Saturday rounded a nearly perfect week at RootsTech, the largest family history conference in the world. After the day it was easy to ask, “What’s your food DNA?” We got to hear much about both family food traditions and the uniqueness of DNA and it all provides to aid in family history research.
Our day started early when we got to meet up with world-famous baker, Buddy Valastro, for a special backstage interview. There he talked about the ins and out of judging a cake decorating contest. After all, he had just judged a huge batch of beautifully decorated cakes
as part of RootsTech. While waiting for Buddy to finish judging, we got a backstage tour of all the ins and outs of running a conference, not just for 13,000 + RootsTech conference-goers, but the live stream of 100,000 to 125,000. “This kind of set up is something found at very large events like the Republican or Democratic convention,” said Paul Nauta, head of public relations for RootsTech. The sessions are broadcast into 15 languages and is live-streamed world wide. In addition to the live stream, the broadcasts are archived for future viewing too.
You would never know it was 7:30 a.m. with all the hustling and bustling going on. Soon, Buddy appeared and we watched as he went over the video presentation to accompany his address. Soon after, he spoke with us about the family business and his criteria for judging cakes. “I’m stuffed! I’ve had 20 different tastings,” Buddy said with great enthusiasm. He was impressed with what he saw in the competition. “I think I better up my game,” he said with a laugh.
Buddy talked about his greatest passion, his family. He told some great family stories and also shared several in his address. There were some other sweet surprises we can’t wait to share with you. Watch for our full story about Buddy coming up next week.
DNA expert CeCe Moore told us about why DNA is so important. She explained that often DNA picks up where the paper trail of family history leaves off. She added that some people even start with a DNA test and then look to the paper trail to fill in the gaps. “Both things are needed and important,” she said. “Many of our behaviors can also be traced from genetics,” she added. Plus, issues of forgiveness and healing can be solved by adopted children looking to find biological parents and fill holes that have been left, sometimes for a lifetime. We will go into greater detail with CeCe’s remarks later next week as well.
Upon leaving the morning session the halls were full to the brim with the onset of Saturday’s Family Discovery Day. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints helps sponsor the event in conjunction with FamilySearch. Watch for our round up the day on
Now that RootsTech has come to a close, Rhonda and I have found ourselves feeling grateful for the opportunity to be the eyes and ears of the event, finding details about the week that you may not know or have been able to see. The communications experts at the media hub made our job almost seamless. Interviews with speakers were set up in advance of the event and those on staff made sure we knew where we needed to go and when and also checked to see we had all the comforts of home, right down to chocolate and super fast wifi. I have been enjoying the media hub while covering RootsTech for a few years, but Rhonda, it was her first experience and it’s safe to say, she loved it! Here are a few of her thoughts about the experience:
“This was my first time in the Media Hub at RootsTech, and seriously guys, it has been way more fun than anybody should get to have for a job. The media hub is a big block in the center of the exhibit hall, cordoned off for press, bloggers and VIPs. They set up nooks of couches and have times scheduled for the big speakers and celebs to stop by. With years of newspaper reporting experience, Rachel is the pro in this environment, so I’m happy being behind the camera. (I think we have made a great team.) After each interview, we huddle at tables set up with charging stations (and a blessedly fast WiFi connection.) It’s rewarding to post the best quotes and videos for the #NotAtRootsTech peeps in near real-time. We’re also amassing a year’s worth of great material that we can mine. There’s a certain energy within the hub because you never know who might drop in. For example, we got an unexpected–and fab–interview yesterday with Kenyatta D. Berry, host of the PBS series Genealogy Roadshow. Also, we want to shout out a big thank you to the RootsTech team for taking such good care of us and all the media. You are the best!”
I concur with Rhonda’s thoughts, and to be really honest, I’m already excited for next year! When marking your calendars, remember RootsTech will be at the end of February rather than the beginning. It begins on February 28 and runs through March 3.