The first annual Body and Sol Women’s Expo drew over a thousand women together for two and a half days of high-energy networking and sharing of innovative ideas. The event was held at the Pascua Yaqui-owned Casino Del Sol Resort, Spa and Conference Center, the recent winner of a prestigious Four Diamond Award from AAA.
“This is our vision manifest—20 months of planning—and to see it in reality is fantastic,” said event co-founder Kellie Ing.
The expo was designed to connect women in their 30s to 70s “who embrace life and have the where with all to make a difference,” the expo website states.
“We organized the Body and Sol event because of how Tucson and the surrounding area seemed to be down on its luck as part of the slow economy,” said Ing. “We wanted to ignite the fire for local businesses, to celebrate the people, institutions, businesses, and natural attributes of the area and to raise the spirits of the people who live, work and play here. Think of the event as an adrenaline rush to sustain participants throughout the year.”
Seminars covered the gamut: financial health, fitness, keys for success, and there was even a session titled “Making Sense of the Man in Your Life.”
Many of the keynote speakers offered secrets to cope with life’s challenges, like Rhonda Bystry, author of a newspaper car-buying column. “Women usually have a fear of walking into a car dealership because of the negotiating involved, and truthfully, I’d rather have teeth pulled than go negotiate a car purchase. Women don’t have time for all the nonsense and game playing involved, so my advice is to do your homework and know what you want before you set foot in a showroom.”
Because this show was held on tribal property, sponsors donated a portion of event proceeds, as well as cash raised in a special auction, to benefit four local non-profit organizations including Pascua Yaqui non-profit efforts related to health and wellness.
“Although I travel around the world, I’ve never played in my own hometown on my own reservation for my own people,” Ayala said. “I’ve been campaigning for years saying that everything else is tribal preference except for the entertainment…and now that’s changed with this opportunity to be among my own people and showcase my talent.”
To hear more about the talented guitarist, read Indian Country Today Media Network’s A Conversation With Nammy Artist of the Year Gabriel Ayala.
Casino Del Sol Resort is housing a growing number of “firsts” including specialty events from musical entertainment to an International Mariachi Conference. “We’re getting a tremendous number of inquiries from Native American groups and programs around the country to do events here because we’re a Native American property and they want to support those types of institutions,” said Mark Birtha, president and chief development officer of Casino Del Sol Resort.
“All these firsts represent a developing pattern and a diversified client list,” said Birtha. “We built this facility to grow and expand the horizons of the marketplace and events like the annual Women’s Expo that will bring thousands of participants to the tribally-owned site is exactly the kind of vision we had in mind.”