Tuesday, August 28, 2012

AWBU, boot virgins and perceptions

"What's a blog?" asked one of the guys at the crafter's meeting at the Ozark Folk Center two weeks ago. He was just yanking my chain, because I know he reads the popular media. He might even have a television.

But I patiently explained that "Blog" was short for web log and was a form of an online magazine, often written by one person. This was important because the Arkansas Women Bloggers were having their Unplugged (AWBU) conference at the Center. As you know if you are reading this, I am an Arkansas woman blogger.

I took annual leave so that I could attend the conference. It took a bit of work to pretend to be a visitor at home, but it did offer a different perspective. Most people were happy to play along, though a few were really confused to see me in a tshirt.

The advance survey had me worried. I had never heard of Klout and was not signed up on Twitter. I use Facebook mostly to communicate with family. The survey wanted me to categorize myself as a "Mommy, Craft or Foodie" blogger. Yeah, I've been blogging since 2005, but it's just something I do for me and my family. Is there a category for that? I read through the posts on the AWB site, read the profiles and posts from the women and decided that it sounded like a useful conference. Besides, it was at home, and I could certainly learn a few things. I signed up for Twitter @jlonthefarm. I signed up for Klout.

I decided it was just a good constructive use of my time. And then the sponsors started rolling in. Suddenly I was reading the preconference posts and getting excited.

The ladies gathered in front of the Bois d'Arc Center
before the party. This is where I first heard the term
"boot virgin."
Ziploc sent cases of containers for the foodie bloggers to test and talk about. Count me in, I love Ziploc, really, especially the new Versaglass line. Yarnell's sent ice cream, Farm Bureau, Healthy Families and Petit Jean Meats sent food and treats. Mrs. Meyers gave everybody cleaning supplies and Tammy Sue sent soap.  I'm sure there's more in the swag bag that I forgot, but the crowning glory was BOOTS.

Country Outfitter, a Fayetteville Arkansas company, offered every woman attending not only a pair of boots, but also a pair to give away to her readers. As the conference neared, the Stephanies set up a Pinterest board and everybody shared their shopping experience on the Country Outfitter web site. I found several pairs that I liked and finally settled on my old fav's, the Ariat Heritage Lacers, just like the faithful pair that I've worn for a decade.
It was like Christmas when we were all finally
let into the room where the boots were
set up along the walls boxes open.

After a two days of great workshops, we all gathered together for the boot party and photo shoot. As everybody waited outside, we talked of our blogs and other things. Several ladies said they had never worn a pair of boots! They were boot virgins. Hard to imagine...

We all sat down for a nice cookout of Petit Jean hot dogs, sausages and burgers. Like the rest of the conference, there was tons of great food. It was hard to get everyone to quiet down for the presentations during dinner as the table conversations were so enjoyable. But, everybody did settle to listen. Gina, of desperately seeking {gina} started talking about how she started her blog as "desperately seeking {Thom}" to find an old flame. She was halfway through her story of love lost and found when Thom came through the door and in front of 75 women, proposed to Gina. Thank goodness she said "Yes".

 Then we all got to go into the other room and find our boots. It was really like Christmas. As I found my boots and listened around the room, I heard Stephanie McCratic say that what everybody didn't know was that she was pretending this was her birthday party. That got me wondering how everybody else was perceiving this party - engagement party, birthday party, boots-for-the-first-time party?
Each pair was nicely arranged in the box, with a nice card
with our names on them.

I had my own "story" for this party, but you'll have to read tomorrow's post to find out what it is.

Boot virgins no more! We all went outside for a photo
shoot with Joe's tractor.


Kathy E. said...

I love seeing everyone in thier boots!

Jodi said...

Jeannette - I'm so glad you joined us for the conference. I love your blog. And I'm a boot virgin no longer. :)

Jodi (@jgbez) :)

Panamamama said...

Love it! I am also no longer a boot virgin...(Must say my Ariat's are very comfortable!)