|photography and food styling workshop|
This past weekend was the very first conference of the Food Bloggers of Canada. Three very ambitious Canadian bloggers came together under a year ago to start a community and that short time have managed to gather an impressive number of bloggers, an even more impressive group of corporate sponsors, an interactive web site full of resources, support and information. Oh, and they also managed to put together a weekend long conference at the beautiful Hockley Valley Resort completely packed with endless panels of experts on everything from book keeping to publishing a cookbook, delicious food, copious amounts of Ontario wines and so much swag that I had to empty out my suitcase leave all of my clothing at the hotel. After eating nonstop for three days it's not like any of them fit now anyway.
I really wanted to go but couldn’t justify the money spent to myself. I am a mom and most moms know how that goes, right. Any large expenditure goes toward the kid or the family and we can only think of the 300 other things we should be doing for everyone else with that money. It just seemed too self indulgent to spend a big chunk of change on my much loved hobby so I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be attending. My blogging buddy, Robyn from planet byn, tried her best to convince me to come but I just couldn’t see it happening and so she signed up on her own.
Then, FBC held a twitter party in conjunction with Canada Beef and they were going to give away two passes to the conference. I never win big stuff like that but I had never participated in a twitter event so I signed up. Worse case scenario, it was an hour of my time and I would finally find out how these twitter parties work. I had imagined a bunch of people sitting side by side at a long table, tweeting to each other all night - oh wait, that’s a blogger conference!
Anyway, that night came, I got cosy on the couch with pillows and my couch blanky , made sure my phone was all charged up and anxiously awaited the start of this party. For the next hour, I struggled to keep up. It was a flurry of frantic twittering, questions asked by the hosts and then what felt like a million answers every few seconds but I just put my head down and kept typing. People were winning great prizes along the way and I just kept NOT winning, which is what I expected. The end of the hour came felt like it was ending as soon as it stared. I had won nothing but I know felt like I kind of understood how these twitter events operate. I was about to close my twitter down and play a rousing game of word welder when I saw my name. SMmamashack had won the first of the two passes to the conference.
SHUT THE FRONT DOOR
I won a golden ticket. I was going to the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference along with almost 100 other Canadian food bloggers from across the country. Canada Beef was treating me to a weekend in Hockley Valley where I was going to learn that I know NOTHING about publishing, html tags, working with brands, recipe development or book keeping. I was also going to learn that there is no shame in being labeled a Canadian food blogger and that there is no need to sound generic to try to appeal to a wider audience and that we should all proudly share our unique Canadian perspective and stories. I would learn that the bloggers from Calgary are hysterically funny and can drink me under the table. I would see the organizer’s thoughtful gestures like staging a mocktail bar for the members who are proudly in recovery and couldn’t enjoy all of those local wines offered at every meal. I would see brand sponsors enthusiastically wanting to attend the workshops so they could better understand the role of the food blogger and better enable them to build real relationships with us. I would learn that there is an endless variety of food bloggers. There are photographers who write. There are writers who take pictures. There are bakers, home chefs, professional chefs, nutritionists, canners and a woman who grew up raising goats and churning butter sitting next to a big city restaurant eater who doesn’t really cook at home. I learned that only the coolest people would be the group happily wandering around the lobby, crowding into the bar to start the party, barely noticing that the power had been off all afternoon, not knowing if it was ever coming back but not caring and making the best of it.
|the swag bag snacks that were going to be dinner if the power didn't come back on|
I am an introverted extrovert so I didn’t meet as many bloggers as I would have liked to. I love my computer because I like to remain hidden behind my screen, communicating with written word and I would rather email or text than talk on the phone any day. I prefer letting my fingers do the talking because my day job as a make up artist forces me to be be “on” constantly and to be, quite literally, up in people’s grills all day long and this doesn’t come naturally to me at all. 30 years of practice means I can now pull it off effectively in short bursts but it takes a lot out of me and I refuel by retreating to my computer which is probably why I am a food blogger, right?
|this was the type of site that greeted us every time we walked out into a hallway. By Sunday we waddled.|
|kitchen aid canada put on a milk shake bar for us|
|shiny happy people getting ready for movie night|
|Canada Beef and Mushroom Canada sponsored dinner on the first night|
|Those perky Turkey Farmers of Canada fed us on the second night|
You know, I am okay one on one or in small groups but in larger groups I can get overwhelmed and feel all awkward and weird. I tend to mask my shyness in big bursts of loud mouthed gregariousness and then I retreat back to my corner and continue in my comfortable role as voyeur and eavesdropper. But I did see all of you. I heard all of you. I appreciated all of you even if I never introduced myself or started up a conversation with you. Each and everyone of you, every panel member and ever participant inspired me to be better, to take more care with my writing, to pay more attention to the people who read my blog, to reach a bit higher and dream a little bigger.
I will work on that and by next year, at the second annual Food Bloggers of Canada conference, I might be ready to just jump into the pool. I hope I remember my bathing suit because it won’t be pretty if I don’t.
Big thanks to Mardi Michels, Ethan Adeland and Melissa Hartfiel for having the vision and commitment to make all of this happen and to all of the volunteers who ran their asses off to make sure everything ran smoothly. Also, big ups to Canadian Beef for ticket to the conference. I will eat a big, juicy steak in your honour.