Whether you’re jumping up and down with anticipation about returning to Austin to commemorate the 10th anniversary of your first Fling, or you’re coming to verify the tall tales and see where it all started, mark your calendar for May 3-6, 2018.
Believe all the hype – we’re planning a whiz-bang shindig bigger than Texas for all the bloggers who flock to the second Austin fling.
The colorful roots of the original Garden Bloggers Fling come up each year when we gather. Whether sharing the history with newbies or reliving great personal memories of the original event, the interest in bringing it back to Austin has grown with each passing fling.
At a time when most bloggers hid behind the anonymity of the internet, the concept of a meet up was a novel idea. Pam Penick, of Digging, suggested we invite bloggers we were following and those following us, to come to Austin for a garden adventure.
A group of Austin bloggers had already been meeting locally for a while, and it was so much fun, we thought – let’s have a party!
We started planning, hoping like in Field of Dreams, if we built it, you would come.
And come you did. While we weren’t sure anyone would attend, we proceeded to plan a one-day event.
Our itinerary was jam packed with public and private gardens, fabulous food, and breakout sessions about the social and technological aspects of blogging.
Then we crossed our fingers and started blogging about it, inviting everyone we followed.
Connecting to our blogging pals and touring gardens proved to be a wonderful experience. We had 37 attendees from Texas and 12 other states.
Successful beyond our wildest dreams, we bonded in private and public gardens while extending a big-as-Texas welcome to the group.
We opened the Fling with a buy-your-own Mexican dinner at local icon Matt’s El Rancho — with 37 separate checks! While the cacophony might have been a few decibels less than at recent Fling gatherings, we to raise the roof in our eagerness to get to know one another and talk about our gardens and our blogs.
Our transportation consisted of 5 or 6 Austin blogger’s cars, driving participants around town between gardens with a personal tour guide. All the bloggers thoroughly enjoyed this as it enabled them to really get to know their passengers.
Jenny Stocker of Rock Rose gave bloggers a tour of the Wildflower Center.
We recommended folks stay at Holiday Inn Express along the highway – no banquet rooms or swanky bar and lobby there.
We then had a lovely happy hour at Pam Penick’s house.
Carol Michel spoke about the evolving social aspects of blogging, while Kathy Purdy of Cold Climate Gardening discussed the emerging technical issues of maintaining a blog.
Bloggers shared their experiences with Blogger and Word Press, monetizing blogs and the future of blogging.
These were our first break-out sessions – a cluster of new-found friends sitting on the porch while another group gathered in the living room. And all with Mexican martinis in hand.
Our last event was a lunch with a local icon Tom Spencer as our inspirational speaker — we actually collected checks for for our Tex-Mex lunch at the door. After all, Paypal didn’t even exist yet!
We arranged our final dinner at the County Line, where they served up mouth-watering BBQ. We ate, made a few speeches, and raffled off a host of fun garden prizes.
We’d received a few donations from local nurseries for participants, and then added to them from our own stashes of extra garden books and goodies. Everyone received a small prize.
Garden author Susan Wittig Albert signed books for bloggers at the Wildflower Center and donated a few of her books as prizes.
In spite of our shoestring budget, we all had a wonderful time getting to know each other and putting a face to the anonymous names on the internet.
Oh, how things have changed in a decade!
We’ve seen amazing gardens all over the US and Canada. Now a convention-style 3-day event with two full-sized charter buses, and a banquet with happy hour – it’s hard to believe we started with such humble beginnings.
So, sign up as soon as we open registration, it will fill fast. Not only will you see the best that Austin has to offer, attendees at the Austin Fling will receive a free commemorative souvenir booklet highlighting 10 years of Flings. For those who can’t join us, the booklet will be available to previous fling attendees for purchase by mail after the event.
Mark your calendar for May 3-6th — or longer – stick around for more fun on your own. Learn first-hand why our motto is: Keep Austin Weird. We will have information about other Austin sights and activities if you decide to make a bigger vacation out of your visit.
Keep an eye out for the registration announcement, and y’all come on down!