This past weekend I had the great opportunity to attend my first blogging conference: BlogHer Food 2012. It was a very interesting and almost over stimulating experience - so much information and so many amazing people to meet. I'll admit that I got a bit star struck seeing Tory Avey, Molly Wizenburg, Terry Walters, and Elise Bauer. And a bit teary eyed listening to Diane Cu, Todd Porter, and Kim Sunee.
Under normal circumstances, I could never afford to attend a conference like this - so when I found out that BlogHer Food was headed to Seattle I applied for a "BlogHership". Sort of a take off of an internship, a BlogHership allows you to attend the conference without the fee in exchange for volunteering your time to help out with conference operations. I was very fortunate to be accepted as a "mic wrangler" - which meant I was assigned to run the microphone to participants during several sessions.
The conference was a great opportunity to meet new blogger friends in real life! It was wonderful chatting with Karen of Cooking Gluten Free, talking travel with Christina of The Rowdy Chowgirl, meeting Portlander Geanna of Green Vegan Living, mic wrangling with Autumn of Food Wise Nutrition, and having lunch with my twitter buddy Janae of Bring Joy!
Another interesting opportunity at the conference was the chance to talk with some brand representatives from companies like Bob's Red Mill and Lundberg Family Farms. It was particularly great to meet Cassidy Stockton from Bob's after she talked about brands and relationships with bloggers during Saturday's morning keynote. She had so many helpful things to say which have inspired me to branch out of my comfort zone a bit.
While I didn't expect any gluten free friendly food options at the conference, there was a small table at each meal and snack break with a small selection of gluten free OR vegan options. Unfortunately for me, many of the options involved soy or berries - so I stuck with all the fresh fruit that available (the cherries were delicious!) and the Larabars and Zingbars I had brought with me.
Oh and I suppose I should mention the swag...there was a lot and it was quite fun since I've never really received "swag". I'm most excited about trying the new coconut palm sugar from Wholesome Sweeteners, using the Aladdin BPA-free lunch container and double-walled drink container, and enjoying my chocolate sticks from American Heritage which are gluten, dairy, and soy free!
Stay tuned for another post next week with my take aways from the conference and the sessions I attended...
Have you ever attended a blogging conference? What was your favorite part of the experience?