I’m back sitting at my desk in my home office after a wild week of work. My colleagues at Spud Smart and myself hosted and planned the first ever Canadian Spud Congress last week. While there were a few hiccups, for the most part the event was a success and we’ve all been taking a well-earned break after two days of jam-packed congress life.
The Canadian Spud Congress was a completely new work experience for me. I’ve attended tons of conferences in the past, both in-person and virtual, but I’ve never planned one. The closest experience I’ve had is planning our regular Spud Smart webinars, but a conference is like one of those webinars’ times a million. I’m not going to lie, there was a lot of stressful moments over the last few months, not just for myself but also for my colleagues who had never planned a conference before either. There were some late nights, lots of weekends spent checking emails and some tears cried, but in the end, we pulled it off.
Of course, we didn’t do it all by ourselves. Our partners, the provincial and national associations were a huge help. On my side we had Zoom meetings where they gave me ideas for session topics and speakers, and then spent months answering emails from me with various questions. There is no way I could have planned the sessions without their thoughts, contacts and in some cases moderating duties. Our national and provincial potato associations have huge knowledge bases, and I am so thankful they were willing to share that knowledge with me. They also helped us with advertising, so we were able to reach a larger base and get more of you attend the congress.
So, thank you to the national and provincial potato associations for everything you’ve done.
Another important part of any conference is the sponsors (it’s also an important part of the Spud Smart website and every issue we print). These are the companies that pay us to get their name out there and because of them we’re able to host events like the Canadian Spud Congress. So, thank you to all of our sponsors, who enthusiastically embraced this new event and took part in all of sections of the virtual platform.
The presenters who took time out of their busy schedules to make presentations were an integral part to the congress. These presentations were interesting and taught me a lot. Because the congress was virtual, we were able to have presenters from across North America and even into Europe. I was lucky that almost everyone I asked to present said yes. Thank you to our presenters and I can promise you’ll probably hear from me again in the future when I’m working on Spud Smart stories.
The two days of the congress were busy. For myself I was online on the virtual platform all day. I attended every session and tried to help out to make sure your questions were answered, while also tweeting away anything I thought was interesting (check out #SpudCon on Twitter for all of these interesting tidbits). When we had breaks, I was in the Spud Shed trying to talk to as many of you as possible. I loved those conversations as I got to see some familiar faces and meet some new people. I even had a few story ideas for the summer issue pitched to me. And then in the hours when the congress wasn’t happening, I was busy doing behind the scenes work and last-minute preparation, which included filming bits and putting together the daily congress Spud Cast. To prove how busy I was, my inbox was a mess this morning as I finally had time to catch up on all the emails I had ignored during the congress.
While I did enjoy the congress there’s a part of me that’s thankful it’s over. Conferences are always so much fun, but they’re also a lot of work. For myself I have the spring issue of Spud Smart coming up right away and I’m excited to have a few stories in there based on presentations from the Canadian Spud Congress. So, now I plan to get back to my regular work and putting out another issue of Spud Smart, but I hope you all enjoyed the congress as much as I did.