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Issue link: http://digital.smallmarketmeetings.com/i/730815
www.smallmarketmeetings.com 32 Illinois Meeting Guide By Rachel Carter Courtesy Caterpillar Visitor Center Massive machines make for a unique banquet backdrop at Peoria's Caterpillar Visitor Center and Museum. A t almost any confer- ence venue, plan- ners can count on Wi-Fi and air walls and audio- visual compo- nents. But they and their attend- ees can't always tour two private floors of a his- toric mansion, stand next to a mining truck's 14-foot-tall tires, learn how to make stained glass or take a cruise down the Mississippi River. These one-of-a-kind Illinois venues provide all the amenities meetings need and deliver plenty of surpris- ing delights. C a t e r p i l l a r V i s i t o r C e n t e r a n d M u s e u m Caterpillar Visitor Center and Museum P e o r i a Peoria At the Caterpillar Visitor Center and Museum in Peoria, Illinois, guests watch a short film in the 797 Theater — located in the bed of a Cat 797F Mining Truck — where the seats rumble with the action on the screen. When the movie is over, visitors go downstairs and "stand in front of the mining truck and see how big it is — it's two and a half stories tall," said Susan Morton, Caterpillar guest relations manager. The visitor center opened in October 2012 on the banks of the Illinois River and houses a museum as well as function space. In addition to the 62-seat the- ater, groups of up to 104 can use the dining room and connected balconies for meals or seated events. The adjacent classroom accommodates 50 people, and a 16-person conference room is ideal for board meetings. An outdoor plaza with a lawn and an amphitheater could host "really cool events," Morton said. Up to 200 people can roam among Caterpillar equip- ment on the museum's show floor during a reception. The center changes out the equipment every June and, for the first time, in June 2017, it will put all of its his- toric Caterpillar equipment on display. Attendees can tour the museum at their leisure, or the center can arrange team-building scavenger hunts. It will also set up competitions at five simulator stations to see who can best operate an excavator or crawler (track-type) tractor — and who drives the bulldozer off the road. www.caterpillar.com/en/company/visitors- center.html C e l e b r a t i o n B e l l e Celebration Belle M o l i n e Moline In Moline, Illinois, there's a moving venue that deliv- ers ever-changing views — and maybe even a glimpse of bald eagles. It's the Celebration Belle, the largest non-gaming riv- erboat on the Upper Mississippi River, with room for 750 passengers on four decks. Two are enclosed and climate-controlled and two are outdoor observation decks, so planners have several options for on-board events, and "there's always a good view, no matter where you're sitting," said Susan Yarolem, sales and marketing manager for Celebration River Cruises. The ship can handle receptions for 750 people or banquets for 500 with 250 people on each of the enclosed decks including a stage and dance floor. The full-service boat features five bars, and all food is pre- pared on board in two galleys. The third deck wraps around the ship, and the fourth deck is open; both have outdoor seating. Both the lunch and sightseeing cruises include narra- tion by the captain as the ship travels past Rock Island Arsenal to Lock and Dam No. 15, the largest roller dam Only in Illinois