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Wondering if attending a food blogger conference, like the International Food Blogger Conference, might be right for you? I just got home from Sacramento, California, (America’s Farm-to-Fork-Capital) where I attended the International Food Blogger Conference. I’d like to share with you my thoughts on why I attended. I’ll also tell you why I probably will go back again to the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) in 2017.
To Learn and Grow Professionally:
IFBC offered two sessions that were of particular interest to me. The session on Food and Travel writing was the most fascinating and helpful to me. I also enjoyed the session on Food Waste. The presenters at each of these sessions offered valuable, practical suggestions, which I hope to incorporate into future posts. I also hope to use a few of them as I pitch my ideas to brands, organizations and publications for topics I’d like to cover. The conversations that occurred at our tables, immediately following those sessions, were also important. We had a chance to bounce our own ideas off each other: ideas that had come to us based on having heard the same presentation. A casual remark, made by another attendee in passing can become a catalyst for an entire chain reaction of thoughts. I gained fresh ideas, fresh inspiration, and was offered practical, helpful hints.
To Attend the Pre-Conference Excursions:
I am so very, very glad that I decided to show up a couple of days early! I was concerned about the extra money I’d be spending at the hotel and on meals. But truly, the excursions were, for me, one of the very best parts of the conference. I visited the only facility that grows endive in the US, California Endive Farms . I also visited a family owned pear orchard called Stillwater Orchards. And finally, I visited the beautiful Capay Valley Ranches, where they grow olive trees, almond trees and grapes. That afternoon we visited the mill where they press and bottle their olive oil. Each visit was fascinating – and hot! We were there during a heat wave! I began to appreciate the massive amounts of technology and science that are needed to manage food production successfully. I hope to share more about each of these excursions in future posts.
To Have an Opportunity to Network:
And by networking, I believe that it’s important to make real life connections with fellow bloggers, and with businesses. If you’re looking for ways to connect with others who do what you do, as a food blogger, this is the place! So many of the opportunities that have come my way have come as a result of reaching out, and being willing to get to know, and to make myself known to others.
I thought the city of Sacramento did a terrific job of making us feel welcomed, and of driving home their message of labeling Sacramento as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital. They hosted a lovely dinner outdoors for us using all locally sourced foods. (By the way, did you know that California grows over 400 types of fruits, and vegetables in its fertile fields?)
The thing I thought that the hosts of the conference did best was to connect us as attendees with such food producers as CA Cling Peach Board, CA Almonds, CAPears, Marin French Cheese, Lindsay Olives, the Capay Valley Ranches (who grow olive trees and almond trees and grapes), the American Pistachio Growers, California Walnuts, and California Figs. These are the kinds of natural, unprocessed ingredients that I use most in my cooking, and they’re the kind of organizations I WANT to partner with and develop recipes for, and serve as an ambassador for.
What I Hope Might Be Different Next Year:
My only disappointment about this conference is that I would have loved to have seen more sponsors from the kitchen/cooking supply/culinary world attend. Companies like KitchenAid, OXO, Williams-Sonoma, Best Buy, Lodge Cast Iron or Le Creuset, for example, would have been perfect companies to have attended and partnered with this conference. There was a local-to-Sacramento grocery store that served very generously as a sponsor: Nugget Markets, and Raley’s , which has locations in Northern and Central California, also kindly sponsored us as well. But I also would have loved for the conference to have partnered with grocery stores that had a more nationwide reach. Whole Foods Market is found in 42 states, and Kroger grocery stores, which operate in 34 states, both come to mind, and would have been some other great partners for the event, since many of the attendees were from outside of California. I loved that Clarksburg Wine Company sponsored us, (really enjoyed their Chenin Blanc!) and I hope that next year, even more of those great California wines will be represented.
Sacramento has been kind enough to volunteer to host us again, next year, for 2017, and I’m interested to see who the sponsors will be, where the excursions will be, and what the topics will be. I’m hoping that the same sponsors will want to come back again, and then some! If you are a blogger who posts regularly, the early bird pricing for tickets ($100.00 off the already low ticket price of $195.00) is available through August 31st, so you and I both need to go ahead and act on that pricing quickly! It will be held slightly later in the year, from Sept. 29th – Oct. 1st. Here’s a link that will help you make up your mind: IFBC Sacramento, 2017.
Sunday 14th of August 2016
I totally agree with your top 3 reasons: meeting fellow bloggers, touring the endive and pear farm, and learning about new things were my favorite parts. Less good was the vegetarian entree at the Saturday dinner (completely ignored the fact that summer produce was at its peak) and one of the sessions I attended.
I share your disappointment about the lack about equipment companies -- some demos could have attracted significant attention.
After reading your post, I remembered that there was no representation from the publishing industry. This seemed like a big oversight: bloggers review and publicize cookbooks, bloggers seek and get book contracts, and some of the most lively cookbook publishers are based in the SF Bay Area (Ten Speed Press and Chronicle Books, to name two). A table of recently released books and pre-prints of forthcoming titles could have generated a lot of buzz for publishers and authors. (Book writing or book reviewing might also be a good topic for a session, e.g., "tips on reviewing cookbooks and food memoirs", "How I got my book deal".) My recent post Growing Belgian Endive is "A Really Wacky Process" - Touring California Endive Farms
Monday 15th of August 2016
Good insights, Marc! Thanks for reading, and commenting. I really appreciate it, and agree with your thoughts on cookbook publishing in particular. Are we their target audience, or what???
Tuesday 9th of August 2016
Thinking I should come next year! Love these photos. My recent post Essential Oils Can Help Reduce Workplace Stress
Tuesday 9th of August 2016
You would love it!!!!! Lots of great food!
The Wimpy Vegetarian
Saturday 6th of August 2016
It was so nice to meet you at the conference!
Saturday 6th of August 2016
It was most enjoyable to follow along on your California culinary adventure! The excursions looked great!