This year, KansasFest tried an experiment by splitting the conference into in-person and online components. From feedback we received, this was an overwhelming success. Attendees at the in-person event were able to concentrate on the live talks without any network disruptions. Attendees in the online event were able to enjoy the recorded in-person talks and the remote talks. Online attendees also appreciated the additional Q&A sessions from the Kansas City presenters.
Combined, we had over 30 talks, spread out over five days (three in person and two virtual), along with gatherings such as SolderFest, the Garage Giveaway, and extended Q&A sessions with several Apple /// luminaries. We had approximately a dozen first-time attendees at the in-person event (out of 54 total), and our online event typically had 80-100 people watching at any one time.
Despite the successes, this year’s in-person event had some major challenges, including sub-standard cafeteria food, golf cart issues, and a COVID-19 outbreak.
Regarding the cafeteria, we don’t have a lot of control over the university’s dining hall, but we will be passing along the negative feedback to Rockhurst. In addition, due to many issues (dorm/dining, accessibility, network reliability, shower facilities, statewide LGBTQ equality), we are actively looking at different venues, possibly in a different state. More information will be coming later as our search continues.
Because of accessibility issues, we used our Apple II golf cart to transport attendees to and from the dining hall. This year it became apparent that our beloved vehicle is in need of some serious maintenance. We’d like to apologize to those attendees who were unable to use the cart for the first day and who had to have meals delivered. During the coming year, we will look at options including repair or replacement. This is also factoring into our search for a new venue as indicated above.
Finally, we must address the COVID-19 outbreak. In 2022, we held our in-person event and had no reported cases. That year, we required either proof of vaccination or a negative test before admittance to the event. Given what occurred this year, it’s apparent that we were very lucky last year. It is also clear that our protocols for 2023 were not adequate.
Living and eating together in a dorm environment presents unique challenges that other retro gatherings do not have. Also, it is clear that many individuals still have a stronger reaction to a COVID-19 infection compared to something like the common cold. Keeping KansasFest safe is our highest priority for all attendees, regardless of age or physical challenges.
To that end, we are developing our COVID-19 plan for KansasFest 2024, and will be announcing it in the spring. At this time our tentative plan includes:
- Require proof of an up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination (per CDC guidelines). Individuals who cannot be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons will need to submit a negative PCR test taken less than 72 hours prior to their arrival.
- Require all attendees to take a test upon arrival.
- If an attendee starts to develop symptoms, require them to immediately wear a mask and notify committee members.
- Attendees who test positive during the event will be asked to leave. If they are unable to leave (due to travel or illness), they will be relocated to a different room away from the other attendees, and will be required to stay isolated and have meals delivered. Note that we have a generous full/partial refund policy, regardless of the reason.
- Attendees who have come in close contact with an infected person will be required to wear masks outside of their rooms, and will need to eat separately.
Rest assured that we will have a contingency plan if an outbreak (3 or more cases) occurs. This plan may include any or all of the following:
- Require masks in all common areas.
- Eliminate shared meals in common spaces such as the cookout and pizza party.
- Require that individuals stay well separated while eating meals in the cafeteria.
To encourage a safe event, we will have a generous supply of testing kits, masks, hand sanitizer, and to-go containers in the cafeteria. We will also add a “no-meals” option to our registration pricing, for those attendees who want to eat separately.
As always, we strongly recommend that attendees take precautions such as travel insurance or refundable tickets, and have a contingency plan for if they get sick and must leave the venue.
We encourage you to send feedback on all of the above to the KansasFest committee, pr<at>kansasfest.org.
We look forward to seeing all of you at KansasFest/A24EVR 2024. Apple II (and ///) Forever!