RootsTech Recap, 2016 – Part II

When we left off, I had just finished attending the final RootsTech session of the day on Thursday.  I had hoped to cram in some research time at the Family History Library that evening but an unfortunate power outage meant they had to close early.  I decided to just grab some dinner and head back to the hotel.  One of the nice things about RootsTech being at the Salt Palace Convention Center is that there are a great deal of non-genealogical destinations to explore within a very short walk.  The shops at City Creek are terrific, and there are many good restaurants, all within walking distance of the numerous hotels that house conference attendees.  In the 5 years I’ve attended RootsTech, I’ve never rented a car; Salt Lake City has fantastic public transit – and lots of good private car (taxi, Uber, Lyft) options as well.

I caught an early dinner and a bit of the Democratic Debate, and turned in early.  I spent much of Friday exploring the Expo Hall.  Although there are always worthwhile presentations and classes at RootsTech, I find tremendous value in walking around the (gigantic) hall and chatting with the various exhibitors, learning about their products.  I visited friends from the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society, E-Z Photo Scan, WikiTree and many others.  I met Fisher from the Extreme Genes genealogy radio program,  chatted with the RootsMagic folks about their (incredibly exciting) just announced Ancestry.com integration, and I learned about a number of new and exciting projects.

After grabbing lunch, I spent a good portion of the afternoon back at the booth for the Guild of One-Name Studies.  As I mentioned in my earlier post, I had never done the “exhibitor” thing before, and I really enjoyed the one-on-one conversations with so many attendees.  We had a constant flow of interested attendees – it was quite fulfilling to participate in this capacity.

Friday night there was an after-party, sponsored by MyHeritage – the first time they’ve held such an event – and it was a very enjoyable way to spend the evening.  Although I don’t think I’ll ever be one to say “boy, that karaoke sure was fun” – it was certainly unique to watch dozens of top genealogy personalities, belting their lungs out(!)

Saturday was the final day of the conference, and I kept most of the morning open since I was speaking that afternoon.  I was honored to be asked to speak for a third straight year, and I was particularly excited to get to speak on the topic of “Cemetery Crowdsourcing”.  Even better than that, my talk was chosen to be recorded by FamilySearch.  The attendance was a little disappointing, but many people do understandably skip the sessions that are being recorded in favor of ones that will not be viewable later.  Additionally, many folks tend to cut out by Saturday afternoon.  So, while I didn’t have a huge audience (when I spoke on Italian Genealogy in 2015, they had to turn people away!) it was a very engaged and delightful audience, with wonderful questions and serious interest in the subject matter.  Beyond that, the opportunity to be recorded is super exciting – and I’ve already heard from people who have watched it!

Overall, I felt very good about the talk – and I hope that you can give it a watch when you have a moment!

After the talk was over, I decided to do another lap around the expo hall, and then I helped close out the day at the Guild’s booth.  I got a quick drink with some of my fellow NYC-based researchers (most of whom I only got to meet upon being in Utah!  Funny how the world works, isn’t it…)

Dick Eastman almost always holds a closing-night dinner for those friends and readers of his newsletter who would like to attend, and this year was no exception.  I’ve attended for a number of years and always find it to be a highlight of RootsTech – there’s just something wonderful about being in a room full of kindred spirits, sharing what we’ve learned at the conference and getting to know one another at a more leisurely pace.  As the dinner came to a close, Dick and I split a cab to the airport as we were both on the same red-eye flight back to points east.  Part of the fun of RootsTech is that genealogists are everywhere.

While waiting for my flight to depart, I spotted a RootsTech lanyard and struck up a brief conversation with another genealogist about to board a red-eye.  It turned out to be True Lewis, I knew of her from her wonderful blog.  When I first attended RootsTech in 2012 I didn’t know a single person in the genealogy community.  I now look forward to running into friends and fellow researchers at every turn and, in this case, meeting someone I had yet to meet.  The work of my colleagues inspires me to no end and it is a thrill to explore genealogy in their company and with their guidance.

I should mention, the dates have now been set for next year’s RootsTech: February 8th to 11th, 2017.  I certainly hope to be there!  If you’ve never attended, perhaps 2017 will be your year!  It is, truly, my favorite week of the year – and this year was no exception.

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