I must say that I had a fun day today, hobnobbing with genealogists all day long. I was at the Family History Expo in Sandy, Utah, for the first day of a two-day event. I snapped a number of photographs which you can see here if you scroll down. Click on any image to see a larger picture.The Family History Expos are held in a number of cities, mostly in the western U.S., although this year the Expos are expanding as far eastward as Atlanta, Georgia. While this week's event is called the "Salt Lake Family History Expo," it is actually held in Sandy, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City. When driving from Salt Lake City to Sandy, a stranger probably won't realize that he or she crossed the city line. It is all one metropolitan area. In reality, this is the "Salt Lake AREA Family History Expo."
Sponsored by Family History Expos, Inc., a commercial company, these Expos are significantly different from most of the other conferences I have written about recently. For one thing, these are "expos," not conferences. They exhibit products and offer instruction. These Expos tend to attract novice and intermediate genealogists whereas many of the national conferences offer many presentations on more advanced topics. The Family History Expos tend to be held in smaller cities than the conferences. For instance, past Family History Expos have been held in Cheyenne, Wyoming, which can hardly be called a large city. However, other Expos have been held in the Salt Lake City area as well as near Phoenix, Arizona. A future Expo is planned for Atlanta. Those aren't small cities!
You can read more about future Family History Expos at http://fhexpos.com/
The Family History Expos tend to attract smaller crowds, which results in a cozier atmosphere. They are typically held in smaller convention centers outside the (expensive) downtown areas. These Expos tend to feel a lot like a local gardening show or home show or sportsman show or something similar. That's a good thing, in my opinion. Each Expo has lots of presentations and seminars but also has a strong focus on the commercial exhibitors. Indeed, the exhibits hall typically is the centerpiece of the Expo. This is again a good thing, in my opinion. Most of the exhibitors were companies within a few hundred miles of the convention center. Of course, being in the Salt Lake City area means that this is a lot of companies!
All in all, these Expos provide a very friendly atmosphere.
I was fascinated by the new products and services that I saw today. Several new products were on display that I had not seen previously at larger conferences. I will write a separate article about each product that I believe will be of interest to genealogists with interests in technical subjects.
The picture above shows Tom Kemp delivering the keynote speech this morning. Tom is director of genealogy products for NewsBank, the huge, online database of historical newspapers. (See http://www.genealogybank.com for details about NewsBank and GenealogyBank. See http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2010/06/tom-kemp-receives-prestigious-rusa-history-section-award-for-excellence-in-historical-reference.html for more information about one of Tom Kemp's latest awards.)
The rest of the day was a mix of presentations, product demonstrations, and one-on-one conversations in the exhibits hall. Here is a picture of Leland Meitzler delivering a presentation:
Admission to the Exhibits Hall is free. If you are in the Salt Lake City area, you might want to stop in tomorrow (Saturday) and see all the exhibits at no charge.
As I said earlier, I had fun today. I am looking forward to returning to the Salt Lake Family History Expo tomorrow.