It’s over. I still can’t believe it.  Something that I’ve worked on so hard and cared for 6 months is over.  So many great things happened during the day, and so many great people were involved.  I’m going to use this space to try to thank everyone, and give a respectful remembrance to the day of my life: Sept 22, 2012 – SQL Saturday #160 day.

So many people to thank….

Before I begin, I know I’m going to mess up and forget someone, please believe me when I say that it’s not on purpose.  The following Thank YOUs are not in any specific order.

Kalamazoo Valley Community College

KVCC owns one of the most beautiful campuses I have had the pleasure of witnessing, Community College or no. The Student Commons area of the Texas Township campus is nothing short of amazing. It’s an indoor arboretum, and absolutely stunning.  I owe special thanks to Dawn Pantaleo – Faculty Advisor to AITP, Mary Johnson – Student Activities and Program Coordinator and John Burns – KVCC Faculty.  You were all INCREDIBLY pivotal in pulling this event off, and I can’t thank you enough for your time and patience.

Tim and Amy Ford and Family

Tim and Amy once again opened their doors to a bunch of SQL Server professionals and not only let us host a speaker gathering the night before the event, but also an impromptu gathering after the official after party.  I know we were loud, and your house is probably still not in the condition that you are used to.  Your family is amazing, and I could thank you every day for a year, and it still would not be enough.  (Have I said Thank You yet today?)

Shelly Noll

If I had a “right hand” in planning this event, it would be Shelly.  Not only did she put up with my late night ideas, she also helped to reign me in to ensure that I didn’t try to take on more than I could handle. In addition to keeping me in check, Shelly also volunteered to be the Sponsor Coordinator, ensuring that the sponsors had everything they needed I the days leading up to the event, as well as the day of.  Thanks Shelly, and I look forward to working with you in the future, if you’ll agree to it again.

Joe Fleming

I asked Joe to help to act as my volunteer coordinator pretty late in the game, and in true “Joe” style, he agreed with bounds of enthusiasm. Joe and I worked together a few weeks before the event to design a Volunteer plan and held a series of meetings to ensure that everyone knew what their roles would be.  Joe was able to successfully run at team of 15 people with minimal instruction from me.  Thanks Joe. I look forward to working further with you on our various projects!

SQLPass and Karla Landrum

SQLPass has created an EXCELLENT brand with SQL Saturday.  In addition to that, they have created a wonderful set of tools to make it EASY for organizers to plan these events.  Not only that, but they have employed a true gem, Karla Landrum, to ensure that organizers are NOT ALONE, have support, and are equipped with the knowledge they need to successfully execute a large format event.  Thank you Karla for taking my crazy questions in stride, and helping ME to look like an old pro at holding events.

The Presenters

I am still amazed at the schedule that we were able to put together.  It was completely 100% amazing, and I thank each one of the presenters for volunteering your time to help provide world-class traning to the West MI Community. Each speaker paid their own way to get to Kalamazoo, so in addition to to time, many also have a significant financial investment into this event.  Thank you. I hope you enjoy the jacket, and don’t forget to bring it to Seattle in November!  Let’s have #sqlsat160 dominate SQL Saturday shirt day!

The Volunteers

We had a volunteer team this year that was nothing short of excellent.  Pulled together in the final weeks before the event, they operated like a well-oiled machine.  Manning the registration desk, helping speakers get ready in their rooms, ensuring lunch ran without a hitch.  I can’t thank you all enough.  I am so appreciative of the time you offered during the day, and I hope that you all were still able to attend those sessions that interested you the most.  Thank you!

The Sponsors

My final thank you goes to our amazing sponsors.  Without your support, this event could’ve never happened.  It’s no secret that pulling off a successful one day training event for over 250 people costs a significant amount of money.  Thank you for offering those financial resources to ensure a successful day.  I hope that you all had a great number of visitors and will consider sponsoring again next year!

