This past Memorial Day weekend I traveled to Southern California to attend Camp Blogaway in the middle of picturesque San Bernardino Mountains. Duda Farm Fresh Foods (also known as Dandy Produce) sponsored my attendance to the event which is why I had the opportunity to lead my fellow food bloggers through a fun little Bloody Mary making competition! Don’t worry, this preggo didn’t consume any of the cocktails. :)
Here’s how it worked: every table had their own tomato juice fountain and each place setting had a mini bottle of vodka. For mix-in’s and garnishes, we set out two huge buffets of every ingredient under the sun – from olives to celery salt to hot sauce and everything in between.
Speaking of garnishes, each glass came with their own Duda Farms celery straw. Yes, you heard right, celery STRAW! The amazing thing we learned is that these celery straws are grown that way naturally. They are not hollowed out to form a straw. Isn’t that amazing? Apparently celery used to grow that way and then over time the straws were no longer produced. Duda is bringing them back and if you love a good Bloody Mary, you will love celery straws.
Rules: Every blogger had 15 minutes to create their own one-of-a-kind Bloody Mary. Since we would not be tasting the concoctions (we wanted the bloggers to enjoy the fruits of their labor!) we would be judging based on originality, creativity and best usage of garnishes and ingredients.
When the 15 minutes were up, each table had to submit one finalist. Above is the row of all 11 finalists. As you can tell, each one is incredible! We were blown away with the creations of the bloggers.
Do you notice the little olive heart on the top left? I’m also loving the perfectly sized cup and fork full of delicious goodies on the bottom left! To be honest, we simply couldn’t decide so guess what? YOU get to decide for us! Head on over to Duda Farm Fresh Foods to vote for your favorite today – voting is only open for a limited time!
Prizes: The Grand Prize Winner based on popular vote will receive complimentary registration to Camp Blogaway in 2014!! That’s not all: all of the bloggers who sat at the same table with the winner will receive a $50.00 gift card to William Sonoma!! Boom.
If you’ve never attended Camp Blogaway in the past and are curious about the conference, I highly encourage you to experience it first hand. Patti from Worth The Whisk is the founder of this event and is responsible for every wonderful aspect that we enjoyed. Speaking of wonderful aspects, let me share a few of mine from the weekend:
Scenery: As bloggers, it is very easy for us to remain plugged in and connected 24/7. There is no wifi at camp and campers are warned in advance not to expect cell phone coverage. To be perfectly honest, I was slightly disappointed when I discovered I had Verizon service. The truth is, it was really nice to attend a conference where everyones’ heads weren’t face down into their phones the entire time. Fresh air, mountain views and gorgeous scenery – you really can’t go wrong with the scenery at this conference.
Food: As a healthy food blogger, I was so thrilled to have fresh produce, whole grains and unlimited (free!) water available at all times. In hotels and conference centers you can often find yourself springing $3 for a banana or a bottle of water. I didn’t spend a single dime during my entire time here. I also didn’t gain 5 pounds. Bonus!
Networking: Coming from the midwest, it was really nice to meet a whole new group of food bloggers predominantly from the west coast. To be perfectly honest, 75% of the bloggers were “new to me” and I am so grateful for the many new connections I made during this conference. My hat goes off to Patti who ensures that “no connection goes unmade”. To make this possible, we took just a few minutes on the first day to go around the entire room so that each blogger could stand up and say hello when their home page appeared on the overhead projector thanks to the PowerPoint that Patti made. I wish every conference did this because it can be so hard to match real people with tiny little Twitter pictures you may or may not recall. :)
Learning: Conferences can be exhausting after long days of non-stop sessions and breakouts. When you’re still on east coast time and four months pregnant, sitting in a room all day can be tiring. Guess what? The days FLEW by and so did every session. From eBooks to Monetizing Your Blog to Building Your Food Career and everything in between, I came away with so much great information and new inspiration to take my blog to the next level.
One great session was lead by Stephanie and Jessica titled “Strategies to Keep Your Blog Going and Not Run Out of Steam”. Above is a formula these savvy, experienced bloggers shared for calculating your worth as a blogger. As bloggers and females, we so often under value our worth. The session was really eye opening and inspiring on many levels.
Save The Date: 2014 Camp Blogaway is scheduled for May 16 to 18!
And don’t forget to head over to Duda Farm Fresh Foods to vote for your favorite Bloody Mary! Recipes for each drink are also shared so that you can try one yourself at home!