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The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke
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EGGtoberfest XVII - Meet & Greet

First Image
My second blog entry regrading Eggtoberfest XVII will describe the Meet and Greet Event which occurs the night before the main event. It is an optional event with it’s own separate ticket. In the full disclosure department, this entry will be an overview because I ended up spending an enjoyable evening sitting with one other couple. As a result I did zero mingling and meeting and greeting. Last year was the first year the Meet and Greet was being held at a new venue and there was some room for improvement. This year they seemed to have fixed last year’s issues and no new issues came up.

LOCATION:
This year, just as last year, the Meet and Greet event was held at the Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Resort. The location was on a deck extending the length of the rear of the Conference Center wing of the facility. There was plenty of parking for the event, no doubt due to this being a hotel and conference center. The building is on a steeply sloping site and one end of the deck is at grade and the other end is up in the air and the view is impressive because it appears you are suspended in a treehouse up in the trees. You park in front and enter through a specific, well marked Conference Center entrance. You walk through a large foyer which brings you to a fairly long escalator which brings you to another large foyer which opens onto the rear deck. You go through the registration process at the lower level foyer before heading out to the deck.

“Second


SETUP:

The seating is a mixture of normal height round tables with 4-6 folding chairs around them and smaller high top round tables that could accommodate 4 people standing. The seating ran the entire length of the deck. There were several long tables containing the food distributed on the deck. The food was quite good for this type of event. Actually this is rather important for a Meet and Greet for a food-related event. People going to an event cerebrating good food are going to notice inferior food. There was a mixture of good food and healthy food. Some would possibly call that “bad” food and good (healthy) food. There were also smaller tables spread around the deck containing various dessert items. Lastly there were several drink tables where you could get water, coffee, soda and beer and wine. The food and drinks were included in the price of your ticket. Like last year, there was a small group playing music but they were located far away from where I sat, so not much I can say on that.

CH-CH-CH-CHANGES:
There were several things last year that definitely needed improvements:
  • Location: Last year there was some confusion about the location. Staff members weren’t all aware of the event and where you entered into the event from the hotel facility. I was directed to enter it from the opposite end from where I was actually supposed to. This year the staff seemed well informed and there seemed to be more directional signage.
  • Registration Lines Reduced: Last year there were long lines for getting your registration wristband which gets you into both this event and Eggtoberfest on Saturday. Last year you entered through the Conference Center entrance, went down the escalator and there were two registration tables in rear of the Foyer at the bottom of the escalator. This year instead of handling the registration at two tables in the lower Foyer, you walked to the right and entered a side entrance to a large room off the Foyer where they had many more registration tables and more staff. The registration lines were broken down to a much finer degree than last year. The lines were alphabetically by last name: A-C, D-F etc. This seemed to take care of the excessively long lines issue. When you got your badge, you left via a rear entrance to a corridor which led you to the deck.
  • Overcrowding: Last year the event looked like it was 100-150 people bigger than the deck could comfortable handle. At times it looked like scenes from the over-populated world of the movie Soylent Green. About 30 minutes after the event started, they opened up a large indoor function room with additional seating. This seemed to relieve the overcrowding somewhat. not totally, but somewhat. This year it just seemed like there were less people to begin with. I didn’t see any indoor rooms in use this year, but I didn’t make an exhaustive search either. There were times the deck was a bit crowded, but not to the extent of last year. The food lines were shorter too. I am guessing that they reduced the numbers of tickets for the Meet and Greet by 100 or so. Of course it is always possible less people signed up this year.
  • “Hidden Powers” of the Wristband: At Eggtoberfest last year the folks in charge of routing traffic at the entrance gate did not know that folks with the wristbands from the Meet and Greet could skip the registration tent. This is what was causing the long lines. Being pre-registered we were supposed to go straight to the tent where the swag bags were being given out. The problem was no one knew about this until 15 or 20 minutes in. Suddenly they started letting pre-registered people go straight to the Swag-Bag tent. Also the folks giving out the bands at last year’s Meet and Greet only told you to keep the wrist band because you would need it the next day for Eggtoberfest. This year they also made a point of telling you that you did not have to wait in the registration line at all. Just go straight to the Swag Bag tent. When I arrived, 15 minutes before the event was starting, there were well over 1,000 people in the registration line. None of them had wristbands, they all had to go through the check-in process. It saved a good 30 - 45 minutes or so by being able to go straight in a grab our swag bag and get going.

