The SQL Saturday in Cleveland was this past weekend, and it was well run and well attended. The primary focus of SQL Saturday events is learning, but learning happens in many different ways at these events.
The obvious way is in sessions. Speakers, both local to the event and from around the country, present sessions on aspects of Microsoft's Data Platform, and people attend these sessions and learn from these speakers, who are donating their time and expertise to help our community.
The next way is through the sponsor tables, where people get to speak with people offering products and services that can help them solve problems that they encounter in their jobs. They are learning what those products and services can do to help them, and the sponsors are learning what kinds of product features or services will help their potential customers. I'd personally love to see more people spend time with the sponsors, as the SQL Saturday events exist because the sponsors pay to be there, and that's what covers most of the expenses of the event.
During the day, the attendees talk with each other, and often share the problems they're having, and frequently get good ideas from their fellow attendees, learning new ways to approach problems they are having. Since many data professionals have no other person at their company who does what they do, it's events like this that help them talk through the problems with others who do similar jobs.
My favorite moment at Saturday's event, however, was after my session was over, and I was sitting in the Speaker ready room, catching up with a couple of friends who traveled from out-of-state to present in Cleveland. One of the speakers was trying to nail down some details on parameter sniffing and how the plan cache works, and asked another speaker, who's well known for teaching sessions on query performance, how the query processor knows what the plan looks like when there's just a plan stub. The entire room went silent, and waited for an answer. It was like magic, this was a room full of well-known speakers who focus on Microsoft's data platform products, and every one of them stopped to hear the answer.
We never ever stop learning, and the best of us know that you can never ever stop learning. It's for moments like these that I always look forward to going to our community events.