Brookings beams with pride for not only the amenities we have, but also the people which make them great. This series “Three People You Should Know,” is to promote the great employees throughout the hospitality industry in Brookings.
Meet Christina Castillo, The Larson Family Endowed Director of the Oscar Larson Performing Arts Center (The Oscar). Originally from De Smet, SD she eventually went on to study at South Dakota State University (SDSU) and is a Communications Studies, Theatre and Dance alum. After graduation, Christina worked for Daktronics for 11 years in sales, marketing and events. Taking the skills gained from her previous experiences, she provides new insights to The Oscar.
She loves Brookings because of the excitement and culture surrounding the community. Christina says it’s a great place to raise a family as there are never ending opportunities and things to do, see and eat.
Christina believes her role at The Oscar is a full circle moment. She met her husband, met lifelong friends and had some of her best memories while studying the performing arts as a student. One reason she loves Brookings, SD: it has world-class performance spaces and entertainment. Christina’s favorite part of her job is the opportunity to work in the performing arts every day and work alongside of such wonderful individuals who have shared interests and passions.
Since starting her role, her outlook on hospitality has adjusted to include more of a focus on overall tourism and personalization of guest experiences for the wide range of guests and attendees who visit The Oscar.
Christina thinks there are so many hidden gems within the Oscar, but one that stands out is anyone can book their event at the facility. The Oscar can fit most events and can be requested by anyone in the community, region or state on their website: sdstate.edu/the-oscar.
Meet Cierra Steffensen, an Event Manager at the Dacotah Bank Center (formerly the Swiftel Center). After college she moved back home to Brookings. Cierra’s favorite part is the opportunity to grow in the community and to find out there is something for everyone here.
As an event manager at the Dacotah Bank Center, she loves the impact she and her team can have on people and their events. Cierra is often reminded she never has a typical work week with various events always coming in and out of the Dacotah Bank Center. She is constantly kept on her toes with all the different events she gets to work with including touring acts, meetings, cattle shows, and so many others.
Being in the event world has shown Cierra how many people it takes to make an event successful and her respect for those working in the industry has grown exponentially. Even with all the planning, events can be unpredictable, and she attributes having great hospitality and being able to manage unique situations calmly as skills important to anyone looking to work in this field.
Cierra’s tip is to follow Dacotah Bank Center online to see sneak peeks and information about upcoming events!
Meet Randall Spencer, Catering Director at SDSU Catering: Sodexo. Originally from North Carolina, Randall followed his two sons to South Dakota. He loves that Brookings is a friendly, welcoming community which reminds him of the southern hospitality he grew up in.
With more than 35 years in the food industry and owning his own catering business, transitioning to the Catering Director felt like the perfect fit. For Randall, every day looks a little different from preparing for a student event, planning a menu for the President’s Office, or working alongside Jerry Lohr (founder of J. Lohr Vineyard & Wines).
Randall saw from an early age how food brings people together and enjoys being able create an experience for others. Understanding hospitality and the food industry go hand in hand, he always tries to create a positive experience for all guests being served. Getting to work and interact with a diverse group of clients is one of the many perks of his position.
Randall is proud to work with SDSU Catering: Sodexo as they always try to exceed expectations, provide great quality food and extraordinary service to every event.