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DNC a busy time for area event planner

Stacie Jacobs has juggled schedules, breakfasts, trips and road closings

By Alex Barinka
Staff Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. The Kentucky delegates leaving the Democratic National Convention may be the best-equipped to recover

As the curtain falls on Charlotte, those delegates depart the Queen City with their own Democratic National Convention recovery package – complete with PowerBar, muffin, orange juice, mini-bottle of vodka, Advil and sunglasses – thanks to event planner Stacie Jacobs.

The owner of EvanGrace Event Planning, Jacobs may need a recovery package herself, with Friday morning’s to-go breakfast for Kentucky marking her final event for the convention.

“That’ll be 30 events this week,” she said. “I’ve been really busy. It’s just event to event to event.”

Thursday morning, Jacobs, 37, was overseeing a breakfast at the Charlotte Marriott City Center’s third-floor banquet hall, with its army of round tables, napkin fans and place settings, for the delegation from Florida – her native state.

Jacobs, originally from Fort Walton Beach, Fla., now runs her business in Concord, she said between text messages to her staff. In addition to the Florida breakfast, EvanGrace was coordinating breakfasts for the Texas delegation at the Great Wolf Lodge and Kentucky at the Country Inn & Suites University Place Hotel that morning.

Keeping tabs on multiple events simultaneously, “I’m on the phone all the time,” she said. “I am not used to not being at all of the events. The control freak in me doesn’t like that very much, but my staff is really good and they can handle it.”

After eight years as a corporate event planner, Jacobs decided to launch her own shop. EvanGrace has been open for two years; Jacobs has been working on securing events to plan for the DNC for about half that time.

“I started making phone calls about a year ago,” she said. “I called on the executive directors and met with them for coffee or dinner and solicited their business.”

In addition to building her own contacts for the convention, Jacobs had some help from Judy Byrne Riley, a childhood mentor and Florida delegate at the 2008 DNC. Riley put her in touch with the Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith and Executive Director Scott Arceneaux.

“I was able to call them and set up meetings,” Jacobs said. “She connected me. That’s how the ball really got rolling.”

Jacobs ended up with the busiest week she has ever had, planning breakfasts, lunches, parties and daily entertainment.

Florida delegate Judy Terrill, 61, said Thursday she has been very pleased with how smoothly the Jacobs morning meals have run.

“I have just loved it. They are spoiling me,” Terrill said. “I don’t know what I am going to do when I get back home.”

One highlight for Jacobs was a NASCAR-themed trip she arranged for the Kentucky delegates: They visited the Richard Petty Driving Experience and had a private tour of Hendrick Motorsports.

In the race to the finish of the most event-packed week of her career, Jacobs says there have also been challenges not usual for the fundraisers, weddings and events for nonprofits and corporations EvanGrace has planned for in the past. The biggest has been transportation for the delegates between events with road closures and the moving of President Barack Obama’s speech from Bank of America Stadium to Time Warner Cable Arena.

While Jacobs says she probably could have squeezed in a couple more events after a few were cancelled, she saw the openings as “kind of a blessing.” She was able to see Bill Clinton speak at an Arkansas delegation event and at Time Warner Cable Arena Wednesday night.

“I want to take advantage of some of it – this only happens once in a lifetime,” she said.

As the DNC comes to a close for Jacobs with the to-go breakfast for the Kentucky delegates, she said she will be glad to get back to her children, Evan and Emily Grace, the namesakes of her company.

“I haven’t seen them all week,” she said. “I can’t wait until tomorrow.”

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