Forty-eight hours ago, I was a bundle of nerves. I was loading up the car with Tech on Tap swag, shirts, and gear. I had been working towards this day for almost a year with Derek Schauland (twitter | blog) and Mark Cyrulik (twitter | blog), and having it all come together was nerve-wracking. Would attendees show up? Would the speakers be engaging and entertaining? Would the sponsors consider the event the best investment of their money possible? Would I make it through the day without a nervous breakdown?

By 5:00 pm, all my fears were gone. We had a fantastic event. I couldn’t have asked for it to go better the first time. So here is who I want to high five for this event.

The Attendees

This was the main reason we held the event: the attendees. We had 31 people in the room. They covered a range of jobs, from sys admins to DBAs to developers; large company employees to independent consultants. I knew a few from WiSSUG and MADPASS. (One of my college teachers was there, too. Presenting in front of him was surreal.) And everyone participated. They asked questions. They offered suggestions. They networked with the people sitting at the same table. Many of them said they would be back – and that is success.

The Speakers

Wow. How did we luck out like this?

Brian Lewis from Microsoft kicked the day off. I thought he was a little sales-pitchy at first, but then he started digging into architecture and moving VMs and other great info. His session put us on the right track for the day.

After lunch, Bob Plankers was tasked with keeping a group of people who had just eaten (and had a beer) awake, which he did in smashing fashion. His one-liners were as good as the wealth of information he provided. I’m glad we got his slides, because there was no way I caught all of that the first time through. I’m also glad he covered not just the tech aspects of virtualization, but also the business side.

Then, I got to step up in front of the room and present Monitoring Virtual SQL Servers with Grant Fritchey. The Scary DBA himself. This was a bit surreal for me, as I first met Grant less than a year ago. I thought we had great give-and-take throughout the session, speaking to points we knew about and handing off when the other knew more. (Also, the Dropkick Murphys-themed slide deck was awesome.)

The Sponsors

Two great companies put faith in us and a new event. I hope it paid off for them as much as it did for us. Red Gate was our gold sponsor, and had books, tshirts, and other swag for the attendees. (They also shipped us Mr. Fritchey.) Confio was our silver sponsor, and also had great info and swag for the attendees – including a Kindle raffled off by their rep, John. We could not have put on this event without them, and I want to extend my sincerest thanks to them.

The Venue

Stone Cellar Brewpub in Appleton exceeded ALL of our expectations. We knew they had great food and great beer. They also provided outstanding customer service and went above and beyond for us. When we realized (panicked) that we forgot to print speaker eval forms, they printed them for us. The servers were attentive to everyone in the room, refilling beers and soda and clearing dishes. They even brought in sample trays of beer for us during the afternoon break!

I’m excited about having our second event there in June. If you’re looking for a venue in the Fox Valley, I highly recommend Stone Cellar.

The Beer

We had three Stone Cellar beers to sip on throughout the day – Vanishing Vanilla Stout, Pie Eyed India Pale Ale, and Marquette Pilsner. All three were delicious.

There was some concern that people would get drunk or behave inappropriately, given that they were allowed to drink all day. At the event, we had no problems. Everyone was a responsible adult, and both enjoyed and behaved themselves.

The Organizers

Derek and Mark: thank you for letting me help you with this event, and for putting up with me. We did a great job. Between the three of us, there isn’t much we can’t accomplish – given a few beers. In less than a year, we went from “I have an idea” to a room full of people who participated in that idea. That’s something we can all be proud of. You are both a joy to work with.

What we can do better

There is always room for improvement, especially with a first-time event. We need to re-work the speaker evaluation forms a bit. The room layout could have been a little better. There are a few other little things to work on.

But, overall, wow. I’m blown away by how smoothly things ran and how great the feedback was. I can’t wait to do it again!

So, keep Saturday, June 9, 2012 open – we’ll be hosting Tech On Tap v1.2, SharePoint!