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Greetings from cold and rainy London! In other words, it is a typical winter day in the city. However, everything has remained warm and cozy inside the Olympia Exhibition Hall, site of the annual Who Do You Think You Are? Live! show.
Days #2 and #3 have continued in much the same manner as Day #1 (see my earlier report at http://goo.gl/gLL1y.) The hall continued to buzz with a large crowd. Unlike most American genealogy conferences, the majority of attendees at this "expo" attend for one day or for part of a day, not for all three days. The format is designed for this as it is an "expo," not a "conference” as is held in many other locations. FamilySearch Chief Genealogical Officer David Rencher made a comment that I thought was a perfect description. This isn't an exact quote as I didn't write his words down at the time, but it is close:
"This is like the auto show or the gun show or the sportsmen's show back home. You take the family with you, you drop in for two or three hours, you visit with a few vendors of interest, you eat a hot dog, and then you leave and take the family home. The following day, you tell your friends and co-workers what a good time you had."
I do think the number of attendees was down a bit this year. Actually, I missed last year's event due to a scheduling conflict so I cannot say for sure. However, it looked to me like a bit smaller crowd than two years ago. In addition, a number of people who have attended every year made similar comments to me about this year's attendees. I'm guessing 13,000 or possibly 14,000 attendees, which is still a very respectable number, much larger than any other similar event held anywhere else in the world.
The various exhibitors continued to attract a lot of people, with DNA talks being perhaps the best attended. Family Tree DNA had their own "lecture hall" this year, devoted all day long to DNA presentations every day of the show. I talked with senior company representatives Saturday evening and they reported that business had been great the first two days. I walked by the Family Tree DNA stand and the company's lecture area on the third day and business appeared to be brisk once again. I'd suggest that DNA has arrived as a popular and useful genealogy research tool. Of course, many of us knew that long before this year's Who Do You Think You Are? Live!
Ancestry.co.uk appeared to have the busiest area of the show. I guess I should should write "areas" with an "s" on the end of the word as the company had multiple locations in the hall. The primary exhibit booth was in the center of the exhibits hall, always with a crowd. The company also sponsored a "theater" at a different location on the main floor plus a separate workshop area on the second floor balcony.
The Society of Genealogists' "Ask the Experts” area continued to be one of the busiest areas of the show. Every time I wandered by, the place was crowded with a long queue of people waiting for a few minutes with an expert.
FindMyPast.com also had a very large and very busy exhibit, with company employees dressed in costumes modeled on the typical fashions of 100 years ago or longer. The employees presented "lectures" all day long and attracted a crowd at every one of the lectures for three days.
Dozens of other exhibitors also served the interests of everyone. I was delighted to see several dozen Americans in attendance, some in exhibitors' booths and others who simply showed up as attendees. I also met attendees and exhibitors from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Greece, Israel, Mexico, and from all over the British Isles. I suspect there were a few other nationalities represented as well. This is, indeed, an international genealogy conference.
The show closed this afternoon (Sunday). Everyone I saw was smiling, except perhaps for a few exhibitors who more weary than excited. Of course, that's to be expected after talking to throngs of attendees for three days! Show organizers have announced that they will repeat the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! event next year, perhaps with an even bigger event than ever before.
I hope you enjoy some of the pictures I took at this year's Who Do You Think You Are? Live!
I am leaving tomorrow (Monday) to fly home, although I'll be back in England for a different genealogy conference within a few weeks.
Nick Barrett makes a presentation in the Ancestry.co.uk theater. Yes, it's a fuzzy picture but I didn't realize that until after the show was over and I had returned to my hotel room so I couldn't take another.
"Preacher" Ian from FindMyPast.com.