Last weekend was my first SQL Saturday (on a Friday). My husband, Jason Strate (@StrateSQL|blog) , was one of the many coordinators for this event. I offered to help. He put me in charge of the after party, and later, asked me to help get the shirt orders taken care of. I also helped him stuff 350 swag bags (we had 4 younger helpers too).
Being behind the scenes of a SQL Saturday gave me a new perspective of all the hard work that goes into these great events. What makes it so great? Duh – FREE training!! You might get a free shirt, and cool swag from different vendors. One of the vendors even gave out screaming monkeys.
Dealing with budgets, payments, etc can be quite stressful. I was glad I didn’t have to deal with all that. I only had to ask the question “How much do we have to spend?” We ended up finding a GREAT place for shirts. Underground Printing in Dinkytown, Minneapolis, MN, were wonderful to work with. We got very nice green polos for the speakers, and good quality grey t-shirts for all the attendees. People were excited to receive a t-shirt.
The day of the event came, and it was crazy! I had been up until 2:00 am (maybe later) cutting apart lunch tickets and name tags. 5:30 in the morning came WAY too early! I didn’t realize when I committed to helping with the event, that it was a non-school day for my kids. They had to come with. We brought plenty of things for them to do. My 10 year old ended up being a great help with the passing out of t-shirts. I was very thankful for our good friend, Ted Krueger (@onpnt) who helped distract the kids while I was helping out with registration.
We got to Grace Church (where the event was to take place) and got the registration table set up. People were already waiting when we were ready, and we started the check-in process. It was nuts! Over 300 people, all showing up at the same time, waiting to get checked in. I’m not sure how other SQL Saturday events have done it in the past – I’d love to hear. We had 4 people at the table, with names divided up by letter of the alphabet. There were also about 4 (or more) of us grabbing t-shirts, helping people who showed up from the waiting list, and generally helping manage the madness. At one point, I was walking up and down the lines, passing out L and XL shirts to help speed things up some. With so many people working together, I think we did the best we could do. There were some people missing from the lists, some raffle tickets that got mixed up, and weren’t found until later… needless to say, despite the details, things went pretty well.
People had great things to say about the many wonderful speakers, the venue, the swag, etc. With close to 350 people that showed up, I think the event was a success! There’s no way it would have been nearly so successful without all the volunteers that helped put the event on, run the tables, etc. Thank you to EVERYONE from MNPASS who put the event on.
As for the after party, we really wanted to go somewhere where there was karaoke. After all, what’s a PASS event without #sqlkaraoke? Unfortunately, I was unable to find a nearby location that had karaoke. None of the sites I could find on the web had enough information to warrant booking an after party there. Instead, about 20 of us ended up going to Green Mill for appetizers and pizza. I called earlier in the week, and they were able to reserve an area in the back of the restaurant for all of us. The food was delicious! My favorite? The MVP pizza. Of course, I had to post a picture of a slice on facebook saying “Enjoying an MVP with my MVP.”