RootsTech starts Thursday! And with the RootsTech Expo hall one day pass costing $19.99 this year, you’ll want to know before you go that you'll get your money’s worth. But the $19.99 gets you more than the expo hall. You gain entrance to that day’s keynote. There are some fascinating people you can come see.
- Thursday - Paula Williams Madison, Bruce Feiler and Steve Rockwood. Paula is an author, filmmaker, and retired NBC Executive. She’s just produced a movie about discovering her Chinese family. It is titled Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China. Bruce Feiler is a New York Times best-selling author, columnist, and frequent contributor to NPR, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. Among genealogists he is most known for his New York Times article, “The Stories That Bind Us,” wherein he reports on research showing the correlation between a child’s knowledge of her family history and her ability to cope with challenges. Steve Rockwood is the newly appointed president and CEO of FamilySearch International.
- Friday - Naomi Davis and David Isay. Naomi Davis is known by millions of viewers online as “Taza,” from her blog, Love Taza. (Millions!? That certainly humbles someone with only 100,000 readers, plus or minus 99,999. [Thanks, Mom!]) David Isay is an author, documentarian, and founder of StoryCorps. StoryCorps is an award-winning organization that provides people of all backgrounds and beliefs the opportunity to record, share, and preserve life stories.
- Saturday - Michael O. Leavitt and Doris Kearns Goodwin. Michael O. Leavitt served in the cabinet of President George W. Bush as Administrator of the EPA and Secretary of Health and Human Services, and as a three-time elected governor of Utah. Doris Kearns Goodwin is a world-renowned presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize–winning author. I know her best as the author of Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. She helped with the film Lincoln, which grossed $275 million at the box office and earned 12 Academy Award nominations, including an Academy Award for actor Daniel Day-Lewis.
The expo hall gives you access to a large assemblage of genealogy-related product vendors and organizations. Many offer show discounts. Additionally, there are some free activities and opportunities. Among them are:
Family Discovery Zone—Sponsored by FamilySearch The family discovery zone will be a fun, interactive experience and will feature new technologies to help you discover and connect your family and stories.
- Photo Scanning Area: Bring your family photos. Make digital copies for free that you can preserve, share, and upload to FamilySearch Family Tree.
- Recording Booth: Record your story. Your private recording session includes 10 minutes of recording time in a sound booth. You get a free copy on a flash drive.
- Record a Call. Call a parent, grandparent, or someone who inspires you, and find out more about his or her life. The FamilySearch app will record the conversation and give you a personal copy as well.
FamilySearch Scanning Booth Get your family book scanned for free. They will make a digital copy, and you'll keep the original and a searchable PDF. You can do personal works, family journals, and books that are in the public domain.
Demo Theater—Sponsored by Backblaze Curious about the newest in family history products and services? Take a seat, and listen to demonstrations by RootsTech sponsors and exhibitors. The 15-minute demos will be scheduled daily during Expo Hall hours.
Cyber Café—Sponsored by Dell Refresh and recharge at the Cyber Café. The café offers wireless Internet access, recharging stations for devices, and free soda (or pop or cola, depending on where you’re from). The staff from the Family History Library will also be there to offer one-on-one help.
Innovation Alley New to the RootsTech Expo Hall will be the Innovation Alley, where you’ll get a chance to view the latest technology and tools in the family history industry.
E-Z Photo Scan Scanning Booth Attendees can have their prints and slides scanned for free. Bring your photo prints, scrapbook pages and slides to booth 1109 during exhibit hours Thursday-Saturday. To make image storage easy, E-Z Photo Scan will use technology to make photos available to attendees after the event.
Media Hub This is where the bloggers gather with the fiction that they will get some writing done. While the general public is not allowed inside the hub, you can walk up to the pipe-and-drape and say hello to your favorite bloggers, or get a closer look at keynote speakers while they are being interviewed. (I may or may not have photo-bombed a DearMYRTLE interview last year. I don't even remember who she was interviewing… I mean, hypothetically, if I had, which may or may not have happened.) Remember the code: if you post a picture of the Ancestry Insider you must obscure most of my face (think Wilson from Home Improvement).
Expo Hall Hours
- Thursday, February 4, 2016: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- Friday, February 5, 2016: 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- Saturday, February 6, 2016: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
There is a complete map of the RootsTech expo hall and list of exhibitors on the RootsTech website. What you won't find on the website is a list identifying which vendor will be in which booth. That’s a closely guarded secret. Or maybe they're doing it like Southwest Airlines. The first vendor to show up gets to pick any available booth. Seriously, booth assignments are available on the app.
Hope to see you in the Expo Hall!