Sunday, April 22, 2012

Midwest Homeschool Convention - Introduction

This weekend I attended for the first time the Midwest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio. Part of the Great Homeschool Conventions family, this is the largest convention I've ever been to. I've attended our state homeschool convention (INCH) several times as well as some smaller regional conventions over the years.

I was unhappy with the direction the INCH convention seemed to be going - more and more conservative and less and less about actual educational issues each time that I went. I wanted to learn about how to be a better educator not about using raw honey or about how to have godly daughters. Not that those things are BAD or uninteresting to me; the reasons I attend a homeschool conference are different though. This conference is also longer than any I've ever attended - starting on Thursday afternoon and running through Saturday afternoon.

So, some friends and I decided to test out the waters at the Cincinnati convention which includes a larger range of subjects as well as some of the top names in home education circles. Exciting, right?

So, reservations were made and maps were routed and we were OFF! The drive was easy - straight down I-75 for about 5 hours or maybe 6.

The registration process was easy, since we had all pre-registered at the low price of $25. Alphabetized sign-in lines were short and we had our wristbands in just minutes. The vendor hall was not open yet, so we just hung out for a while getting our bearings.

The convention is in downtown Cincinnati at the Duke Energy Center, a three-story convention hall with lots of room for vendors and workshops. Escalators and elevators were available to get from level to level, as well as numerous entrances to the building from outside, including skywalks from nearby hotels and parking garages. Tables were set up in the large common areas for attendees to sit and rest or eat.  A coffee shop serving Starbucks coffee is just inside one of the entrances; we did not use it but there were always long lines. High-priced food was available inside the vendor hall as well - $8 smoothies, $6 burgers, $9 salads, the ubiquitous convention almonds, etc. I actually paid $3.75 for a bottle of Diet Mountain Dew when I needed some emergency caffeine. No rules were present about not bringing in outside food (as was the law at INCH), so people could either buy food there or bring in their own - a nice moneysaver. We mostly did that - stocked up with protein bars, nuts, cheese sticks, fruit and bottles of water.

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency, which was just kitty corner from the convention center and connected by an UNCOVERED skywalk. (I know; what's the point, right?) Our 19th floor room was small but comfortable. We had free wi-fi for signing up for the Hyatt Gold Passport (free). We did not use the valet parking at $24 per night, but opted instead of a parking garage 2 or 3 blocks away with $5 conference rates per day. We did not get the car out after parking it but walked or used public transportation downtown. We did not have time to use the hotel's pool or fitness facilities since we headed out to 8:30 workshops both Friday and Saturday. Other hotels very close to the convention center would be the Millenium Hotel, the Netherland, and the Westin. We got a conference rate at the Regency and other hotels offer that as well.

Fountain Square is just a couple blocks' pleasant walk, a lovely little area filled with trees and tables and chairs and surrounded by restaurants like Potbelly, Chipotle, and Mynt. Oh yeah, and the namesake fountain. We ate three of our meals there. Thursday and Friday, the temps were in the upper 70's so eating outside was desirable. On Saturday, the weather was much colder, so we ate indoors. We caught the downtown trolley there and took it across the Ohio River into Newport, Kentucky to go to a movie theater there. (See, we aren't ALL about homeschooling!). The cost was $1 per person one way - affordable, we thought, since we would have had to pay $5 to take the car out of the parking garage.

Next, I'll begin giving my conference reports.


ahusted said...

Sounds good and I'm thankful you didn't stay at the Millenium. Not a good experience for us. It wasn't in Cinncinatti though it was in St Louis.

Niffercoo said...

I'm loving ALL of your notes about the conference workshops! I feel the same way about our local conference. Not any real meat about education - ours is heavy on how to be a good, submissive wife (and how to bake bread LOL). I got free tickets to the other conference this year so I will go just to buy materials with no shipping. Maybe I can try to get to this conference if you go again?