Monday, September 3, 2012

Conference accomplished!

Cathy Lafrenz talks about marketing your farm business
By all accounts, the first Mid-America Homesteading Conference was a great success. We had amazing volunteers who kept everything running smoothly from registration to getting extra copies of hand-outs at the last minute. Evaluations were overwhelmingly positive, and the speakers said that attendees were enthusiastic and motivated. Of course, it wasn't perfect, but everyone was excitedly saying, "Next year, you should do _____!" when talking about how we could improve.

As nice as the facility is, we are not sure it will meet our needs next year. There were 51 people, and that seemed like a comfortable number. Although the capacity for the rooms is 30 each for a total of 90 people, we probably would have felt cramped in the lobby area with that number. Also, there was a suggestion for more vendors, but there wasn't much room left in the lobby for more exhibitor tables.

Some definite changes for next year:
  • We will indicate in the program whether a session is geared towards beginners or advanced attendees, as some people said that various sessions were either more advanced or more basic than what they needed.
  • There will be more time between sessions for networking and shopping.
Some people also asked for live demonstrations next year -- canning, soapmaking, and cheesemaking -- so we are going to check into the possibility of using a culinary classroom for doing a pre-conference workshop, or maybe we'll just bring in a hot plate and a microwave.

If you forgot to turn in an evaluation at the end of the day, it's not too late to offer your suggestions for making next year even better. Or maybe you did turn in an evaluation, but you just thought of something else to add? Click on "Comments" below and add your ideas!