Carolina FreedomNet 2006 – what a great experience!

I had the most wonderful time this weekend in Greensboro at the John Locke Foundation-sponsored Carolina FreedomNet 2006 blogger conference. It was my first blogger conference ever, and I had such an enjoyable time that any conferences I go to after this one will be tough to measure up to this one.

One of the coolest things about this weekend was having so many classy Southern conservative gents and sassy Southern conservative gals in one place :) I don’t know many conservatives in Charlotte (in fact, I’m not sure there are that many around – LOL) but to my surprise, I found out this weekend that Bruce from the Gay Patriot blog, who was in attendance at the conference, was from Charlotte. Awesome! He liveblogged the two conference panels here and here. It was such a pleasure to meet him – he had some great questions and comments for the panelists. During the first panel’s discussion (the one I was on) we found out that Bruce was in the front row – I had no idea that was him! So when our panel was over, I went over and gave him a big hug and we chatted for a few minutes. He is a class act all the way.

Speaking of classy Southern gents, I also got to spend some time with Bob Owens from the Confederate Yankee blog, who has a fantastic, wicked sense of humor which comes across often in his excellent blogging, Josh Manchester from The Adventures of Chester blog, who is an all around cool guy and Duke Blue Devils fan (yeah!) pursuing a writing career (he currently writes for TCS Daily), and Scott Elliott from Election Projection, who always had a smile on his face and provided words of encouragement for nervous panelists like myself, and is also one of the hardest working bloggers out there right now – make sure to bookmark his blog, because in the 2004 election, he called 48 states correctly so Scott knows his stuff!

As far as those sassy Southern conservative gals go, it was a pleasure to meet Lorie Byrd and MK Ham, both of whom have recaps of this weekend’s activities here and here. Both Lorie and MK are sharp, funny, witty, and extremely talented writers at their respective blogs and I’m honored to be able to call them both friends. Such beautiful ladies, on the inside and out. As is Kathy from Hang Right Politics, who I met and talked with after yesterday’s luncheon. Kathy, I found out, doesn’t live that far from where I work, so we’ll be getting together for lunch one day soon! I’m looking forward to it.

As you guys know if you’ve read my reminders about the date of the conference, I was very nervous at the thought of being on the panel, worried about what I was going to say and how I was going to come across, but I got over my intial fears quickly, partly due to the fact that I had gotten to know two of the three other panelists the night before (Lorie and Bob – I did get a chance to talk to Sam Heib [who also blogs for the JLF here] briefly after the luncheon) which made me more comfortable sitting up there in front of everyone, but also because Jon Ham (the JLF’s VP of Communications and MK’s dad) helped the process go smoothly with the questions he asked of the panel. You can see video snips of the panels here (the video is a bit dark, so my bad hair day is not as noticeable, thank goodness ;) ).

I also got to meet and talk with MK’s mom – sweet and energetic lady! The Hams are a wonderful and obviously close family and it was so good to get to meet them this weekend.

Our keynote speaker for the conference was Scott Johnson from Powerline, who spoke about Powerline’s huge role in the busting open of the fake memo CBS used to try and discredit President Bush’s National Guard service back in September 2004. His in depth speech on the subject was highly informative, especially the part about how CBS’ Mary Mapes became “convinced” that Bill Burkett, who gave CBS the memos, was ‘telling the truth.’ It was incredible how easily duped (more to the point, willingly duped) Mapes was regarding the supposed ‘authenticity’ of that memo.

Scott blogged yesterday morning about two self-described “blog groupies” who attended this weekend’s conference:

Last night I met sisters Abby Misemer and Missy Nurrenbrock of New Port Richey, Florida. They are huge Power Line fans who read about the conference here when I first noted it August and flew up to attend. They are the most attentive, appreciative and observant readers I have ever met. Having read the site faithfully for several years, they know me about as well as my family.

I got to meet them as well – wonderful, fun, thoughtful ladies, who we all appreciate travelling so far to attend this weekend’s event!

In a nutshell, it was, as my blog title states, a great experience. The bloggers I met this weekend are all within a driving distance of 3 hours or less, so we will all be getting together again in an informal setting to hang out, shoot the breeze, and “talk shop.” Thanks once again to John Hood and his fine staff at the John Locke Foundation for making it all happen.

I stayed in Greensboro after the conference was over in order to meet a very special person, who lives near G’boro: ST reader NC Cop. Meeting him deserves its own post, which I will write shortly.

Update: I’m remiss in mentioning that I also met Burwell Stark, Communications Director for the JWP Civitas Institute, who is also an occassional commenter here. Was good to finally meet ya, Burwell :)

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