should go away hungry. Most of the meals are buffets just for our group with choices to please everyone and some meals are plated individually. Of course it goes without saying that desserts top off lunch and dinner.
Theoretically one could arrive on Tuesday and not leave the building until Sunday however, one can certainly take advantage of the paved and unpaved trails throughout the Park. A small stream meanders through the Park which is beautifully landscaped.
Even with last year's hot, dry summer, flowers were still abundant at the Park.
There is a small group of appliquers who meet early each morning to walk to the Park's 70 foot tall Observation Tower and climb to the top.
Photo courtesy of Google Images
While there are a lot of steps, the views are breathtaking.
Since Mahoney State Park is a state park, the room fees are less than comparable fees at a conference style hotel. While some amenities are absent from a Hyatt or Hilton type hotel, the hotel rooms are spacious and comfortable. Internet service is available at no extra charge in the Lodge and free coffee is available first thing in the morning in the lobby. The fee for the conference is all inclusive meaning that the cost of classes, meals and lodging is wrapped up in one registration cost. Other than shopping with our vendor or with the teachers, one does not need to carry money with them during the conference. It's a wonderful feeling not to have to carry a purse around! Even if you want to keep a little cash handy, the name badge holders that are provided have a little pocket to hold your room key and a little cash or credit card. We try to cover all the bases! Several fee packages are available to choose from depending on occupancy and whether you are interested in the one day or four day classes or both. The registration form can be viewed here http://www.baltimoreontheprairie.tresajones.com/regform.pdf.
Last but not least I want to mention the wonderful staff at Mahoney. Ginny, Adam, Eunice and everyone else in the Group Functions Office are a dream to work with. They are so accommodating with the needs of the conference and are always smiling and pleasant. I can't imagine working with any other staff.
We still have spots available in most classes for 2012. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for availability.
That's it for this month!