Armed with ideas to reinvigorate the Bassett Train Station Event Center, Aubree Bowman recently took the reins as its event manager.
A Patrick County native, Bowman, who began the position on Nov. 1, is a local business owner in Martinsville.
“I am an entrepreneur, a business owner, I own a couple businesses here in Martinsville. Space Buffalo Apparel, we’re next to Skip’s Uptown, and also Old Stone Kennel, we’re nationwide, we’re in all 50 states and two different countries, which is pretty cool,” she said.
But in addition to businesses, event planning has always been a passion. She has helped plan events for various companies and organizations.
“I have always loved event design. I work for Sweet Oak Events sometimes, helping execute weddings and things of that nature,” Bowman said. “So, when this kind of came available, I jumped on it because I love event planning, event execution, all of those things.”
Bowman’s position at the event center has her wearing many different hats. She also is responsible for several different jobs.
“I book events, I plan events. Sort of like an all over coordinator,” she said. “I have to book out the dates, but also, I need to execute what this space is best designed for, so weddings, corporate parties, things like that.
“Trying to get community events together so people can come in here. A lot of the stuff I do is behind the scenes. I have to decorate, I have to make sure the clients are happy, I have to come and open for them and show them where things are, make sure that their day goes as smooth as possible,” she said, adding that she also does “a lot of cleaning.”
Already, Bowman has many big plans for events, including a Bridal Open House to showcase the wedding potential of the space.
That event would allow “brides come in, showcase the space, to see exactly how it could be if they were having a wedding here,” Bowman said. Planning and executing the event entails a number of things, such as “getting florists, caterers, all the different vendors that you would use during a wedding” and getting them set up “here to show you exactly what a walkthrough wedding would look like, including brides in dresses and things like that.”
She also is looking at a variety of festivals, such as craft festivals and a moonshine festival, and a high-end bingo event in which the center partners with the Boys and Girls Club. Potential prizes would be Louis Vuitton bags and other high-end wares.
While every new job has its challenges, Bowman says the transition into her new position has been fairly easy.
“I think with any new job, there’s always a transition period. I wouldn’t say I’ve met with a lot of difficult pieces. I think everyone has been really, really great about everything, honestly,” she said. “I think, just because this is such a fresh space, you know we had to deal with COVID. The train station was renovated and then COVID hit, so we had two years of not a lot of events being able to be put on here. So, we are really kind of in the infancy of what this could be.”
Bowman said that offers a fresh palate for her to work with, and she has big goals to ensure the space is used in creative and exciting ways.
“To get every weekend booked would be great. To do some community outreach and get some of the community in the door that haven’t been in here, and want to see this space and figure out ways that we can utilize it in creative ways” are among her goals, she said.
Her creative ideas include shows from local school theatre departments, a Polar Express event for youngsters, art exhibitions, and more.
“This space that’s a blank space, really, it’s a blank canvas for anything you want it to be,” she said.
But her biggest goal is to offer the community the kinds of events it wants.
“Working with the community is my main goal, to make sure we’re doing things here that they want to see. Because, you know, this place, it has been such a community staple with the farmer’s markets and things that they did prior to the renovations, so I want to see this place utilized for those things as well,” Bowman said.
She is thrilled about the upcoming events and is thankful for all those she has worked with already.
“Some of the most amazing pieces have been the people we get to work with,” Bowman said. “This community’s been amazing, they’ve given me a ton of feedback on what they want to see here, which is helpful, and across the street we have Railway (Café) which is amazing. And I’ve been able to partner with all these little businesses in the area and kind of get together in the Spring to do these events.”