Around early September, we start getting anxious around her. The care-free days of summer begin to shorten. The happy giggles of Eco-Campers are in the rear-view mirror. The CSA shares offer up their tremendous bounty. It’s not because of these occurrences that start to get anxious. No, they’re simply a reminder for us that the seasons are beginning to change to winter, and for us, winter is focused on one thing: making Back to Basics the best event it can be.
First things first, the crew needs to pick a theme. What makes a theme so robust as to make it the central idea on which the event revolves? There are countless avenues to go down. Should we highlight healthy eating? Homesteading? Sustainability basics? The “best” event must have a theme to bring the crowd in.
Or perhaps it’s HUGE vendor area that needs to be focused on first? Do we have the largest sustainability fair in northern Minnesota as the draw to encourage attendees?
Or is it to secure a dynamite keynote speaker? Is that what makes B2B an annual draw? Certainly having well-known, well-spoken leaders in the sustainability field is the key, right? We’ve had educators, restaurateurs, city-planners, and even environmental activists in our keynote position.
Well, this year, our keynote speaker was the dynamic leader, J. Drake Hamilton. A national energy policy leader, Hamilton is committed to showcasing the possibilities of renewable energy and touting the strides being made in the pursuit of a more renewable energy source.
So, with Hamilton’s enthusiasm in mind, the decision was made to make the theme focused on energy, or more precisely, what you can do with the right amount of energy. With the theme of “The Power of Change” finally being decided (after many back and forths), there was nothing to do, but to put together the most attended B2B yet.
With over 400 attendees, B2B 2017 embraced the theme. Nora W. (of Nature Notes fame!) said, “From the start of the planning process to the day of the event, we were overwhelmed by the community’s enthusiasm for the event!”
She continued, “We had more presenter and vendor/exhibitor proposals, more volunteers, and more new participants than ever before – an exciting feat for the event’s 11th year.”
Attendee comments ranged from the encouraging (“Keep up the good work!”) to the appreciative (“Loved the variety and the quality of the vendor section”) to the inspired (“Awesome as always, so many seminars to choose from, great job!!!”).
Setting attendance records, vendor booth records, and new attendee records for the event is a great way to know that HDT seems to be doing something right. It’s through the hard work of the Sustainability & Stewardship team (Quinn S, Michelle H, and Nora W) that Back to Basics is becoming a staple in the winter months. People are expecting a quality event and that’s only because year after year, the event somehow manages to get better and better.
The volunteers that take an entire Saturday (and Friday evening) to help make the event as successful as at it can be are to be commended. We had the tons of help setting up, helping during workshops, taking (thousands of) pictures, answering questions, tearing down, and SO MUCH MORE.
In other words, this event may start in early fall, but it comes together through planning, back and forth dialogue, elbow grease, late nights, and early mornings. This year’s event exceeded expectations and appears only to be gaining steam to become bigger and better every continual year.
So, good job Quinn, Michelle, Nora!