I spent last weekend with 500 of my fellow pet bloggers at our annual gathering in Nashville, TN. This was my fourth BlogPaws conference, and it just keeps on getting bigger and better each year. And while the conference is still pretty “dog-heavy,” the contingent of cat ladies (and a few gents) is growing each year, thanks, in no small part, to the amazing Kate Benjamin of Hauspanther, who once again created the ultimate cat lover’s experience in the Cat Lounge.
I arrived in Nashville on Thursday morning, and after helping Kate in the lounge for a few hours, I snuck off for some sightseeing. I’m a huge fan of the ABC TV show Nashville, and I wasn’t going to miss seeing some of the locations where the show is filmed. Fellow Nashville fans Rachel Shubin of Sandpiper Cat and Christine Michaels of Riverfront Cats joined me on a four hour long tour that took us to several of the homes used in the show, as well as the famous Bluebird Cafe. It brought the show to life in ways that simply watching it on TV never could, and it made me fall in love with the city of Nashville.
Even though the tour was most definitely one of my personal highlights of this year’s BlogPaws experience, my real purpose of going there was to network and learn, and to help Kate in the Cat Lounge. Networking at BlogPaws is serious business, but since everyone there is involved with pets, it’s also a lot of fun, and an opportunity to make new friends and reconnect with old ones. Because I spent a lot of time in the Cat Lounge, I didn’t attend any sessions, but I did make time to catch the absolutely amazing keynote speech by social media guru, entrepreneur and angel investor Peter Shankman, who also happens to be a cat guy.
The Cat Lounge drew cat lovers like a magnet. In addition to many new products, I enjoyed seeing some of our sponsors’ products there. On Thursday evening, Kate organized a “make your own cat glasses” arts and crafts party, which was a lot of fun. I can honestly say that it was the first time I had ever wielded a glue gun!
There were several cats in attendance, too. I was thrilled to meet the lovely Summer, and so happy that I finally got to meet Katie and Waffles. Unfortunately, none of the photos I took of them turned out – I think I was too excited to meet them to worry about getting good pictures!
Friday night we were on our own – something I appreciate so much about how BlogPaws schedules its conference. Far too many conferences overschedule attendees with events every single minute of every single day, and you end up feeling guilty for taking some time for personal fun. Cat ladies Kate, Rachel, Christine and Deb Barnes of The Chronicles of Zee and Zoey and Kate’s fiancé Mark Allred piled into a taxi (yes, all six of us, and it wasn’t a large cab, either – don’t try this at home!) and had dinner at a vegetarian restaurant with the name, of all things, the Wild Cow. After dinner we went to the 5 Spot, a little club (which, much to my delight, was also one of the locations for the TV show) to listen to some music.
The three days, as always, flew by much too fast, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference in Phoenix. If you’re a blogger and you’ve never attended a BlogPaws conference, do whatever you can to make it happen for yourself – you won’t regret the investment.
Conscious Cat Sunday will return next week.