One of the largest genealogy fairs of the year will soon take place in the small city of St. George, Utah. This annual event is a "sleeper:" That is, the expo is not a national event and yet it attracts large crowds and a long list of presenters and exhibitors. The expo location is about a two-hour drive from Las Vegas, very convenient for many of us who fly to the event. I have been to several of the past Family History Expos and plan to attend this year's event as well.
Of course, those of us who live in colder climates always appreciate traveling to St. George in February. While the weather is variable, average daytime high temperatures at that time of year are about sixty degrees with occasional sunny days in the seventies.
The city has become a retirement mecca with a growing tourist business. Scenery is plentiful with red bluffs visible everywhere. The northeastern edges of the Mojave Desert are visible to the south. Zion National Park can be seen to the east, and the Pine Valley Mountains loom over the city to the north and northwest. Unlike my past visits, I hope to spend a few extra days sightseeing in the area this year. St. George is also known for its abundance of hotels, motels, restaurants, factory outlets, and other great shopping opportunities.
The St. George event is an "expo," not a conference. In short, it is an "open house" event aimed at novice to intermediate genealogists. While many presentations are offered at the Family History Expo, most of them are aimed at non-guru genealogists. In my mind, this is a good thing. While genealogists will always have a need for the advanced topics presented at some of the national conferences, the St. George Family History Expo is much more of a “grass roots” event. We need more of these, in my opinion.
The St. George event also features a strong focus on the exhibitors' hall. Indeed, the 50 or so exhibitors are the stars of this show. The exhibitors’ hall is large and attendees will find lots of time to speak with the many exhibitors. The exhibitors this year include: Footnote.com, Wholly Genes Software, FamilySearch, RootsMagic, Family Tree Magazine, RootsTelevision, Legacy Family Tree, USGenWeb, GenealogyBank, Search & ReSearch Publishing , Archive CD Books USA , Genealogy Today, My Ancestors Found, The Genealogical Institute, Geni.com, Everton Publishers, Genline, findmypast.com, Ancestry.com, The Genealogy Shelf, FamilyLink.com (formerly World Vital Records), Incline Software, The Jefferson Project, Generation Maps, the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, Ohana Software, Godfrey Memorial Library and others. The “DearMYRTLE Q & A Booth” will also be in operation. I’m not sure just what answers the “Q&A Booth” will be providing. However, knowing Pat (a.k.a. DearMYRTLE), I am sure it will be first class.
As to speakers, many of the best-known presenters in genealogy make the trip to St. George. The keynote speaker this year is Beau Sharbrough, Vice-President of Content Strategy & Acquisition at Footnote.com. The expo kicks off Friday morning with the keynote address by Beau Sharbrough, speaking on “Pirates of the Pedigree.” I’m not sure what that covers but I suspect it will be an interesting talk. Anyone who has ever heard Beau speak with his mixture of humor and hard facts can tell you about his excellent speaking abilities.
Other presenters at next month’s Family History Expo in St. George will include: Anna Swayne, Arlene H. Eakle, Baerbel K. Johnson, Barry J. Ewell, Betty Lou Malesky, Billy D. Edgington, Bruce Buzbee, Craig Roberts Scott, Cynthia B. Alldredge, D. Merrill White, Dale Bartlett, David Lifferth, (President of FamilyLink.com), DearMYRTLE,
Dennis Meldrum, Derek B. Dobson, Gaylon Findlay, Gena Philibert Ortega, Geoff Rasmussen, Janet Hovorka, Jason McGowan, Jay Burrup, Jean Wilcox Hibben, Jeanette K. B. Daniels, Jessica Pears, Jim Greene, John Vilburn, Jonathan Walker, Kathryn Lake Hogan, Kip Sperry, LaRae Free Kerr, Leland K. Meitzler, Lisa L. Cooke, Marlo E. Schuldt, Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, Michael Booth, Mike Ward
Mindi Stevens, Paola Manfredi, Paul Larsen, Paul Nauta, Raymond W. Madsen, Richard Black, Rose W. Johnson-Tsosie, Ruth Ellen Maness, Stefani Evans, Stephen J. Valentine, Steven Vander Does, Suzanne Russo Adams, Timothy G. Cross, Tracey Bates Long, and Yvette Arts (Director of Content Acquisition at FamilyLink.com)
Some of those names are well known nationally within genealogy circles while others are not well known outside of southern Utah. This should be an interesting mix of presenters!
All in all, this year’s event looks like a good one: plenty of presenters who will give information about a wide variety of genealogy-related topics, a busy exhibitors’ hall, gorgeous scenery and a mild climate. I’m there!
If you can be in St. George on February 8 or 9, stop in at the Dixie Center of St. George. It is conveniently located just off Interstate 15. Admission is $65.00 at the door. Also, please stop by the Footnote.com booth and say “Hello.” I hope to spend a lot of my time there meeting newsletter readers.
For more information about the Family History Expo 2008, look at http://www.myancestorsfound.com/events/upcoming.php?event_id=1.