The Whirlwind That Is October – Part 2

October has been such a whirlwind of PASS activity for me. Two SQL Saturdays and the PASS Summit. This post is about the second SQL Saturday I attended in Charlotte, SQL Saturday #452, on October 17, 2015, where I was a member of the organizing team. You can read about my first SQL Saturday here.

I have been an attendee and volunteer for the SQL Saturday in Charlotte that is put on by CBIG for the last 3 years. This year I was approached by one of their fearless leaders, Rafael Salas (B | T), to help out as one of the organizers. How cool is that?!

Let me start by saying I love, absolutely love, helping out as an organizer.   But with that said, wow, it’s a whole lot of work! So the next time you attend a SQL Saturday, be sure to find the organizers and thank them for the event. They do this on their own time and don’t get paid for any of it.

Since I’ve volunteered for registration at several SQL Saturdays (in addition to Charlotte) over the past 4 years and I’ve been on the PASS Program Committee for six years, I decided I could be of most use helping out with speaker selection, session scheduling and registration on the day of the event.

We had a great team of organizers this year, Rafael Salas (B | T), Javier Guillen (B | T), Jason Thomas (B | T), Elizabeth Ricks (T), Don Sparks and me. In the past Melissa Coates (B | T) has been one of the organizers and even though she is not on the team this year she definitely deserves an honorable mention as she put a lot of the processes in place to help make sure things run smoothly. Thank you Melissa!

One of the reasons SQL Saturday was developed was to encourage local speakers. Well, the CBIG team believes in that mission wholeheartedly. We were able to accept sessions from all the local speakers plus some great regional/national speakers.

The event was held at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) again this year. It’s a great venue with lots of light and room. All the sponsors were wonderful and had great give-a-ways for the attendees. We only had one speaker cancel in the last week prior to the event and that was beyond his control – clients, what can you do?! Andy Leonard (B | T) was so gracious and stepped up to fill the empty slot without hesitation, Thank you Andy!

We changed things up for the speaker dinner on Friday night. Instead of having just speakers, we included our sponsors and some of our very dedicated volunteers and called it our Appreciation Dinner. The food was delicious and the venue was perfect. I had the opportunity to talk with some speakers and sponsors I’d never met before. Thank you to both groups for all that you do for the community, we wouldn’t be able to put on such a great event without your support.

There were 588 people registered and 328 people actually attend. That’s a 55% turn out, which isn’t great, but it is pretty good. We had some amazing volunteers there helping us out both the night before for setup and during the event on Saturday. This is the fourth year I’ve been involved with this SQL Saturday and it really does just keep getting better every year.

Needless to say the day of the event went by in the blink of an eye. One minute my alarm was going off at 5:45 a.m., the next we were headed out the doors to the after event party. Several speakers and volunteers joined us at the after event party at Grapes Bistro & Wine Bar. The food was spectacular and the setup of the venue allowed for an easy flow of conversation. Slava Murygin (B | T) was there to take lots of pictures too. BTW – You can view them here for the Appreciation Dinner and here for the Event and after event party. Thank you Slava for all the pics, you did a great job.

I’m kind of sad that it’s over, but I really do need to catch up on some sleep. I am looking forward to next year and hope that we will see you there.

Well done CBIG!

The Whirlwind That Is October – Part 1

October has been such a whirlwind of PASS activity for me. Two SQL Saturdays and the PASS Summit. This post is about the first SQL Saturday I attended in Raleigh, SQL Saturday #445, on October 10, 2015, where I was both volunteer and attendee.

This event is put on by the Triangle Area SQL Server User (TriPASS). Brett Tomson (L | T) has long been the leader of this group but recently handed the reigns over to Kevin Feasel (L | T). Kevin and Brett did a great job. They had awesome speakers, great sponsors and wonderful volunteers (yes, I am including myself in that).

This year’s event was at a new venue, William Peace University. It was a smaller venue than last year, but it worked. It’s a beautiful campus with very friendly staff who were willing to help out in any manner they could.

Being the morning person that I am, I got up at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday to make the 90+ mile drive to Raleigh. I helped out with registration in the morning, which is always one of my favorite volunteer activities. You get to see EVERYONE that’s attending; speaker, sponsor and attendee alike. It gives me a chance to give #sqlhugs to my #sqlfamily to start the day off.   What could be better than that?!

I was able to attend two sessions, which were fabulous. Then I finished off my volunteer duties by taking lunch tickets at the Dining Hall. That’s right, I said Dining Hall. Because we were at WPU, the organizers were able to take advantage of the campus Dining Hall and the people that staff it. There was quite the selection from the salad bar, sandwich bar and dessert bar. The only bar missing was the bar with alcohol, but we still had afternoon sessions, so I guess that was for the best. This is the first SQL Saturday that I’ve attended where lunch was not brought in. I’m sure it was nice for the organizers because they didn’t have to worry about getting volunteers to help with lunch setup, wrangling coolers for soda/water or clean up and attendees had a very wide selection to choose from.

After lunch I was able to go visit the vendors and chat with them while attendees were in session. I even snagged one of the coveted bacon scented T-shirts from Micron (be forewarned, even after three washings it still smells like bacon).

After getting up so early, I was spent, and since I had to make the 90+ mile trip home, I decided to head home early. I missed the end of the day raffle and after event party, but I hear they were both entertaining, to say the least.

Huge thank you and congratulations goes out to the organizers of SQL Saturday #445, job well done.