I chose to skip the classes and spend my day in the exhibit hall.
As a frequent genealogical speaker, I have spent many hours just this year in front of an audience. This time, I chose to spend time just for me!
My experience in Cincinnati began as I was approaching the city. Before I knew it, the beautiful skyline came into view, inviting travelers to come and be welcome in their city.
I had no problem at all finding the Duke Energy Center, or the easy directions to the different parking garages. The garages were certainly filled, but not to capacity. From the moment I stepped out of my car, friendly attendants were everywhere, helping me find my way across the skywalk into the Center.
Cincinnati is a different city than when my sister was there attending nursing school in the 1950's. The downtown area is alive and vibrant and welcoming.
I LOVED the skywalk that connected the parking garage to the Center. It took me several minutes to cross, for on one side I could view the exhibit hall, while on the other side there were tryouts for young Olympic hopefuls.
Once inside the exhibit center, I was immediately greeted by many genealogy friends from all over. I'm not going to mention their names, for they are well-known in the genealogy circles and on the web. They already have plenty of coverage. I count them as my friends, and I cherish that friendship.
But, my visit to the exhibit hall was not to elaborate on who or how I know. I wanted to look at things from the perspective of just a normal genealogist who is just trying to "do" their genealogy.
The number of exhibitors seemed small, but I soon learned it wasn't because they were few in number. It was because of the size of the hall. That was a good thing! I have been to a few venues where it was difficult to navigate among the displays. I was glad for comfortable walking shoes, for I'm sure I covered a lot of ground in that hall.
As in all exhibit halls, it becomes more crowded during class and lunch breaks. At times, I mingled with the crowd. At other times, I meandered alone. It provided a wonderful opportunity to peruse the new gadgets and programs, to ask questions of the various societies, to browse through some books I hope to get, and to talk with those "normal genealogists" that were there to gain information and further their research.
I spent a lot of time at the Ancestry booth, as well as FamilySearch. Both were quite willing to spend as much one-on-one time as I needed to answer some questions.
I loved talking with folks from the Kentucky Library and Archives, the Kentucky Historical Society and the Melungeon Heritage Association. And what better place to be able to talk with all of these groups, and more, under the same roof?
But, the joy of it all was the people. Whether I was listening to someone talk about their product, or listening to someone discuss their genealogical problem while sharing the same lunch table, I was enriched and enlightened.
This year was certainly a different experience, as I have attended conferences in the past and wore myself out trying to attend every class and every banquet and every event from morning till evening.
Instead of walking away with a brain that was buzzing, I drove home savoring the time spent with the people - those "normal genealogists" that are just trying to do the same thing we're all doing.
This one was one of the best!
Once inside the Center, there were attendants on every turn to point me in the right direction.