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Top Ten Reasons to Be Thankful for #RootsTech

Photo: The Salt Palace Convention Center with a rootstech logo wrapped around part of the building
Last week, I attended RootsTech again. Each year I go, I get more and more out of the world's largest genealogy conference. Ten years ago, three thousand people showed up for the first RootsTech. I don't know the official count this year, but it was closer to ten times that. Not only has RootsTech expanded in participants, it has grown in other ways. Last September, RootsTech met in London, England, for the first time, and it was recently announced that there will be another conference across the pond this November. If you live in the UK, or need an excuse to visit, mark your calendars for November 5-7! 

If a trip to England isn't in the cards this year, maybe a trip to Salt Lake City, Utah, next February would be more likely. Next year's RootsTech will be held February 3-6, 2021. 

If you haven't been to RootsTech before, you might be wondering what all the hype is about, so for this week's Ten Things of Thankful post, I thought I'd bring you a Top Ten list: Top 10 Reasons to be Thankful for RootsTech!

10. Swag. From the cool, Relative-Race-sponsored backpack given to all registrants, to candy on vendors' tables, or drawings for computers and other prizes, it would be impossible to leave RootsTech empty-handed.

9. FamilySearch app, specifically the Relatives at RootsTech feature. Thanks to that app, I learned that I had more than 6,000 cousins at RootsTech with me!

8. Energetic vibe. Believe it or not, there was palpable energy at this genealogy conference, and at no time was this more evident than Wednesday night, when tens of thousands of next-generation family historians descended upon the conference center. 

Photo: A crowd of people swarm the Salt Lake Convention Center for RootsTech

7. New products. From MyHeritage's  introduction of their colorizing technology for old black and white photos, to Keepsake DNA, a company that uses forensic technology to lift DNA off of old items, the Expo Hall was filled with the latest tech and genealogy items.

6. Volunteers and Staff. Everywhere you looked, you could find volunteers wearing "Ask Me Anything" T-shirts. Those volunteers did everything from giving directions to handing out snacks to bringing wheelchairs to tired seniors. And they did it all with a smile!

A young woman wearing a blue "Ask me anything" t-shirt walks with another woman. (Photo courtesy of RootsTech)
Pulling off a huge event is no easy task, but the RootsTech folks made it seem like it was no problem. Even though the Salt Palace was undergoing a major construction project and some temporary restrooms had to be brought in, that situation just inspired some "live like your ancestors" jokes. There even was a "What kind of toilet are you?" online quiz. (Middle Ages Garderobes and Pits, if you must know--though as a thankful-for-indoor-plumbing kind of gal, I question the validity of the results.)

Photo: A sign pointing the way to the restrooms. Underneath the directional arrow is the text,"Curious about the evolution of the toilet? Ever wonder which toilet you would be in another life? We thought so. Find out with this quiz. Open your camera app and scan the QR code to take the quiz."

5. Genealogical helpers. Coaches Corner by Trace offered free one-on-one consultations with genealogists. Speakers had time for Q &A at the end of classes, or offered to stay afterwards for discussion. Even attendees provided suggestions to others on how to solve family history mysteries. 

4. Classes. From very beginner classes that explained what a family tree was, to advanced DNA panel discussions, RootsTech had classes for everyone. The wealth of knowledge was overwhelming!

3. Keynote speakers. This year, not only did we hear from Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch, we also were privileged to hear addresses from Leigh Anne Tuohy (the mother who Sandra Bullock portrayed in The Blind Side), David Hume Kennerly (Pulitzer-prize winning photographer), and Emmitt Smith (NFL Hall-of-Famer). On Friday night, we also were entertained by comedian Ryan Hamilton. These presentations were definitely a highlight of the week!
Leigh Anne Tuohy, photo courtesy of RootsTech

David Hume Kennerly, photo courtesy of RootsTech
Emmitt Smith, photo courtesy of RootsTech

Theme. This year's theme was The Story of You. Throughout the week, we were reminded to take time to share our own stories. Steve Rockwell stated, "We don't just study family history; we live family history." We saw examples of individuals sharing their stories through comedy, photography, painting, dance, videos, and the written word. 

Photo: RootsTech attendees write in journals on the "What's YOUR story?" wall. (Photo courtesy of RootsTech.)

And the number one reason to be thankful for RootsTech:

1. Surrounding yourself with the feeling of family. RootsTech combined the history of the past with the technology of the future, all while encouraging living in the present. That feeling of connection through generations was seen in the smiles of the attendees. 

Truth be told, there are plenty more reasons to be thankful for RootsTech.  I'm so thankful I could attend this 10th anniversary year of RootsTech. As an ambassador, RootsTech gave me a pass to attend, and also sponsored a giveaway so one of my readers could also attend. I was able to meet the giveaway winner (also named Kristi, coincidentally) and we discovered we are 9th cousins. We took a quick photo, which I would share with you, except I am having technical difficulties with some of my photos. I'm thankful that RootsTech shared some of their professional photos with me to use in this blog post. 

If you missed RootsTech this year, don't worry; you can access free video archives of select presentations on the RootsTech site

Have you been to RootsTech? What are some of your reasons to be thankful? 

Linking up to the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop this week with me:
The Prolific Pulse
MessyMimi's Meanderings
Carin's Gratitude
Backsies is What There is Not
The Wakefield Doctrine
A Season and a Time

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
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  1. Studying family has always been something i wanted to do, but have no time to devote to it. Someday.

    1. I'm always willing to help you. It's easier than ever to research, with so many records available online.

  2. Great recap of a wonderful week with you!


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