Friday, May 23, 2014

Follow Friday - Family History Expo - 2015? Maybe - Maybe Not

Editor's note: Today's post was written by Sandra Gardner-Benward  (opinions are the authors not the organization)

This is my third year of attending the Family History Expo Sacramento, held at the Crowne Hotel along I-80 & Madison Ave. Only Charlene, Marilyn & Sandi representing Root Cellar SGS.

The first year we were all very excited about this event. Many Root Cellar SGS members attended. How do I know (besides knowing the members)? We were all wearing our navy Root Cellar SGS t-shirts. AND we were wearing them proudly. Most of us were wearing our name badges & swingers and carrying our Root Cellar Tote Bags. Yes we were a force to be reckoned with.

Pros & Cons from the First Year: 
The rooms were not regulated and most were cold, but that is something that happens at all conferences.

The service at the restaurant in the hotel was extremely bad. Not enough staff. Some people waited after they ordered for almost the entire hour waiting for their food and some waited half that time just to order their food. A lot of people gave up and got nothing to eat. They did have a lunch buffet ready the second day but after the first day of problems most made other plans. Some left and went to surrounding restaurants. Not good. The hotel was not prepared and it was very disappointing.

There were plenty of vendors around the floor. Some genealogy and historical society's had tables also. The book vendor (a familiar family business) was also available. They took up quite a bit of room in the main seating area.  And since they were right in the open area there had to be someone with their books at all times.

Several of the presenters gave their presentation around their own business. Very commercialized, very disappointing.

Because of the commercialism and the food debacle a lot of attendees were put off,  AND did not return the next year. It showed in the attendance for the next year, which was too bad because they did a lot of the problems worked out.

People who returned the second year were pleasantly surprised that a dinner buffet was set up and a lunch buffet for the following day each for $10.

I did notice that there were not many genealogy or historical society's visible. Only a handful of Root Cellar SGS members (including me). That was disappointing. I wanted to see a sea of blue Root Cellar SGS t-shirts.

Vendors were again good and different than the first year. I remember buying a number of specialized books. The same book vendor was there but they were being housed in its own room so the doors could be locked at times. YES I broke down and bought my Flip Pal. Love Love it!!

My experience the first year was not good but I wanted to be fair and so I came back the next year. I am glad I did. Meals were better, areas for resting, meeting with friends and sharing area. some classes were still commercialized and so I avoided them. And as I said attendance was down.

I won a top prize worth $500 in professional research with Arlene Eakle, PhD........... she is President and founder of The Genealogical Institute, Inc. Dr Eakle is a professional genealogist with more than 30 years' experience in research, consulting, lecturing, and writing. An expert in tracing families from New York, Southern US, British Isles, Switzerland and parts of Germany, she claims a 96% success rate. --- So I am trying to get my 'stuff' together to take advantage of her expertise. YIPPPPEY!!!

THIS year, earlier this month, the Family History Expo was in town - two days as usual. Yes I signed up and hoped for the best.  Well the first thing, there were only 3 Root Cellar SGS members in attendance - Marilyn Ulbricht, Charlene Eberwine, & Sandi Benward (me).......  no one else. Where were you? Very disappointing. Attendance was really noticeable down. I believe it all steams from the disappointing first year. Holly Hansen, President, was concerned by the lack of interest and would be talking to people over this year - hoping that the organizations in this town will help in the publicizing of the event and get people out. So we will see if they will be back or not.

No book vendor this year........ other vendors were available - Backblaze and FamilySearch, Writemeaning, The Genealogical Institute, ArkivDigital, plus Ask the Pros just to name a few. No genealogical or historical society's were represented including the Genealogical and Historical Council of Sacramento Valley. Now that is just sad. Even a freebie table would have been acceptable rather than nothing.

It is a fairly small place but it was spread out over the fist floor and it would have been nice to have had a map of the area - where the rooms are located, restrooms, vendors etc. It would have been helpful. (they had them in years past)

Classes were much better this year- varied & other presenters. We all really enjoyed the classes we took from both days. A lot of good information and ideas. Information that I will be using in my research this year. All three of us were very happy with the entire conference this year. Great dinner & lunch buffets. If you purchased a paper copy of the syllabus you really got your monies worth......  it includes all the handouts for the 2014 Sacramento Conference but also from the South Dakota Conference 2014, the Wyoming Conference 2014 and the Nebraska Conference 2014......... (this is also true from past years)

Family History Expos - they provide educational family history and genealogy expos and retreats. The president and organizer of these conferences is Holly Hansen. If you attended, send in some constructive criticism- the good with the bad. Please send her a message and show your support for next years conference.

I would like to encourage everyone to come out for the 2015 Family History Expo (probably held at the beginning of May) and support this event. I would encourage the genealogical and historical society's around the area to participate with a table and get back involved.  Go to the website and send a message to Holly and let her know that you will be supporting the 2105 conference and will help in getting the word out. Thanks. 

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