You never know what to expect when attending a blogging conference that you have never been to before. Will it be worth the money? What about the food? Are the speakers going to provide information I do not already know? How is the swag? Are people approachable? Will there be time to have some fun? How do I get around the city? What about the night life?
I personally started going to food blogging conferences about two years ago. If you are looking for a magic formula on how you can get 100,000 followers, I do not think any conference can offer you that, but you can draw from other people’s experiences and network. Speaking of networking, I am probably one of the worst people in the world when it comes to laying on my charms and meeting new people, maybe that is why I am still single.
Something I particularly enjoyed and I think many more conferences should offer are the excursions. What an icebreaker! Just a relaxed atmosphere with other people sharing a curiosity or interest. I love farm land, so anything with plants, animals, or equipment, I am down to experience. This conference had trips to a vineyard, an olive ranch, a pear farm, and more. So instead of that awkward moment when you first walk into a meeting room and do not know anybody, you now have familiar faces from the shared activity you just had the day before the conference started.
I really did not know what to expect traveling to Sacramento, California. It was my first trip to the Sunshine state and I was surprised about the cost of airfare coming from Chicago. San Francisco and San Diego were definitely much more reasonably priced. If building tourism to Sacramento is a goal, they will have to get better flight options, but hey I made it. Super Shuttle is a must for any conference and I appreciated the conference rate offered to all attendees. I will say, Sacramento was easy to navigate. They have a rail system for getting around downtown, but I chose to walk or take a cab. No matter what time I left the Hyatt, cabs were easy to come by as I included some sightseeing.
The International Food Blogger Conference was relaxed but organized and from what I could tell, well-run. Sessions started on time and once you checked in and got your badge, it was off to the races. Some of my favorite sessions were about how cider is made, your sense of taste, and travel blogging. We had a chance to taste different types of cider and learn about what goes into judging a cider. I have my judging form and see a cider party coming to my house very soon!
Our taste of smell was put to the test with a blind tasting. Guess who kept her blindfold, it was amazing for sleeping on the plane on the ride back, but let me focus. UC Davis did a great job of explaining the process of preparing olive oil. Sharing information on what makes a high quality olive oil and how it should smell if it is fresh. The fresher the olive oil, the better for your body.
Cider judging was probably my favorite session. My table had hardcore cider drinkers while I was the new kid on the block. Angry Orchard is the extent of what I knew about apple cider, so it was cool to taste new brands with different characteristics. Our presenters also shared how ciders are judged for competition and the training that goes into becoming a cider evaluator. While the travel blogging session offered several do’s and don’ts for working with tourism boards and basic etiquette when traveling on someone else’s dime.
I feel like this was a well-balanced conference with useful information, a fair amount of playtime, and good food. Taste of Sacramento was really good. I had healthy pizza, which was actually good. Everyone in America knows how Chicagoans and New Yorkers are about their pizza, so needless to say, I was impressed. Jimboy Tacos, I heart you. They came with their “A” game and my taste buds were pleased. While I am looking forward to trying out my Capay Valley Ranches olive oil.
International Food Bloggers Conference was a definite win. Registration for 2017 is now open at a discounted rate, and I would definitely recommend anyone interested in food check them out. See you in 2017!