Midtown Events specializes in bringing the Triangle’s most innovative and eclectic events to North Hills. In this series installation, we’re talking with Midtown Events’ events & community relations manager Ashley Stallings about the North Hills Gives Back program, her signature “Kickin’ It Country” event, and how she helped create a perfect North Hills Christmas marriage proposal.
North Hills Live: How long have you been with Midtown Events and how has your role evolved? What are your current responsibilities?
Ashley Stallings: I have been with Midtown Events for three and a half years in a position that began as a Specialist and evolved into a Manager role. As the Events and Community Relations Manager I am responsible for planning and programming events, working closely with our non-profit partners, coordinating third party events, and representing Midtown Events and North Hills throughout the community. Although these are my primary roles, every day is an adventure. A position on the Midtown Events team requires you to wear many hats, which certainly keeps me on my toes and makes my job very exciting.
NHL: What is the impact of the North Hills Gives Back program on community and non-profit partners?
AS: Through the North Hills Gives Back program, Midtown Events has the ability to provide many of our community non-profit partners a promotional platform at events, on-site branding, the donation of space and equipment, and help with fundraising monetarily. We are grateful for the opportunity to help our partners share their missions and the impact they are having within the community with a large, diverse audience.
NHL: How did your personal/professional past influence your decision to join the Midtown Team?
AS: While I was in college I actually worked with Dawn, my now team lead, as both an intern and volunteer for the black-tie gala events she managed for the American Diabetes Association. The galas were very detail oriented and a lot to manage for a two-person team, but we worked well together and the events were successful. We stayed in-touch, and five years after working together for the ADA Dawn had a job opening at North Hills and thought I would be a good candidate. My previous position before joining the Midtown Events team focused on marketing, graphic design, and public relations. I enjoyed the work, but felt as though a desk job was not the best fit for me. I made the jump to a much more fast-paced career in events and have never looked back. It was the best decision I have ever made. I truly believe you do not know what your “dream job” is until you have it, and that is how I view my position with Midtown Events. It’s my absolute dream job.
NHL: How does your passion for outdoor and community events lend itself to your work at Midtown?
AS: I love working with non-profit community groups, being outdoors and meeting new people, making my position with Midtown Events ideal. What we are able to do here at North Hills is so very special. It’s not every day that your job gives you the ability to help create memories for people in your community. No matter how stressful or tiring event season may become, walking in to one of our events and seeing so many smiling faces or having event guests come up to me and share their experiences makes it worth every minute.
NHL: Do you have a personal “signature” Midtown event?
AS: Yes, my personal “signature” event is “Kickin’ It Country.” When I was given the opportunity to create an event concept, I immediately knew I was going to channel my eastern North Carolina roots and love for the country music genre to create an event different from anything on our event schedule. The two-day event, soon to be in its third year, combines a NC Pork Council Whole-Hog Series sanctioned barbecue cook-off where ten teams meet in Midtown Park to compete for the title of “Boss Hog” with a country music concert that rounds-off the celebration. The event has been very well received by our North Hills guests, and the 2016 cook-off was one of twenty events nominated for USAToday’s 10 Best BBQ Festivals.
NHL: What’s your favorite “Midtown Moment”?
AS: My favorite “Midtown Moment” was in November of 2015. I received a call from a gentleman interested in proposing to his girlfriend at North Hills that Sunday. He was from out of town and had to coordinate everything over the phone. At the time, North Hills was decorated for Christmas so of course I suggested that the perfect location would be the Christmas tree in the turf area of the Commons. The night of the proposal I arrived early in an effort to make sure the area was set. I picked up trash, arranged all of the chairs and tables correctly, and did anything else I could to make sure it was a picture-perfect scene. When the couple and their closest friends arrived, they sang and danced to “Marry You” by Bruno Mars creating a moment at North Hills that still gives me chills to think about. When I met the couple, I was welcomed with huge hugs from people who were complete strangers only a week before. It was such a special feeling to be able to contribute to a life-changing moment that will forever be remembered.
NHL: Do you work well with the rest of the Midtown Events team?
AS: Absolutely! The Midtown Events team, in my opinion, is made up of four different personalities that all fit perfectly together. We are more than just teammates in work environment, we are family. I am thankful for Dawn, Anna, and Arrington as I learn so much from each of them and value their encouragement and hard work towards the success of Midtown Events.
NHL: You were asked to submit your favorite event picture for this profile- what is the significance of the picture you chose?
AS: The picture I chose is from National Night Out. National Night Out is an opportunity for communities nationwide to promote police-community partnerships, crime prevention, safety awareness, and neighborhood camaraderie. Not only does this event give us the opportunity to create an event for families where everything involved from food and beverages to face painting and activities are free, but it also gives the community an opportunity to meet our local law and safety enforcement officials. We work so closely with various law and safety enforcement through our events that I consider many of them family. The men and women that make up our Police Department, Public Safety teams, and Fire Department are amazing people, and I value the opportunity to give the community a chance to meet them in a casual environment.