(This will be a long, photo-heavy post, brought to you by the International Food Bloggers Conference–I’ll be back to posting recipes very shortly)
Well, hello there! I’ve been MIA for a few weeks, between an unexpected trip to Ohio and a planned trip to California. I feel like July slipped out from underneath me, and now that I’m having a chance to catch my breath, it’s only temporary, since our fall rush is about to start at work, and it’s back-to-school time for the bambino.
I’ve been thinking for a little while about how I wanted to approach this post, as what I had envisioned about the conference and the reality of it were vastly different. Don’t get me wrong–I had a great time, especially since some of my blogger buddies from the PMA Fresh Summit were there. And I met some amazing new friends as well.
But I didn’t come away from the conference itself with what I’d expected. I had expected, based on the sessions I chose to attend, to learn more about improving my food writing. There are only so many ways to say “This was delicious, and you should make it too!” I had also hoped to learn more about how food can have a huge impact on lifestyle–Something I’m still struggling with, but something I keep in the back of my mind, now that I’ve got at least two auto-immune diseases.
I had also hoped to learn more about trying to market this here slice of the internets, because even though writing is in my blood, and as Jay is always telling me, even if there wasn’t any money in it, I’d still be doing this. He’s 100% correct. That being said, ingredients, hosting fees, and blogging-related travel all add up, and it would be nice to see a bigger return on my investment. I’m not alone in that, I know.
And it would’ve been nice, because I don’t do so well at marketing myself. It’s due to my introversion, and how it takes me longer to work out what I want to say, and how I want to say it. It also would’ve come in handy, because with two exceptions, I felt somewhat snubbed by most of the vendors, once they found out I’m in South Dakota. It happened repeatedly when I was with Laura, who is from Alaska, and apparently in the world of food blogging, that means she’s some exotic creature from another planet! And before you start thinking I’m being a jerk about it, Laura knows my irritation is NOT in any way, shape or form directed at her–In fact, I’m happy as a clam for her that so many people were interested in her and her blog. She was interviewed by the Sacramento Bee, and I believe wound up on a news segment, too–How cool is that?!
I felt especially rebuffed by the folks from the Sacramento Airport. They were part of the Friday evening Taste of Sacramento, and had a table for people to stop and visit. The gentleman at the table started chatting immediately with Laura–They’re working on getting a direct flight from Alaska (Anchorage, if memory serves) to Sacramento. The two of them stood there chatting, while I did what I always do. Stood there, just listening. During a lull, the guy turns to me and says, “What are you doing? Just tagging along?” I sort of chuckled because I didn’t quite know how to take that, and I think I said something about being a blogger too, and then he asked where I was from. I told him South Dakota, and got a response akin to, “Oh, that’s nice.” I think I wandered off at that point, but thanks to that interaction, the Sacramento Airport gets the side-eye from me now.
That being said, not all the vendors were so rude. One vendor I visited with, Lilly’s Hummus, was familiar with South Dakota, and loves the West River cities and towns! Unfortunately, Lilly’s Hummus isn’t currently available in Brookings, but according to their website, you can find them in Sioux Falls. So that was nice to talk to someone who didn’t think I was just in fly-over country, and therefore didn’t matter as a food blogger (newsflash: We here on the prairie have to eat too!). So, if you’re in Sioux Falls, and you see Lilly’s Hummus, try them!
There was some beautiful scenery, especially in the Sacramento Delta area.
Our farm excursion taught me a lot, and netted me some Endive and Bartlett Pears. I’ll talk more about that trip in a future post. There was also a LOT of amazing food, and we took time to wander around and check out the scenery.
And it culminated in an outdoor dining experience that was elegant, but down-to-earth.
Next year’s IFBC will return to Sacramento, and quite honestly, I don’t know if I’m that keen on returning myself. I will say that while I thought most of the sessions I attended weren’t worthwhile (there were at least two I got up and left), I got a lot more from meeting some great new-to-me bloggers, as well as catching up with old blogging friends. So in that respect, it was a worthwhile trip.
DISCLOSURE: I received a discounted rate to attend the conference in exchange for three posts about my experiences. This is the first of those three posts.