Although I've been a Walmart Mom for three years, this year was the first time I was able to attend the annual Walmart Shareholders Meeting. All I knew was to expect some high profile entertainment but beyond that, I was clueless. This annual meeting is open to all Walmart Shareholders. All Walmart associates (full or part-time) can participate in the stock purchase program and Walmart matches 15% of the stock purchase up to $1800 a year. Associates from Walmart stores across the country and around the world are elected to attend the meeting. This year 26 countries were represented and 1331 International Associates attended in addition to the associates from the U.S. Although the Shareholders meeting is the main event, there are activities all week long for the associates to enjoy.
On the morning of the meeting there was a palatable excitement in the air. You can see from the photo below that folks were representing and sitting together in colorful tee-shirts. Chants were called, it was amazing. I couldn't believe we were there for a meeting when the atmosphere felt like a sports event!
After experiencing it, I must say I wish every meeting I attended was like Walmart Shareholders. Business was certainly discussed but interspersed in the business were performances by some heavy hitters! Justin Timberlake was the host. He was extremely funny!
He introduced acts like Take 6 and Juanes and I was taken aback when Lionel Richie came on stage! I swear this man doesn't age!
With approximately 400 associates in attendance from Africa, it was only fitting that Lady Blacksmith Mambazo performed. I was awestruck, not only have a been a fan for years but I spent several years living in South Africa so seeing this group brought back fond memories for me!
Another big surprise was when Taylor Swift took the stage. She and Justin Timberlake had a comedic exchange - she acted like a random Walmart shopper and then she performed. Although my camera was able to take a great picture, she was literally 20 feet away from where we were seated!
The final act was Celine Dion. She is a total powerhouse and she ended the meeting on a high note!
On the following day, we attended the monthly Saturday morning meeting. It was so inspirational, they recognized a number of associates with 20 years plus at Walmart and my personal favorite highlight was when a Navy Seal spoke about the movie Act of Valor and his service in the military. It was so moving.
After the meeting we headed to Crystal Bridges, if you are EVER in Bentonville you absolutely must visit!
Crystal Bridges is a combination park and museum. We walked the grounds prior to the museum open and I hope on my next trip I will have the opportunity to run the trails. It is absolutely gorgeous. And the museum? It houses an extensive collection of artwork. I was happy to see works by Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence. The best part of the museum? It is absolutely free courtesy of the Walmart Foundation! There was a special exhibit showing that had a charge but it was only $5. This museum is on par with MOMA in New York and the High in Atlanta, except it is not all modern art. Loved it!
I think my favorite piece was Norman Rockwell's Rosie the Riverter. My grandmother was a Rosie so it holds a special place in my heart.
Overall, I had a great time at the Walmart Shareholders meeting and hopefully will be in attendance again next year!
Disclosure: I am a Walmart mom and all transportation, lodging and food was covered by Walmart on this trip. As usual, all opinions are my own.