Another very fun, very successful SQL Saturday has been written down in the history books. The Columbus SQL Server User Group hosted SQL Saturday #75 on Saturday, June 11, 2011.

Friday morning, I packed up The Mighty Honda Fit for a four-state road trip. I learned a very important lesson on this drive: I was crazy for not having a GPS years ago. I rolled into town around 6:00 PM, checked into my hotel, and headed to the speaker dinner. It was great to see some old friends there, and meet some new ones. I also got to try an amazing red IPA from an Ohio brewery that I can’t remember the name of, unfortunately.

Saturday morning started bright and early with a 2-mile run with Erin Stellato (blog | twitter). After that nice wake-up call, we headed over to Goodwill Columbus for an exciting day of teaching and learning.

First, I sat in Erin’s session on “Baseline Basics: Where to Start, What You Need”. I’m excited to say that I was able to come away from this session with immediately-useful information, such as which Perfmon counters are especially helpful for SQL Server, and free tools like Clear Trace and Who Is Active that I can use. I highly recommend catching a session by Erin. She’s incredibly smart, has very smooth sessions, and loves to answer questions!

Then I got to lead the Women in Technology lunch panel, which I always enjoy. I discussed “Energizing the Next Generation” with Jen Myers (blog | twitter), Sarah Barela (blog | twitter), and Erin. And a packed room of attendees. It was so great, it’s getting its own blog post.

Right after that, I stepped into Room 1 to give my “Reporting Services 201: From Basic to “Wow”’ session. My first thought was, “Wow, this room is packed. All these people can’t be here to see me.” But they were! This is the fourth time I’ve given this presentation, and I think it was, by far, the best. I’ve tweaked it a little bit after feedback and it was very smooth. I had a great audience, who came up with some interesting questions and were willing to share stories of how they successfully used features. Thank you to everyone that attended! My slides and .rdl files are available for download here.

In the afternoon I got to attend two sessions. First was “SQL Server Partitioning from A to Z” with Kevin Boles (twitter). I learned about this when studying for the MCTS. It was better to see real-world examples of it, and I started thinking about how I can use it to help with some of my large databases at work.

Last but not least, I watched Paul Hiles (twitter) talk about “DMVs – What are they and why should a DBA care?” I love DMVs. I think they are an amazing, easy-to-use, helpful tool. Paul showed some great examples of how to use them, and how to save some results for historical purposes.

At that point, I think everyone’s brains were full! We filtered into the main room where the organizers, volunteers and speakers were recognized. There was also plenty of swag to give away, thanks to the great sponsors. The grand prize was the iPad, given away by Fusion-iO. The crazy part? I WON.

I think that picture says it all. Thank you!

This was a very successful event. The group did a good job of organizing it. The turnout was better than the year before, which is excellent. The sponsors were very gracious, and should be thanked for helping the community put on these events. But the best part is always the people.

I got to see old friends, like Erin, Allen White and Brian Davis. These are people whose blogs I’d read, I’d talked to on Twitter, and I’d met at other events. There were people I’d talked to online but hadn’t met in person, like Dave Schutz and Mark Freeman. And then there were all the new people I got to meet, who were taking a Saturday from their busy lives to learn from others and get out in the community – maybe you don’t follow them on Twitter, yet, or haven’t seen a presentation from them, yet, but you will. They are the people that asked questions, and responded to mine in sessions. They make it all especially worthwhile. Go to these events for the networking – it is so worth it!

I do have to brag a little about meeting two people in particular. I finally got to meet Bill Pearson (twitter). When I first started writing reports, I read every article and tip that he wrote, and I learned so much from them. Getting to thank him in person was a special treat for me. Then, I got introduced to Sarah Dutkiewicz (twitter | blog), a C# MVP, blogger, author, and all-around awesome person. She and I have been big fans of each other’s work for some time. She is all smiles and enthusiasm, and I cannot wait to see her again!

After the main event was over, a group of us went out for dinner, and were able to relax outside on the patio and chat. I had a blast chatting about the community, running, WIT and many other topics with the group. Then we headed out to #slqkaraoke and, as always, what happens at #sqlkaraoke stays there. You’ll just have to make it to one to find out!

Sunday was another special day for me, as it marked one year since I quit smoking. I got lots of congratulations from people, and I got to run with Allen and Brian to celebrate. We went four miles through a park in Columbus, and it was wonderful. Then I packed up the car and headed back home.

So…when’s the next one?!