TulsaTechFest_2008

Last week at this time I was sitting in my hotel room in Tulsa amazed at how AWESOME the 3rd annual Tulsa TechFest had turned out.  I personally had given two talks back-to-back on How to Add Style to Your WPF and Silverlight Applications, and had gotten to meet a lot of great people that come from all over to visit the conference.  David Walker and company did a FANTASTIC job of putting this year’s event together, and I’m happy to say that it was a rousing success!  If you don’t know David already, please make sure you get out to the next Tulsa Developers meeting and introduce yourself.  He’s a fantastic guy who is an amazing community leader.

My favorite part of the Tulsa TechFest experience is the number of choices you have for which sessions you’d like to see. Unlike most conferences, TTF had 19 tracks across 17 different subjects.  This gives each person a great opportunity to see what they want at every step of the day.  The number of tracks does reduce the overall attendance numbers at each session, but I’ve found that you get an overall better experience because you’re able to have a much closer conversation between the audience and the speaker.  As a speaker, it was great to have such a level of interactivity – it often went beyond just the typical question-answer and evolved more into a conversation.  For me, this raises the overall quality of the experience even though I’m not presenting to as many people at one time.  This is totally cool, of course, because it’s not about how many people I present to, it’s about what people get out of my presentation.  From that perspective, I think that TTF08 was one of the most successful speaking engagements I’ve ever had.

Our booth was also a happenin’ place again this year.  We expanded a little bit due to logistics challenges.  Last year, as you probably remember, we had a nice TV setup in the corner by the door where we had our XBOX 360 running non-stop with Guitar Hero.  This year, we weren’t able to bring the TV (because my new van doesn’t have a trailer hitch) so we opted for using a projector with a screen.  The screen was the rear-projection model, so we ended up having to take up twice as much space this year as last year just to get everything to fit.  This was a blessing in disguise because it created a great place for us to sit and talk with people that came by the booth instead of having to stand around the game players and talk over the music.  I was able to sit and chat with a lot of people this time around because of that lucky happenstance, and will definitely try to incorporate that type of clean sitting area at each of my future events. 

Anyway – the event was AWESOME and I can’t wait for next year.  Until then, we still have Houston TechFest, Dallas TechFest and the newly minted Dallas MSDN Developer Conference (more on this one soon) to look forward to, so there will be no shortage of great conferences to attend for the rest of this year.  For those with crazy calendars like mine, next year’s Tulsa TechFest is tentatively scheduled for Thu, Oct 22 & Fri, Oct 23, 2009.

Some interesting statistics from TTF 08:

  • 19 sessions
  • 469 pounds of food for the Oklahoma Food Bank
  • Over 1000 people attended across 2 days, with over 650 unique visitors (which still makes this the largest community-run event I know about in Microsoft’s Central Region)

Here’s also a list of the “press" clippings I was able to cobble together:

If you didn’t get out to Tulsa, you really missed a fantastic event.  Please make sure to put the next Tulsa TechFest (Thu, Oct 22 & Fri, Oct 23, 2009) on your calendar today so you can join us next time.

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