MY EXPERIENCE:
The general information part of this blog is over, the rest will be my personal experience. So feel free to stop here and jump down to the conclusion at the end of this entry or move on. When I arrived at 6:00 they had just opened up the deck. The staff was still setting up the food tables. I headed towards the more scenic far end of the deck which is high above the grade below. This put me far away from the stage, where you can hear what others are saying. There were not any open low tables left so I grabbed an open high top. When the food lines opened I got into the food line right away before it got too long. There was a couple at the low table nearest us and the lady also got into the food line. I struck up a conversation with the lady while were in the food line. I got back to my table and the man at the next table called over and asked me if I wanted to join them at their table which had seats. I said sure and moved over to the low table with seats.

The couple were Dave and Nadine who were from Georgia. When Dave asked me where I was from, I said a small town he never would have heard of in Massachusetts. He said try me, and in the “small world department” It turns out he had worked in two towns next to me, one to the west and the town just south of me. He had moved down to Georgia where he met and married Nadine. We all hit it off immediately. Dave and I were serious Eggheads, Nadine was into it too, but it sounded like Dave used the Egg more than she. Bottom line: We all hit it off so well that I spent the entire evening sitting and talking with Dave and Nadine.

From where I sat I noticed that at no time did the event ever get as crowded as it had last year, the food lines never approached last years levels. The only thing that ever approached last years levels were the drink lines. I found the event to be “more comfortable” with less folks milling around. This year the organizers pretty much got it all right, at least in my book.

CONCLUSION:
For my money this is definitely a worthwhile and enjoyable event. I need to fly down the day before anyway and this is a nice way to wrap up the travel day. The food is decent and this is not always true of this type of event. It is great being in a room, or in this case a deck, full of people who are Eggheads or the S.O.s of Eggheads. The Meet & Great is priced reasonably. The BGE company is not getting rich with this event. One of the best features, which actually comes the next day, is being able to avoid waiting in the long registration lines at Eggtoberfest Saturday morning.

SOME RELATED LINKS
Here are some links to other blog entries in this series and several blog entries from my first visit to EGGtoberfest in 2013.

EGGtoberfest XVI - 2013
   EGGTOBERFEST XVI - PART 1 2013 Blog Entry about my first visit to the big Kahuna of Eggfests: EGGtoberfest.
   EGGTOBERFEST XVI - PART 2 2013 Blog Entry about my first visit to the big Kahuna of Eggfests: EGGtoberfest.

EGGtoberfest XVII - 2014
   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - MOTHERSHIP 2014 Blog Entry about my first visit to the Big Green Egg Company Store at their headquarters in Tucker, GA
   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - MINI-MAX DEBUT 2014 Blog Entry about the Mini-Max which had it’s coming out party at EGGtoberfest XVII
   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - BGE COMPANY STORE TENT 2014 Blog Entry about the Mini-Max which had it’s coming out party at EGGtoberfest XVII
   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - COOK’S AREA 2014 Blog Entry with some Big Picture information about the setup and what went on in the Cook’s Area at EGGtoberfest XVII
   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - TIPS & LESSONS LEARNED 2014 Blog Entry with some Big Picture information about the setup and what went on in the Cook’s Area at EGGtoberfest XVII
   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - SWAG BAG 2014 Blog Entry with some pictures and descriptions of what was in the EGGtoberfest XVII Swag Bag

   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - OFFICIAL VIDEO Web page containing the 2014 EGGtoberfest XVII video produced by the BGE Company

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