One of my personal highlights of many genealogy conferences is when readers of this newsletter gather together over a meal. We normally do this on Saturday evenings, within an hour or two after the conference ends. This year, after a bit of confusion with participating restaurants, we ended up in the conference hotel's restaurant.
We talked loudly and probably disrupted several groups around us. In my mind, that's a good thing. We even sang a chorus of "Happy Birthday" to a surprised Sue Ellen Hoffman. We also played a "guess the bill" game near the end of the gathering, and the winner donated her free dinner to the birthday girl.
I think everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. For a full report, ask any of the 35 attendees.
I have hosted these dinners for years, and most of them have been last-minute, "pick up affairs." We typically do not plan these events in advance. Attendees normally do not commit to the event in advance; we all have simply shown up at a designated place and time and then have gone to dinner together at some nearby spot. I think that is about to change.
The lack of nearby restaurants in Richmond, the confusion with the first restaurant selected, and the crowded hotel restaurant all contributed to my elevated blood pressure on Saturday afternoon and early evening. The whole event was too confusing, and I was afraid it would be a failure. We did end up in a good area of the hotel's restaurant, but were unable to have everyone seated at one table.
While I am delighted to report that the dinner turned out to be a success, I think my own peace of mind dictates that future Saturday night newsletter events must be planned and organized in a better manner.
I hope to hold many more such dinners after genealogy conferences as long as they do not interfere with conference events. However, I will probably make future restaurant arrangements weeks in advance and will require registration of attendees some days before the event. Advance payment may or may not be required, depending upon the arrangement with the selected restaurant. Only those who register well in advance will be able to have a seat at the table.
Advance planning such as this will probably result in some loss of spontaneity. but it should also ensure that every attendee gets a good seat in a proper restaurant. Proper planning also should reduce my blood pressure.
Look for future Saturday evening dinner announcements in this newsletter two to six weeks in advance of the event. Please read the details carefully as the arrangements will be different from past dinners.