Guest Post by Linda Herrick Swisher
On February 25, I attended my first DuPage Genealogical Society Conference. I was drawn by the All-Star speaker lineup of Lou Szucs and Juliana Smith from Ancestry.com, as well as Paul Milner, Tony Burroughs, Maureen Brady, and Jennifer Holik.
Coming from the southern suburbs, and never having been to St. Charles, I wanted to start the day well-rested, without worrying about travel time or getting lost. I made reservations for Friday night at the Hilton Garden Inn, a very clean, attractive, quiet facility with a VERY comfortable bed.
The next morning, I headed downstairs where there was a good walk-in crowd. Having pre-registered, sign-in took just seconds — simply a matter of picking up my name tag and syllabus. Door prize tickets were already tucked into the name badge, which sported a color-coded dot to allow hotel staff to quickly serve one’s preselected lunch option.
The vendor area seemed quite busy, with a good variety of products and services, societies and repositories. The schedule allowed for ample time for browsing or rest breaks between sessions. One could choose from a great selection of door prizes.
A three-track conference gave attendees a choice. Trying to decide which session to attend was the hardest part of the day! Lecture rooms were good-sized, and nicely filled. Having the speaker remain in one room was a convenience for the speaker, and attendees seemed to have no problem finding the correct room. Upstairs, lunch was served quickly and there was even enough time for more shopping before the afternoon sessions started.
The sessions I attended ran smoothly, with volunteer monitors to watch the door, do introductions, and also alert speakers of the five minute mark. The evaluation form stapled to the back of the syllabus made it easy to complete the form and turn it in at the end of the conference, along with name tags.
I understand that attendance figures were nearly record-setting. It sounds as though attendees were drawn by the topics, as well as the recent focus on genealogy due to “Who Do You Think You Are?” Kudos to Carole Magnuson and the conference committee. A great deal of planning goes into such an event, and from what I could see, they had all the bases covered. Thanks also to the vendors and door prize contributors.