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    What are you going to wear to the ball, Cinderella?

    You know, I talk to executives from member societies every day and one question keeps coming up in every one of those conversations: What are we supposed to wear to the Saturday night banquet at the Annual Meeting?!?!?!?

    Clint You’ll note in the registration material it says that dress for the closing dinner is “Western wear – jeans, boots, and cowboy hats.”  We also could have added “shirts with pearl snaps and belts with really big buckles.”  Now that doesn’t mean that the men HAVE to come in looking like John Wayne in “Rio Bravo” or Clint Eastwood in “Hang ‘Em High.”  Or that the women need to attire themselves like Annie Oakley or Calamity Jane

    What it does mean is that if you want to dress in the Western spirit of our host city of San Antonio, please feel free to do so.  “Texas tuxedos” featuring bolo ties with turquoise clasps would be more than appropriate for the guys.  And since I’m a big fan of Emmylou Harris, I think her concept of Western fashion would be an ideal model for the gals.

    Doris-as-calamity-jane Don’t have a closet full of Western wear for the event (and the jeans that you wear when you mow your lawn don’t count!)?  I’m sure the merchants of San Antonio would be more than willing to outfit you for the event, but remember that the dress code for the entire meeting is “business casual,” so you’ll also feel right at home in slacks, open-collared shirt, and sport coat or the female equivalent of skirts, sweater sets, and informal dresses.  And if you’ve already splurged for that one-of-a kind cocktail dress or have dropped five pounds so you can fit into your top hat and tails… well, feel free to wear that, too. 

    We’ve got a great event lined up for you – from the opening community service project to the closing banquet – and we want you to be comfortable and have fun.  Meeting registrants will receive plenty of additional information in advance of the meeting, but here are a few tips you might want to keep in mind:

    • The meeting officially kicks off on Thursday, September 17, in the main meeting room at 11:30 a.m.  For those of you participating in the community service event – and more than 120 people have signed up so far – we will be boarding busses at about 12:15 p.m. for the short drive over to the Family Service Association of San Antonio, Inc.  We’ll be doing some interior painting there, so please come to the opening gathering dressed in your work clothes.  Box lunches will be provided for all attendees.  Those participating in the community service event can enjoy them on the ride to the work site; other registrants can pick up their lunches and enjoy them on the River Walk or in the courtyards surrounding the hotel.  Busses will bring the community service volunteers back to the hotel in plenty of time to get gussied up for the Welcome Reception hosted by NFCA’s Portuguese-based societies.

    • It’s likely to be HOT in San Antonio, so if you’re planning on taking in some of the sights, be sure to bring loose-fitting clothes and comfortable shoes.

    • All other meeting functions – the Welcome Reception, Business Sessions and Workshops, Section Meetings, the Friday Luncheon, the Friday Alamo Dinner – are business casual.

    • Finally, you’ll also want to pack an open mind and an engaging spirit.  The general sessions and workshops are going to provide you with ideas and information you’ll want to bring home and put to use in your own society.  (We’re taping all the sessions so you can listen to the ones you weren’t able to attend in person.) And you’ll be able to network with hundreds of your peers from large and small fraternals during breaks and other free time.  Come ready to learn, share, and ask tough questions.  You’ll get out of the meeting what you invest in it.

    • Don’t forget to schedule meetings with our six Gold Sponsors.  This is a new feature of the meeting, replacing the exhibit area which both members and vendors agreed was getting a bit long in the tooth.  You’ll be receiving information from us about scheduling personal visits with sponsors so that you can get some quality time with business partners that can add real value to your society. 

    • Finally, let me know in advance what you’re hoping to get out of the meeting, and follow that up by letting me know if the event met your expectations.  I want to make sure we’re exceeding your expectations and delivering the kind of programming and networking opportunities that deliver real benefits to your society.

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