Final Notes from the Convention Chair
Mary Schwartzbauer, Hastings, Minnesota

   On behalf of my co-chair, Connie Linder, and myself, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the American Hosta Society for the privilege and
honor of hosting the 2010 annual American Hosta Society National Convention.
   So many times these days, it seems when someone asks us to do something, we are so busy or preoccupied we forget to take the time to consider that they may not be asking just for themselves, but because they appreciate and see in us something of value and something they admire and respect.
   That is exactly how I took the request from AHS to host this past summer's convention. And so it was with much pride that I took the request back to
the Minnesota Hosta Society membership.
   Having many new members since we hosted the convention in 2000, much explanation was needed.  But those members who took part in 2000 were excited and willing to 'go it again' and quickly got the newer members on board as well!

   Over the few years of planning, excitement and interest continued to grow as much talk revolved around the upcoming event.  Volunteers were recruited and more and more members expressed interest in attending their first convention -  so much interest, in fact, that we had 163 Minnesota Hosta
Society members attend!  I'm sure that must be some kind of record! All told we had 499 guests to our party- thanks for coming!
   To me personally, that is the great thing about the convention- all the people you meet and become friends with over the years. Yes, of course, we start attending because we want to see great gardens, learn some more about hostas, BUY PLANTS!, and all the other things the conventions offer; but it
is the friendships that are most treasured.

   I attended my first national convention in 1993 and haven't missed one since. It is something I look forward to all year long. Over those many years I have developed friendships with people from literally all over the world from Belgium, England, Canada, New Zealand, and Japan not to mention those from Georgia, the Carolinas, Oregon, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Washington state and D.C.; well, the list goes on and on. I look forward to seeing these folks each year and am saddened and a bit worried if they don't attend for some reason.
   However, hosting the convention puts you in a totally different place. You are the host; you get to decide what everyone is going to do and when.  You get to show off the special treasures your city and state have to offer, and be creative in your planning. You get to put into play things you would have liked other conventions to try. The ball is in your court, and you are free to run with it. How exciting and fun!
   We had a lot of fun being able to showcase some of our local speakers, adjust the more typical schedule to allow for expanded classes and more time to relax during the afternoon. To be able to tour the grounds of Mayowood, of the Mayo Clinic family fame, (thanks to our friends from the Shades of Green Hosta Society- who helped us in many ways), was a true treat.
   Speaking of our Shades of Green Hosta Society friends, that is another one of the perks of hosting a convention. Not only did the Minnesota Hosta Society members get to know each other better and develop new friendships, we also got to know many of their members better too.
   How generous Shades of Green was to offer their support, time, and effort. Thank you again.
   Now I know many of you are thinking, 'But we're not a big enough group.', 'We don't have enough gardens.', 'We don't have enough people to pull it off.' YOU DO. Plain and simple.  The members of Shades of Green wanted to help in part because they wanted to see the planning in action; they want to be able to do this themselves in the future and, in fact, are hosting the Midwest Regional Convention in 2012. To ask another group to help you, even with just one part of the convention, helps you out, but also helps develop
a relationship with that group that you will cherish in the future.  It also helps them develop the confidence to do the same in years ahead, if they haven't done it before.  It is a win-win situation, and remember too, that the AHS board is always available to guide you and help you where needed.
Convention Co-Chair Connie Linder

   Every convention seems to have a hiccup or two, or have something a bit unusual or unexpected happen. We didn't get one of our buses on Saturday, but people pitched in and drove the route, some with new friends they made while doing just that! Not typical, but you wouldn't have made that friendship if you hadn't jumped in that car full of strangers! (Don't do that on a regular basis- jump into a stranger's car I mean). That situation was a bit stressful, but one thing that humored me was the cow.
   The annual Holstein convention was sharing the hotel with us- seriously, a convention for cows? No one can look at hosta people strangely again. Anyway, in the parking lot they had a HUGE Holstein - on a trailer; this beast was about 20 feet long and 15 feet tall. Now the weather during the convention was great, but peculiarly, in the evenings, we had several serious storms, some straight-line winds and tornadoes in the area. 
   While I was wondering what the hotels procedure for evacuation was, those attendees not familiar with the seriousness of these two types of storms were glued to the very large windows at the hotel, and some were hoping to see a tornado. Trust me, you do NOT want to see a tornado! Anyway, we were as close to the Wizard of OZ as could be. Although the Holstein didn't quite fly through the air past those large windows like in the movie, it did manage to topple over and break an ear providing much entertainment! It lay on its side, but was resurrected the next day after much effort, only to get blown over again the next night when another storm came by! I hope the Holstein Society had insurance as it was rented!
   Mostly, I would like to thank all of the attendees. Without you, there would be no convention. Thank you for your support of AHS by attending and by buying plants at vending and at the auction. Your participation, willingness to go with the flow, cheerfulness, good humor, and fun attitudes made hosting this convention a true pleasure.  We hope you had as much fun attending as we did hosting.
   I won't lie. Hosting a convention is a lot of work, but the rewards outweigh the risks so to speak.  You come away richer than when you started. The thought that next year you can just be an attendee is one of the sweetest thoughts on earth!
   Seriously, if your group hasn't hosted a convention in the past, or it's been quite a few years, I would hope you would give it some definite thought. How bad can it be? Many, many groups have hosted more than one convention. If it was a bad thing, no one would do it again! Please consider it. I'd like to come visit you. We had a great time, and it was truly our privilege and honor to be your hosts.  Thank you for attending our convention, we hope to see all of you next year in New England!

Sincerely,

Mary Schwartzbauer