The staff of the Woodward Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) say they are working to schedule 125 events at the new Woodward Conference Center by the end of the year.

In the first 6 months since the conference center opened in March, the facility hosted 56 events serving an estimated 6,500 people, according to CVB Executive Director Jim Curtiss, who gave his report at the monthly meeting of the CVB board Thursday.

With another 20 events this month bringing in around 3,000 people, the totals will stand at 76 events and 9,500 people by the end of September.

With current confirmed bookings, the CVB is on track to host another 44 events in October, November and December.

CVB Event Coordinator Jennifer Newton said this will bring them to within just 5 events of "our final mind-blowing goal of 125 events in 2012."

What makes the number of events so "mind-blowing," she said, is because "that's not even for 12 months, that's just within 9 months."

It is also impressive because city officials had initially set a goal of hosting around 18 to 25 events in this first year, which "we have just blown by," Newton said.

In fact, if the CVB reaches its goal of 125 events for 2012, that will be 5 times what the original goal was set at.

But while booking up the facility for the rest of this year is exciting, Curtiss said he and other CVB staff also are focused on seeing that the facility is just as busy in the years to come.

As part of that, he said his staff is "looking for more repeat business."  He was referring to working with groups to establish multi-year agreements for those groups to utilize the conference center year after year.

These groups include the Oklahoma Horseshoe Pitchers Association and the Tri-State Oil and Gas Conference, which Curtiss said have booked dates at the facility as far out as 2017.  He said these groups have signed 5-year agreements because they were impressed with their experiences at the center earlier this year.

In addition to developing repeat business, CVB staff is also looking to bring in new events that maybe haven't ever been held in Woodward before.

For example, inspired by how well the state horseshoe pitching championships went over at the facility earlier this month, Newton recently attended a S.P.O.R.T.S. conference in Oklahoma City to develop contacts for bringing more sporting events to Woodward.

While she was only able to attend one day of the 3-day conference, Newton said she developed contacts with a variety of organizations including Game Day, USA Table Tennis, Youth Basketball of America, and Pop Warner, as well as the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association.

In talking with a representative from USA Table Tennis, Newton said she learned that Woodward would need a much larger facility before it would be able to host one of their national events.

"For USA Table Tennis to come here, we would need a 170,000 square foot facility," she said.  "But the guy did tell me about the NCTTA (National Collegiate Table Tennis Association) and said we could maybe host them here.  He gave me the name of someone with NCTTA and information to contact him to look into it more."

Another possibility she learned about while at the S.P.O.R.T.S. conference is Pop Warner youth football and youth cheerleading events.  Since her main goal is to fill up the conference center, Newton said she didn't focus much on the football aspect, but discovered that cheerleading events could be a good opportunity.

"Cheerleading competitions are huge, and we can have those in our facility," she said.  "We can also have dance competitions in our facility."

Newton is also hopeful to take the CVB's relationship with horseshoe pitching to the next level, namely by looking into bringing the world championship of horseshoe pitchers to Woodward.  This world event would have the potential to bring around 3,000 horseshoe pitchers and their families and other guests to Woodward over a 2 week period.

"Ardmore has had this event before, so I thought why not Woodward," she said.