WordCamp Northeast Ohio a Smashing Success

This past weekend I attended WordCamp North East Ohio held in downtown Kent, OH, organized by Rich Robinkoff and Angela Bergmann. The Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center served as the venue and main hotel for the event. The convenience of having the hotel and venue be in the same building can not be overstated.

WordCamp NEO Day One

The event started off with a great keynote by Eric Meyer on adding more humanity to the web. The biggest thing I took away from his session is that developers should ask themselves, what would a human do? This question helps identify edge cases to create experiences that cater to more people.

Next I learned about WordPress page builders from Adam Silver where he showed attendees how easy it is to create a basic site without knowing how to code. Although he had to quickly go through his material since the session started late, I think it gave people a good indication of what’s possible with page builders.

Lunch was not provided on the first day which makes sense considering the number of food options available within walking distance of the venue. This gave attendees an opportunity to walk around the city and support local businesses. Lunch was an hour and thirty minutes long allowing speakers and attendees to take their time.

Later in the afternoon, I attended Jeff Matson’s session where I learned how the WordPress community has changed his life. It was a great presentation and I noticed a lot of people in the room nodding their heads up and down when he described how the community has helped him out at various times in his life.

The afterparty or social gathering was held at Kent Lanes – 11th Frame bowling alley. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks as well as appetizers were available. The venue was setup with two rooms: One for eating and socializing with music at a reasonable level and the other was the bowling alley.

Due to the low number of customers that night, we pretty much had the building to ourselves. I had a great time and it’s one of the most enjoyable afterparties I’ve attended in recent memory.

WordCamp NEO Day Two

Day two started off with a great keynote by Chris Lema where he shared insights from 21 years in software, and how the future of WordPress relies on something that only users can provide. I spent most of the day in the hallway track meeting and talking to people I haven’t seen in years like Leland Fiegel of Themetry.

Lunch was catered on the second day which consisted of an all-you-can-eat taco bar. The bar included chicken, rice, a number of vegetables, and black beans for vegans. Lunch was filling and was received well by the attendees I spoke with.

WordCamp NEO Organizers Had Reinforcements

While a number of volunteer organizers helped to make WordCamp NEO a success, a lot of credit goes to the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center staff. I watched them work tirelessly throughout the weekend making sure beverages were stocked, the ice bucket was full, and the coffee machines were hot.

The staff did a wonderful job refilling toppings for the taco bar during lunch and overall, enhanced the experience for attendees. There was also an employee or two always within arm’s reach to provide A/V technical support which limited delays between sessions.

WordCamp NEO Was a Great Time

There are a few small things the team can improve upon for next year’s event such as placing a schedule outside each room that speakers are assigned too. Other than that, the lead organizers, volunteers, and the venue’s staff are to be commended for putting on a great conference with little or no hiccups.

WordCamp Northeast Ohio is one of the best WordPress events I’ve attended so far this year. As for next year, organizers are taking a short break and will begin the preliminary planning stages in a few months.

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11 Comments


  1. There is an epic photo from the bowling that didn’t get taken but would have been excellent for this post…

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  2. I remember a while ago WordCamps had to be WordCamp (city). it was a big fuzz…when did they relax that?

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  3. Thanks for the stellar review Jeff! We have already started our notes for changes to make next year and the schedule for each room is among those items, as well as having the room runner announce the next session in that room after speakers are done! We’d love any other feedback anyone has on improvements for next year.

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  4. Jeff, it was a wonderful event! Keynotes were perfect, great blend of sessions with new and veteran speakers, and yes, the hallway track was one of the best I’ve attended!

    I noticed the lack of schedule outside the door, but I always ended up taking a few steps to registration to pick up a schedule who was speaking in what room.

    So glad we were able to catch up, Jeff! I’m honored you included one of my tweets in your post.

    One of the other best things I loved: crossing the street to take a walk through the beautiful Kent State University campus.

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  5. We at the KSU Hotel would like to say thank you to all who attended the 2016 WordCamp NEO! We really enjoyed having your group at the hotel and hope you enjoyed our hotel in the heart of our thriving & eclectic community. It was a pleasure working with Angela & Rich to plan a successful event. We look forward to future ventures together!
    Sage – Sales & Catering Manager

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    1. Your venue, employees and tacos are awesome. Thanks for helping make WordCamp NEO a great event!

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  6. IMHO, I found WordCamp NE Ohio to be one of the best organized and executed WC’s I have attended. They sent a lot of informative emails leading up to the WC which helped folks like me coming from out of the area to prepare and find our way.

    Think of this… they had speakers like Chris Lema and Adam Silver traveling from California – and they didn’t get paid for this. Eric Meyer’s opening session was a refreshing way to begin. And speaking of Chris Lema, have you ever seen a more rousing and fun speaker to begin the day with?

    I had fun meeting some new folks and learning lots of new things. I think the NE Ohio group was a great WC but it was especially remarkable in that it was their first event. It was also noted that there were WC organizers from Ann Arbor, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Dayton attending – a really strong show of support for the newbie WordCamp.

    The venue was a big part of why this WC went off so well. The staff would flip the rooms from 1 large session room to 3 meetings rooms and made sure the tables were constantly refreshed. They did a fabulous job – and the Taco Bar on Sunday was really great.

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  7. Wow, the comments are almost better than Jeff’s post…that doesn’t happen here too often.
    Thank you for all the great feedback everyone. Angie and I had a ton of fun making this event happen, and have to give a shout out to all the other organizers and volunteers that worked all weekend to make the event so amazing.

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