Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Conference

This conference has been my baby for the past four years now. I usually start planning in January and that makes for a longgggg and hectic 5 - 6 months. The target audience for the conference includes state legislators, mayors, county judges, rural fire fighters, local community leaders and community development professionals who are interested in the future development of the State of Arkansas. This year we had over 600 attendees and over 70 Legislators in attendance. Which is WONDERFUL but which also means a lot more stress for me. Don't get me wrong. I absolutely LOVE my job and I love planning this conference but it gives me ulcers. when you are in charge of the entire conference and everything that happens or doesn't happen, it puts a lot of pressure on you. All week long I was constantly being pulled in a million directions and if you know me, you know that I am a detail-oriented perfectionist. That may just be an understatement actually. This is the week that I get no sleep (because I am up all night thinking about everything that needs to be done the next day) and I barely eat (because I am so stressed out that the thought of food just makes me sick). But I got through it and it was very successful and everyone had a great time. I can't ask for anything more.

We always head to our conference destination (Hot Springs or Eureka Springs...this year Hot Springs) a day earlier so we can get settled in and have a staff meeting. I always hire 3 - 4 extra girls to help during the week of the conference. Usually, we just hang out in one of the suites and order pizza and have our staff meeting but this year was different. in a very good way. one of our sponsors, Ted Mullenix, who is a Lobbyist, invited us along with our Commissioners and some of our other sponsors to his lakehouse for steaks...some of the best steaks I've ever had at that. It was just absolutely gorgeous and definitely a great way to start the conference. Boy, I needed that night just to sit by the pool and the lake and just take a deep breath and relax. of course, i really didn't relax all that much at all but i faked it pretty well. :)

The conference officially kicked off on Tuesday, the 2nd of June. We had our Commission meeting and the Opening Welcome. We also had our "USDA - Rural Development" panel as well as the "Lottery in Arkansas" panel at which Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter was one of our speakers. Tuesday evening, we went to the Oaklawn Jockey Club for dinner and then went to their new gaming facility to try to win some $$$$$. I didn't play. I just got my $15 in free game play and stuck in my pocket. graham needs wipes. ha!

ARDC Commission Meeting

Opening Welcome
Lt. Governor Bill Halter

My awesome staff at Oaklawn
Kelsey, Holland, Morgan, Shana, Lauren and Brittney

Wednesday's panels included "Strengthening Rural Fire Departments", "Community Development in Arkansas", "Looking Back at the 87th General Assembly" with Doug Thompson with the Arkansas News Bureau moderating, and the "Political Roundtable" with John Brummett with the Arkansas News Bureau moderating. All of the panels throughout the conference were well attended and very informative. At Wednesday's Luncheon, we had the Attorney General Dustin McDaniel as our guest speaker. That evening, Representative Roebuck and her husband, Dr. Roebuck has us at their lakehouse for dinner. They are so kind to have us at their place every time that we are in Hot Springs. They are the best! After dinner, we came back to the convention center for karaoke, dancing and live music from J.R. Rogers and the All Stars. J.R. is one of our State Representatives and he put on quite the show. It was so much fun!! He lit his piano on fire and let me tell you, there were a lot of nervous people in the room that thought they were about to get a good shower from the fire sprinklers. Good thing they didn't go off.

Two of our state Representatives at the exhibit area (we had 32 exhibitors!!! more than we have ever had!!)

Luncheon w/Attorney General McDaniel

Legislative Dinner at the Roebucks

J.R. Rogers and the All Stars

Thursday was our last day!!! YAY!!! The panel discussions that we had for Thursday were "Good Roads and Transportation" and the "Grant Writing Workshop". We also had our Grant Awards Luncheon with Governor Mike Beebe as the keynote speaker.

My husband told me that I should start my own business of party planning, etc. I nearly whacked his head off. Once a year is fun and fine with me. But if I had to do this all of the time, I would be a crazy woman. but on the bright side, it could be a great weight loss plan for me.


jill said...

wow! i'm majorly impressed!!!!

Lucy said...

Way to go Steph!! It looks like you had a GREAT conference this year and that is no surprise at all. I love seeing Kelsey, Morgan and Lauren's faces in the pic! It makes me miss Butch too. The DRS Conference is the best and way to go because YOU make it happen. Way to go on another great year!!