No EOGN Dinner at the NGS 2016 Family History Conference Next Week in Fort Lauderdale

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?


Hi Dick,
It is true that age slows us all, an occurrence I held off fairly well until the last couple of years. I was fortunate that this year for my 80th birthday, my family came from the east coast to Texas to help me celebrate.
You’ve done much for the genealogy community over the years and have certainly earned the right to pass the baton. Do so with full knowledge that those of us who share your addiction to the hobby appreciate all you have done. Stay well, and enjoy the relaxation you have more than earned!
Don Michel

Liked by 1 person

Sandra M. Clunies April 25, 2016 at 8:27 pm

Many fun memories of past dinners will sustain your senior pals, Dick! Some of the venues seem also to have “retired” – like Dirty Dick’s in Boston! Recall the decades ago time in SLC when a “young” David Rencher (can’t believe he celebrated birthday #63 today!) was our chauffeur to some Tex-Mex place we took over for the evening! Grateful to be keeping on keeping on …..Sandy Clunies.


Good thought Dick. $60 is a lot for rubber chicken. Salt Lake City is a whole lot cheaper and if food is junk, diners complain and their business gets a bad reputation. Ft. Lauderdale really doesn’t care. You are just a small group that they believe they don’t have to bend over for.
If they only knew that there are thousands of personal genealogists, they would have
given you a better rate.
Trip Advisor is a great source of info. Whether good or bad!
It is the thought that counts, Dick.
Aloha, Susan


Dick, have you considered hiring an assistant? Getting someone for even just a couple hours a week could be a huge help, and maybe revitalize your energy a bit.


    —> Dick, have you considered hiring an assistant?

    Yes, but that would require a major price increase in the Plus Edition subscription price to pay the wages of another person.


As life continues to move us forward we all need to take stock of things that cause us extra stress and begin the process of eliminating them – first of all, who needs them and second they aren’t good for us. We aren’t “old” yet, but creeping there more quickly than we’d like so perhaps a switch to just a gathering of a few or one or two readers inviting you out to dinner makes better sense.


I suggest that if people want to continue to have dinners, a qualified person, other than Dick, could step forward and organize a dinner?


Dear Mr. Eastman,
I salute your self-awareness and inclination to conserve your resources. The Quakers have a phrase which I have found very useful in these past years: time to “lay it down.” Honor its past, grieve a bit if it’s appropriate, but then just lay it down. It was grand while it lasted, and now that is over.
Your readers appreciate your primary output, which is the fantastic newsletter than we have all come to rely on and value. Personally, I hope that eliminating the angst swirling around organizing large dinners in multiple and unfamiliar places will recharge your batteries for the newsletter.
Thank you, and best wishes for an interesting and informative period ahead.


Your explanation is totally understandable and acceptable. Although I have never been to one of your dinners (Ft. Lauderdale is only my second national conference), I have always wanted to attend. I have heard great things about these dinners and all of the friends that partake. The SLC dinners will now become all that more special! I salute your years of dedication to the dinners of years past! Thank you!


Dear Dick,
Thanks for many nights of pleasure over the years! You do so much for all of us all th e time! I salute you and thank you for all the effort over the years with your multiple news letters, and for the fun end to conferences. I will miss the togetherness, but understand the underlying reason. See you next week!


Sad. I was so looking forward to it. I shall certainly look you up at the Find My Past booth and I’m signed up to hear you speak at the Friday luncheon. Guess I’ll just have to go to Roots Tech one of these years.


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