The tech event community is growing again. Years ago, GeekCruises (now named InSight Cruises) pioneered the traincation concept, and last year SQLCruise brought that theme to the SQL Server community. The new Startup Workaway brings tech founders to Costa Rica for startup sprints – a mix of work and play. Red Gate’s SQL in the City invites database geeks to Los Angeles and London for a day of sessions. If you want to learn and play, there’s a lot of fun options.
Now Denny Cherry, a longtime SQL Server community member, MVP, and author, and his wife Kris have formed a new event: SQL Excursions. The first event is in Napa, California in September. I talked to Denny about launching the new event.
Brent: Congratulations on launching SQL Excursions! What made you take the big step?
Denny: Thanks Brent we are thrilled to be getting SQL Excursions off the ground. Kris and I put SQL Excursions together for a couple of different reasons. I wanted to be able to do some more speaking and teaching which is something which I love to do, and we wanted to put something together which would give spouses / significant others a way to go on the trip and having something fun for everyone to do. As you’ve probably noticed, Kris comes on a lot of my trips with me, and to often she ends up going to the dinners and parties and doesn’t really have anyone to talk to that isn’t a SQL Server person, and apparently she doesn’t find talking about SQL Server all day exciting. We see these events as a way to get some great technology information to the technology folks, and get the significant others to see a small piece of what we do, while giving them some fun events to go to.
Brent: I can see why Kris would love this. What kinds of events is she planning during the day while the SQL Server training happens, and what kind of training are you doing?
Denny: On Thursday and Friday during the day the guests of the attendees will be off on a full day wine tour, which we haven’t set the price for yet (we need to know the interest level before we can set the price). On Saturday there will be another full day wine tour for all the attendees and their guests which will also be an optional day. Tom LaRock and I haven’t set the training schedule yet. We will be putting up a survey with some topic options that we’d like to talk about so we can have the community vote on which of those topics will be covered. The training will all be 300-400 level sessions.
Brent: How’d you pick Napa as the first location?
Denny: We picked Napa as the first location as lots of people love wine, and I’ve never heard of anyone not having a good time in Napa. For people that decide to come to Napa a couple of days early or stay a couple of days after (like Kris and I are doing) there is tons of stuff to do in downtown Napa. There are several extremely good restaurants, as well as several tasting rooms. All this is just a short few minute walk from the hotel that we have selected for our first SQL Excursion.
Brent: I noticed you said walk, and that’s a really good thing. I, for one, love wine tastings, and driving home afterwards isn’t an option!
Denny: Drinking and driving is never an option, no matter what event you are at. The great thing about Napa is that the downtown area has lots of stuff to do right there. For official events which are away from downtown and away from the hotel, we’ll be getting shuttle vans to get everyone to where we are going. If someone wants to venture out on their own Napa is just that short walk or few dollar cab ride away.
Brent: Both you and Tom do a lot of travel – I see you at all the big conferences. With SQL Excursions, this is yet another event – are you still going to all the other events like the PASS Summit and TechEd?
Denny: You are correct we both do a lot of traveling to do presentations and I don’t see SQL Excursions taking away from any of these other conferences. Conferences like PASS, Tech Ed, EMC World, and Connections are a major part of my continuing professional education and I will always do my best to attend, and speak (when they’ll have me), at them.
Brent: Who’s the perfect person to go on SQL Excursions Napa?
Denny: I would say that someone who is a mid to senior level DBA who is looking for two days of solid 300-400 level material while having a great time in Napa with other data professionals. Now you definitely do not need to know anything about wine to come to Napa, god knows I don’t know much about wine. During lunch in addition to learning about SQL Server, we’ll also be having some instructors come in to teach about wine, and how to find a wine that works for you. If any of this sounds like a good time to you, this is definitely an event to look at.
Brent: What do you want your attendees to take away from the event that’s different than typical events?
Denny: Oh course we want our attendees to get some great SQL Server knowledge out of the week. We also want them to have a great social experience that at the larger conferences people aren’t always able to do because they get left behind and lost in the mass of people that are there. At our Napa SQL Excursion it’ll be a small group, so there won’t be any getting left behind with everyone having the option of getting together with the group for dinner after the sessions. We’ve got some great after events that we are still working on getting setup which will make for a great way for the attendees and their guests to mingle and have a great time.
Brent again here. I think this event looks like a lot of fun, and I wish I could attend – but if I add any more travel to my fall schedule, Erika’s going to helpfully arrange my belongings out on the front door. Thankfully Denny’s one of the attendees on this month’s SQLCruise Alaska, and I look forward to talking with him about the event there. As I wrote in my post How to Get Paid to Take a Cruise, anybody can start their own community and training events. What’s stopping you from attending – or hosting – one of these fun events?
You can learn more about SQL Excursions here.