That's me taking delivery of my new Flip-Pal.
I also wrote a few weeks ago about the $150 Flip-Pal, a small, battery-powered scanner designed for scanning photographs. At the time I wrote that article at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2010/08/flip-pal.html the scanners were not yet available but delivery was promised "within a few weeks." That time has passed and, indeed, the scanners are now available and were being sold at the Expo this weekend. I bought one this weekend and hope to write about it soon, after I get some "hands on" time with this tiny powerhouse.
The Family History Expos are quite different from most other genealogy events held in the United States. Indeed, an "expo" is not the same as a "conference." An expo is more of a showcase rather than an educational experience for advanced learning. The vendors are some of the stars at an expo. While a few of the presentations covered advanced topics, most presentations were aimed at newcomers to intermediate genealogists. I am sure that this is one of the reasons why a local expo such as the one held this weekend can attract so many attendees.
You can find the complete program at http://www.fhexpos.com/Arizona2011/AZ2011program.pdf, so I won't duplicate it here. I will point out, however, the number of nationally known speakers at this weekend conference. They included Arlene Eakle, Shirley Gage Hodges, Lisa Louise Cook, Ron Arons, Janet Hovorka, DearMYRTLE, Leland Meitzler, Jean Wilcox Hibben, and others. That's an impressive list for a regional conference. M. Bridget Cook also gave a great talk at the Friday evening banquet.
One thing I like about the Family History Expos is that they are held in areas that are not super expensive for attendees. First of all, this expo was held in a suburban convention center in Mesa, not in a more expensive downtown convention facility. I don't know the prices, but I'm sure the suburban convention center is much cheaper than the big convention centers downtown. Travel to the suburban convention center was also easier and cheaper for the majority of attendees, most of whom drove to the Expo.
The official conference hotel was the nearby Phoenix Marriott Mesa, and it was only $99 a night, a rather low price for a Marriott. That hotel is within walking distance of the convention center. Other hotels in the neighborhood were available for $75 or $80 a night. I stayed in a very nice La Quinta that was a couple of miles away; this was even cheaper and provided free wi-fi connections to the Internet although I did need a rental car to commute back and forth. Since I am staying in the Phoenix area for nearly a week, I planned on renting an automobile anyway for other purposes. Rental cars in the Phoenix area are cheaper than in many other cities.
I wish the organizers of other genealogy events would take note of the expenses that their attendees must pay. Too many times I have paid $140 a night or more for a convention center hotel room, plus $10 or $12 a night for wi-fi, plus $20 or more per night for parking, plus outrageous prices in hotel restaurants to attend genealogy conferences. Add in $200 or more for admission to some of the national conferences, and you can quickly figure out why some conferences are seeing a declining number of attendees. Many people cannot afford it! Yet events like Family History Expos, held in reasonably-priced facilities, are successful and are attracting more and more attendees every year.
My hat is off to Holly Hansen and her assistants for holding a great Expo. Holly is the CEO of Family History Expos, the sponsors of these events.
Family History Expos sponsors similar events in a number of U.S. cities, including St. George, Utah; Salt Lake City, Utah; Loveland, Colorado; Overland Park, Kansas; San Mateo, California; and Duluth, Georgia. You may be interested in attending one of those Expos. I suspect you will enjoy any of them.
You can more about Family History Expos at http://fhexpos.com/ My highlight of the Expo actually occurred a few hours after the close, when a group of EOGN newsletter readers descended on a local barbecue place and tried to eat everything on the menu. (We failed.) I'll write about that separately.
Not everything was genealogy-related at this conference. That's me lying face don, reciving a massage from Dr. L. Bock.