With reluctance, I have decided to not hold a dinner for EOGN readers after this year’s NGS conference in Fort Lauderdale, and I will probably hold very few such dinners in the future.
For years, I have sponsored dinners at the end of major genealogy conferences in the US. Every year, doing so has become harder and more expensive. Attempting to find banquet facilities in new and strange (to me) cities has become a challenge. In years past, I always looked for a place for about 25 genealogists to have dinner together. In recent years that number has grown to 75 to 125 attendees and sometimes even more. Finding a place available for a crowd of that size on a Saturday evening has proven difficult!
Another problem is price. Of course, inflation happens everywhere, but it seems to happen faster in banquet facilities than elsewhere. Years ago, such a dinner might cost $25 per person. Today, the price for a modest meal runs from $60 to $80 per person, and I have heard of even higher prices in a few places. To be blunt, I am embarrassed to ask people to pay that much for a meal.
A contributing factor is my age: I still try to be a high-energy person; but all the running around, planning, and various other activities at conferences is starting to wear me down. Perhaps it is time to pass the baton to someone else.
Sadly, with one exception, I have decided to not hold any more EOGN dinners after the genealogy conferences.
The one exception is RootsTech, held every winter in Salt Lake City.
Having the dinner in the same city year after year has several advantages, so I think I will continue to hold dinners after every RootsTech conference. The banquet at the Radisson Hotel adjacent to the convention center in Salt Lake City is convenient and easy to plan. All I need to do is call or email the Radisson’s Banquet Manager and say, “I’d like to do the same thing we did last year.”
Every year the Banquet Manager reviews the previous year’s plans in her files, goes down the list of items with me, sends me this year’s menu choices, and I select whatever seems appropriate. Simple.
The price at the Radisson goes up every year, the same as most everyplace else; but the increase has always been modest. As long as the price is reasonable and the planning process is simple, I suspect that I will continue to hold dinners at RootsTech. Other venues in other cities have proven to be much more difficult.
I started holding dinners after conferences 26 years ago, several years before the start of this newsletter. I hate to stop the tradition, but continuing to plan and hold dinners in different cities has proven to be too difficult for me. I think it is time to end the tradition.
See you at RootsTech?