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51 West celebrates Grand Opening

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VENDORS: Joel Tatum of A&J's Christmas Cornerspeaks with Frankfort Main Street executive director Kim Stevens on Friday night in the 51 West Event Center. A&J's Christmas Corner was one of many local businesses showcased during the grand opening.
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RIBBON CUTTING: Dr. Jill Snyder, center, cuts the ribbon while posing for photos alongside family, friends and community leaders Friday night at the grand opening of the 51 West Event Center in downtown Frankfort.
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QUITE A SPREAD: Shoup’s Country Foods was among the local food vendors offering a taste of their business at the 51 West grand opening.

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

More than 200 people attended the grand opening of the 51 West Event Center to enjoy local food and small-business offerings while checking out the new venue Friday night in downtown Frankfort.

“We had a great time,” 51 West Event Center owner Dr. Jill Snyder said. “Friday night was fantastic. I was really pleased with the turnout, and I was able to talk to quite a few people. Our vendors brought in some really nice food, and all the vendors seemed to be real pleased with the crowd. They were selling things and talking to people. The ornament smash was a lot of fun. We decided new need to find a way to make it an annual event.”

Those who came with an appetite were able to indulge in food from Shoup’s Country Foods, Hoops and Bridy’s Bakery while a large assortments of local businesses had booths to peruse, including Pogue Design, Christmas Corner at A&J’s, Patchett N Pillion ... Partners N Pictures, Susie Blackmore Art, Art by Shawn Chambers, Cherri Flora Photography, Vickie Ritter Photography, Pampered Chef, Essential Bodywear, Petals and Leaves Water Color and The Leopard Cactus Boutique.

They were also able to see what Snyder has done to an old, downtown building that was a furniture store years before. It has since been transformed into an elegant event that hosts weddings, receptions, birthday parties, proms, corporate events and much more.

“This is a one-of-a-kind venue in Frankfort in our downtown,” Frankfort Mayor Chris McBarnes said. “I think it will offer something up to brides and individuals that are looking for a world-class reception area. And she can reach out and partner with local caterers, which makes it a win-win for small businesses.

“Jill has taken her own money and matched that with her belief in Frankfort and invested an extraordinary amount in our downtown,” he added. “Really, it has been private investments like this that have made projects like Prairie Creek Park and Nickle Plate Flats possible, so I want to thank her on behalf of the City of Frankfort. Now it is up for us to to support her.”

Those who visited enough of the local vendors and got their cards punched became eligible to win one of the many door prizes offered over the weekend by selecting a Christmas ornament to smash. The small piece of paper inside each ornament informed them of what they had won.

“We gave away free rental for the conference room and a free rental for the banquet room,” Snyder said. “We also had gifts from Pepe’s and (Frankfort) Main Street. Most of the vendors participated by giving a door prize.”

Early Friday night, event coordinator Tammy Woolems expressed her excitement for the grand opening after working hard alongside Snyder to prepare for the night.

“I think it is paying off,” Woolems said. “I think it is going to be a wonderful night, and I am so excited that we are going to be able to present this to Frankfort.”

The event resumed on Saturday, but the postponement of the annual Christmas parade from Saturday to Sunday due to a chance of storms likely reduced the number of visitors to 51 West on Saturday.

“I do feel like it affected Saturday because nothing was really going on downtown until later on in the evening,” Snyder said. “So, I think we probably would have had it just on Friday if we knew that would have happened. We still had people come, but the crowd was more spread out, which was nice because we were able to talk to everyone who came in.

“I think it is was a good way to introduce people to what we have available,” she added. “We had a lot of very positive feedback from people who had no idea that something like this existed in Frankfort. Now we are ready to start planning our next event.”

Those who are interested in booking an event at 51 West can find them on Facebook, email them at 51WestEvents@gmail.com or call 357-6272.

Snyder enjoyed her Christmas-season grand opening so much, that she now thinks she would like to host vendors and guests for a similar event around this time each year.

“The vendors want to do something again next year,” she said. “And we are looking at maybe having an event with a big band out of Lafayette sometime ion January or February. We are hoping to host a dance because, personally, I am really wanting to try out the dance floor.”