DuPage County Genealogical Society (DCGS) Annual Conference Held On February 25, 2012 Was A Rip-Roaring Success!

Hi Everyone!

I am happy to report that the recently held DuPage County Genealogical Society (DCGS) Annual Conference was an astounding success.  From the society website they are reporting that the conference was attended by 337 excited and motivated researchers.

I actually was a part of this excitement and decided at the last-minute to attend as a “walk-in”.  When I announced my intentions via this blog,  a commenter warned me that the society had already determined that attendance was going to be spectacular and that “walk-ins” were being “discouraged” from just showing up.

I took a chance and drove to the venue being held in St. Charles at the Hilton

Large Group Of Researchers Checking Out The Vendor Booths During The Lunch Hour Break

Garden Inn across from Pheasant Run.  I arrived at about 8 AM.  Yikes!!  Access to the parking lot was already under strict control and panic set in for me that I literally would not be able to find a parking space!. I meandered around and tried another area for parking and to my happy surprise did find a nice parking spot.

Now the challenge … Walk in and announce to whoever wants to hear me that I am your proverbial “walk-in” that was warned via the DCGS website to think twice about showing up.  The registration table was hopping as “pre-registered” attendees showed up to start their day.

Many Participants Learning About Social Media In One Of The Programs

I probably had a sheepish look on my face when I was already telegraphing a “pleading” look to let me in!  Oh please don’t turn me away!

It worked.  I was told my presence was greatly appreciated but with two caveats as a “walk-in”.  One, I would not get any lunch provided by the facility.  Two, I would not be able to attend one of the final day’s sessions being offered by Maureen Brady on using the “New FamilySearch Website” because the amount of pre-registered participants for that session had reached the meximum.  Missing lunch was expected as a walk-in.  But I was sorely going to miss Maureen’s presentation which I was counting on seeing.

Oh well, such are the “lows” of being a “walk-in”.  But I was here.  I was accepted.  And I was ready for the day.

The conference facility also had an incredibly large room for the vendors that

Paul Milner, One Of The Major Speakers, Listening To A Question

are another part of these large conferences.  If you ever wanted to just “shop til you drop” for genealogical materials, be they books, be they clothes, be they other societies, be they Chachkies (spelling?), then the vendor area was the place to be at least some time during the day.

I did get to spend a good time in this area during my missed lunch time.  I could

have gone out to get some lunch but I was still apprehensive about returning and not finding a parking place for the afternoon session.  So instead of going out for lunch I feasted on a $1.50 Snickers bar complements of this little tiny store right by the main hotel desk.

What a “walk-in” won’t do to participate in such a vibrant conference.

Large Group Of Participants Checking Out The Books At A Vendor Booth

I did run into a few of some of you that attend our library’s monthly program.  It was good to see familiar faces in this massive sea of energized researchers.  I enjoyed talking with you and even sitting in on some of the day’s programs with you.

I even ran into many of the speakers I have had at our own program or will have in the not too distant future.  It was nice to be able to rub shoulders with some of the best speakers in our own local area.

I did sit in on the following program segments:

  • “Advanced Search Tips for Ancestry.com” (Juliana Smith)
  • “A Dozen Ways to Jumpstart Your Family History Project” (Lou Szucs and Juliana Smith)
  • “Buried Treasures: What’s in the English Parish Chest?” (Paul Milner)
  • “Branching Out: Connecting with Others Using Social Networking and Online Family Trees” (Jennifer Holik-Urban)

The day went fast.  Excitement was in each program session I attended.  Just

Jennifer Holik-Urban, One Of The Major Speakers, Responding To A Question

think 337 people moving between sessions, the vendor area, the hotel areas, the lunch area.  It sort of reminded me of my days in High School trying to get to point A from point B when the entire school lets out between classes!  But it was fun!

By the time the day ended, I knew I felt all charged-up to take the new tips I learned and start applying them to my own research.  Attending a conference as this is a motivating experience that you want to act on quickly and start thinking about your actions even as you are driving back home.

What a turnout!

What a great set of speakers!

Two Members Of The Polish Genealogical Society Of America (PGSA) Manning Their Booth During The Lunch Hour

What a nice thing for the society to accommodate “walk-ns” even when they know the facility limits are being stretched just to accommodate those that did register.

The DCGS in times past may have had attendance figures in the lower to upper 200 range.  But 337 attendees was astounding and well-deserved because of the program topics and the speakers that were part of the makeup of the annual conference.

My hats off to the society.

Bravo!  You did an outstanding job and deserve to take a bow!

Being a “walk-in” was sort of an “edgy” thing to do.  It worked for me this time.  But I think in the big picture, mark the conference on your calendar and just plain register in advance to take advantage of the discounted prices, the guaranteed lunch and the ability to see all the programs you want to see.

One conference down.

Next year’s conference for the DCGS is already on the calendar.  Mark it down now.

February 23, 2013!

See you then.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

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