Finding Our Ancestors, and Sharing Their Stories

Family Roots Expo Recap

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Family Roots Expo Recap

After a successful weekend at the first annual Family Roots Expo in St. George, Utah, I wanted to recap the events there. My husband and I went to promote our app Little Family Tree, a genealogy app for children.

Our Little Family Tree booth at the Family Roots Expo

Being the first year for the conference, we thought everything came together well. The schedule was full of great keynote speakers, and a good selection of classes with knowledgeable speakers. The classes were all at a beginning and intermediate genealogy level. Perhaps as the conference builds up, they will offer more advanced methodology topics.

The vendor hall boasted several dozen booths, both genealogy products and general interest products. For example, we were in a section of the hall with a hotel, a planned community developer and a speech-to-text-displaying phone. It was a little slow in the vendor hall overall for the number of attendees at the conference this first year. Perhaps the vendor hall traffic will improve as the conference builds up over the next few years as well.

Next year the Family Roots Expo will be held September 15-16, 2017. Cherry Creek Media, who pulls together this event, has already reserved the entire Dixie Convention Center for next year, and the event will be twice as big. We are looking forward to going back and watching this event grow into a wonderful regional event there in St. George.

Even though the vendor hall traffic was rather slower than we were expecting, we still found a lot of value in being at the conference. Those who we did talk to were very enthusiastic about using and sharing Little Family Tree with the children in their families. We also had several individuals who wanted to spread the word in their area. We had the opportunity to be interviewed by DJ Robynne of STAR98 FM, one of the radio stations owned and operated by Cherry Creek Media. That was a new experience for both of us, but Robynne is very experienced and led us through the process and made us feel very comfortable during our interview. Listen to our interview here:

Another great value to John and I was networking with genealogy associates that were also at the conference. Each of these folks we spoke with have great products and ideas to share in the genealogy world, and we appreciate associating with them. I will share some of those who we were so pleased to meet because I really admire these individuals and want to give a shout-out to their products and work.

Elizabeth O’Neal taught several classes at the conference, as well as manning the Evidentia booth. We have connected several times through social media, and Elizabeth’s stupendously fun Genealogy Blog Parties at Little Bytes of Life. It was really nice to turn a “virtual” friend into a real-life friend. We even took a break from our booths for a silly photo booth shoot.

Elizabeth and Melissa get Spooked!

Jana Greenhalgh, the mom of The Genealogy Kids, also taught several classes at the Family Roots Expo. We share a passion for introducing children to their family history at an early age, and we enjoyed comparing our quite parallel lives. We also talked a bit about working towards becoming an Accredited Genealogist, as Jana has already taken the first steps, and I am trying to decide if this is something I can add to my current load, or if I need to wait a bit longer before I commit. Their website is currently in transition from a blog to a full-blown website and I can’t wait to see more resources from The Genealogy Kids (and their mom!)

Jana and I met for lunch with Hilarie Robison, of Legacy Tale. Hilarie and her husband, Ben, offer several services through their company: interviewing and creating a personal history for a cherished member of your family, an online course that guides you through creating your own personal history, etc. I think their company offers valuable services and I admire that they have made a go at a full-time family company. John and I hope to someday be able to do the same (and we are working very hard to get there!)

Melissa, Jana, and Hilarie

Ken Hardman, of Ancestor Clips, and I connected online shortly after RootsTech 2016, as both of us were similarly inspired by the idea presented by Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch, of sharing short stories about your ancestors with your family members. Ken started sharing short written stories, and I started creating short video stories. Both are so vitally important to keeping our family memories alive. It was good to meet him and his wife in person in St. George.

My husband had previously met with David Taylor, of The Family Nexus, before the Family Roots Expo. It was good to meet David and his wife in person. David’s app is all about mapping your family history in a very interactive way. The scheduled release is set for December and I personally can’t wait to try the app out!

Glenn Rawson, of The History of the Saints, etc, emceed and gave a keynote address at the Family Roots Expo. I missed his keynote as I set up our booth for the day, but wanted to go tell him how much my children and I admire his work. (We have used a lot of the History of the Saints videos as part of our history studies for Utah history and our Church and family history.) He ended up telling me a little about his keynote and his overall focus on the STORY of people’s lives. That is the part that helps us connect to and remember those who have gone before us. I could not agree more.

John and I have watched the Kindex software since we entered both our products in this past year’s Innovator Showdown at RootsTech 2016. Kindex is so important for families that have collections of letters, journals, etc. that need to be digitized, transcribed and searchable. Using Kindex will make all those documents more useful and available to the family. I personally have a large collection of these types of items and am looking forward to using Kindex and the upcoming features and functions they plan to add. I have enjoyed so many of the photos that Cathy has shared on the Kindex Instagram account, and it was really great to meet her again in person at the Family Roots Expo.

Cathy and Melissa at the Kindex booth

One last thing I want to share about our time at the Family Roots Expo is the fabulous book I read during some of our downtime at the booth. The book is Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA by Richard Hill. I accidentally bought this book when I was trying to read more about it on Amazon. An errant click on the “one click” button, and it was mine! So, I thought I might as well take the time to read it, and it was one of the best books I have read! Mr. Hill weaves a mesmerizing tale about his multi-decade long search for his birth parents. Even though this was not directly a tale of a genealogist’s search, I learned many search techniques that will translate to my genealogy research. I was impressed by the careful records Mr. Hill kept of his search; I can certainly improve in this area. I was also reminded that the conclusion you think you have come to can always be rewritten when new evidence comes to light.

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