From #23 to #403 – 8 years of SQL Saturday

Many of us are more capable than some of us, but none of us is as capable as all of us.” Tom Wilson

SQL Saturday 403 marks 8 contiguous years of SQL Saturdays in Louisville – which I have had the pleasure of running. I have learnt many, many lessons during these 8 years – lessons on how to run an event on a budget and unpredictable funding, logistics around finding restaurants/caterers, what audience looks for,  what vendors look for, when is the right time and season for an event, who are the right speakers to pick, on and on. But the most important lesson among them all is one of team spirit. Good teams are self managing, where members enjoy what they do,thrive in each other’s company and do it for the love over anything else. I am fortunate to have been blessed with such a team to run our SQL Saturday.

A SQL Saturday team needs to have many skills – we need people who are good at marketing and selling the event to vendors and attendees, we need people who can order food/suggest restaurants/caterers etc, we need people who can do registration and structured work, and we need those invaluable hands who can do just about anything as needed. My team has been with me for 7 years – in the course of which we have lost and gained several people. I lost the person who did our marketing last year, which was one reason why our funding as well as attendance suffered. I was looking for someone with this talent to come on board – when I heard of John Morehouse moving to our town. I had heard of John’s passion for community and the great show they put up at Omaha sql Saturday and invited him onto our team immediately. Along with John we also had Chris Yates – who has been a twitter friend and community enthusiast for a while. Between John and Chris our marketing rocked the attendance and funding like nothing else before.  Some of the highlights of our event this year are as below –

1 We had 254 who registered – about 220 showed up. The registration is the highest to date.
2 Our funding was also highest to date and possibly the highest one has for events of our size.
3 Our signage as always was done very professionally by long time volunteer Deana Ritter. The flutter sign in  particular has become a cheerful landmark of our yearly events and one that is unfailingly appreciated by many people. Deana and her assistant volunteer Bill Murray get on the streets as early as 5 30 AM to put out signs near the highway for attendees coming in to the event.
4 Our sign ins and registration was ably handled by long time volunteer Karen Schuler. Karen is a cheerful presence for every attendee who walks in the door (directing those without speedpass to ‘table of shame’ :)). Speedpass was hugely successful this year with only around 25 people needing printouts at the venue.
5 Our lunch was catered by Mark’s Feed Store – it was hot bbq lunch and greatly appreciated by attendees. Volunteers James King and Bill Murray worked very hard to get arrangements in place to ensure smooth serving, no spillage or damage to carpet in the venue, as well as a cost effective arrangement to suit our budget.
6 All our swag was delivered to long time volunteer Dave Ingram, who carefully brought in every single package without a murmur (and there were many!!).
7 Our snacks, sodas, ice etc were ably taken care of by speaker cum volunteer Kenney Snell.
8 Our event cameraman was TJ Crivits – who has  captured the event in many memorable shots. Personally I see myself going through these when am old and still thinking of what fun it was doing all this. TJ also did a great job with getting the lunch leftovers carted away efficiently to a local soup kitchen.
9 Last but not the least is our volunteer cum speaker cum chapter lead Dave Fackler – whose many mailings helped immensely with publicity to the event. Dave also manned the table for PASS at the event.

During the 8 years of doing SQL Saturdays – we have had great events, good events and events which are kinda okay. We’ve had food deliveries that were missed, key volunteers who could not make it at the very last minute because of personal or work issues, venues that threatened to cancel on us because of weather (one day before, and yes that was our last and will be our last winter event, ever!) , vendors who backed out on sending funds..on and  on. This event was one that did not have any such issue , and was a complete, total success. I am proud and happy to close it out and look forward to event #9, and then soon, a whole decade of SQL Saturdays!!

Links related to our event:
1 Why we speak and volunteer for SQL Saturdays – by Dave Fackler.
2 SQL Sat 403 – Recap by Chris Yates
and one of the best geeky examples of using Powershell to tweet event info –
3 SQL Saturday Speaker Marketing with Powershell – by John Morehouse

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Janis Griffin
    Aug 30, 2015 @ 04:35:29

    What a WONDERFUL write up of a great event! I always want to speak at Louisville! Such a great group of volunteers! Plus a most excellent audience! Thanks so much, Mala, for all your efforts as it’s making a ‘Difference’!
    Janis Griffin
    @Solarwinds @DoBoutAnything

    Reply

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