Event Recap

SQL Saturday “day” actually started on Friday morning for me.  Knowing that I would have a lot of things to focus on starting Friday afternoon, I decided to take some “me” time and head out for a run.  1.5 hours and 7 miles later, I was feeling refreshed but tired, and ready to attack the day.

After a quick shower, I packed up the remainder of SQL Saturday stuff and made the 2 hour trip to Kalamazoo for the weekend.  I arrived early enough to head to Tim and Amy’s house to help get a couple of tables set up for dinner, and some initial bag stuffing.  I headed to KVCC to talk to the volunteer team and make sure that the event bag stuffing was going well and also to walk the classrooms.

On my way there, I received a phone call from Joe Fleming, my volunteer coordinator. “We don’t’ have any lanyards here.”  LANYARDS!!  I left the lanyards at home, two hours away.  There was no way I could make it home and back before the speaker dinner.  Luckily I was able to get ahold of some family members and they were able to “get” into my house and meet me halfway.  So I only ate up two hours of time instead of four.  Big thanks to Joe and Shelly for covering for me while I made that trip, and also to my family members for making a trip for me.

The speaker dinner, which was held and Tim and Amy Ford’s house, was a nice relaxing meal catered by local Kalamazoo company Que-It-Up.  They make all of the food onsite, and included fresh made fire roasted salsa, brisket, chicken, vegetarian pintos/green beans, bread, chips…the works.  It was a wonderful dinner.

After eating, we enjoyed some billiards and a little impromptu Rock Band session before calling it a relatively early night.

I of course, accidentally slept in the morning of the event – thanks to a dead cell phone battery.  Still, I arrived JUST in time for a quick meeting with the volunteers, and to help with the last 30 minutes of set up before the doors opened.

We had fresh made donut holes, energy bars, and coffee for breakfast lined up to welcome our attendees and at 8:30 everyone gathered into the theatre room where I made some morning announcements.  We had a few new features at SQL Saturday Kalamazoo this year, and I wanted to make sure to cover them all.

  • Spotlight sessions – we had two double length sessions, one by Eddie Wuerch and the other by Rob Kerr
  • Resume Review service – TekSystems came on site to review resumes and make suggestions for improvements with no strings attached
  • Hourly give-a-ways – Between each session, tickets were drawn for a chance to win a custom messenger bag which included a T-Shirt and a flash drive of either 8GB or 32GB capacity.

Then, just like that, the sessions were rolling.  I didn’t attend much, but rather walked around and made sure that everything was covered.  After the first couple of hours were completed, it was time to set up for the lunch arrival.

This year, we went with Taco Bob’s a local catering company specializing in a wonderful taco buffet.  One of my goals this year was to provide a meal that would cater to everyone.  This turned out to be a great choice and vegetarians and non-vegetarians were able to share the same meal, and no one felt left out of a hot lunch.  I urge other organizers to attempt to do the same.  The last thing anyone wants is a veggie wrap, while everyone else is eating a delicious looking catered lunch.

The rest of the day executed perfectly.  There really was very few issues for me to track down, and most were so minor that not many even knew they existed.  The final big part of the day was the raffle!  Due to the overwhelming response we had from sponsors this year, we had a lot to give away!  I’m so happy for all of the winners, and I hope you are enjoying the various bits of technology and training materials that you received.

The after party was once again held at the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange – a local sports bar with an interesting twist on pricing.  The draft beer price is dynamically set buy the sales of the previous 15 minutes.  I know I’d sure like to get my hands on that algorithm to see how it works.  Unfortunately, it was awfully busy there, and not all of us got fed.  So, a few of us retreated back to Tim and Amy’s house for some speaker dinner leftovers, and a really amazing game — Cards Against Humanity.  Laughter roared through the house, and I’m sure we disturbed Tim’s children more than once.  Thanks again to Tim and Amy for letting us all invade.

Final Thoughts

I’m still having a hard time believing that it’s all over for this year.  The day after it was done, I was ready to start planning the next one.  I still am.  Watch out Kalamazoo, the #sqlfamily is coming back in 2013.