CFinNC's first event was a success. Mainly because the attendees were over all satisfied from my point of view and the organizers decided to do it again next year.
I took myself down to NC to watch Jim Priest and Dan Wilson in action. Their UG was extremely active and willing to help. What makes a great event isn't the amount of money spent or the number of attendees. It is the dedication of the people involved and it becomes this sense of community that everyone wants to be involved with. They had wonderful speakers and great keynote speakers. I had so many favorite moments from helping the guys set up the night before, to watching Joe Rinehart's keynote on day two. The late night bar was no different than every event I attend. The conversations flowed and the friendships were building. That's what an event truly comes down to. There was also some great content I heard about so that is just truly amazing that this event was put together with the minimum funds and in such a short amount of time.
The guys said they got ideas from larger events like CFUnited and from their UG. And that's what it is all about. Learn from other people's trials and jump at the chance to use great ideas. This is about building a community, not about who's event is better. I encourage UGs to put together a small event like this if they find they have the support from their UG members and find a location that is accessible to a large audience. NC was a great location within driving distance to DC. Great timing and great facility. Schools are a highly recommended venue choice as well. I even hitched a ride with friends to and from, what a bonus!
Also keep in mind the experience. The flow of events. The guys did a great job spacing out sessions and giving time to network. They got sponsors and prizes to add some excitement. They got some great speakers to help promote and do spotlight interviews. Events are supposed to make an impact on a community before, during, and after. There isn't one formula, each event has to be different but if I had to see three things you absolutely need it is 1) great speakers, 2) dedicated team, and 3) well thought out budget.
I highly recommend going next year. If you are interested in doing an event, I offered my advise to Jim and Dan which I'd do for anyone (to an extent!). But just make sure you first take a look around and remember what is it you like about events. They are truly inspirational and always does well to boost moral.
Make the leap and take a trip or take a leap and decide to do an event in your city!