It was unfortunate. I was supposed to be speaking with Aaron Wolfe at CFUnited this year--one of the first presentations right after the keynote, to be exact. So, let me tell you how incredibly hard it was when Wednesday came and gone and the closest I could get to the conference was my Twitter feed. Of course, everyone has been saying this has been one of the best years so far, and I missed it. What does that mean? No teaching. No learning. No networking. No peer interaction. No socializing. No fun. No free drinks. No stay at a resort. No cool swag. No inspiration!!!
It's been a rough year for conferences for me. First, I missed Spring Break in Athens, OH. Then, it was the Centaur User Group Tour event here in Dayton. Then, CFUnited! Arrgghh!! For someone trying to stay active in the community (and a UG manager), I have failed miserably. Fortunately (or unfortunately), all of these instances have been out of my hands. Luckily, I might still get the chance to get some CF event love in before the end of the year. If any of you are in the same boat, you might get your chance as well.
There are two more events that I know of coming up in the next couple of months. The first is the first-ever FREE "CF in NC" cfinnc.com, a ColdFusion event in Raleigh, North Carolina. The event is being put on by the Triangle CFUG in Raleigh and spearheaded by Dan Wilson of nodans.com fame (and an accomplished developer and speaker). The event is October 17-18th over a weekend and is just getting off the ground. I am going to try to make this event as I have a sister-in-law who lives an hour away from Raleigh. Hopefully the drive won't be too daunting.
Another event closer to me personally is BFusion/BFlex in Bloomington, Indiana the following weekend, October 24-25th. This hybrid CF/Flex event is also over a weekend and has taken place the last few years. I attended last year and it was very well put together. There is a slight fee this year but it is miniscule and definitely shouldn't deter anyone from going. If anyone is within any reachable distance from Bloomington, they should be attending this conference.
While these are much smaller venues and not nearly as high-profile as CFUnited or MAX, they are also more intimate and often times a much better way to get to network and meet other developers. There is usually still some good swag from Adobe/sponsors at events like this, and the community interaction is always great.
If you're in the same position I've been in this year as far as conferences go, try to make one of the aforementioned events, or start your own! Talk to your local user group manager(s) about putting together a local event in your area. If there are other CF events you are aware of that I've not listed here, please leave a comment for all to see.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention one other small conference--MAX. I think I excluded MAX from being a CF conference despite the fact it is put on by Adobe mainly for two reasons: 1) I never get to go to MAX anymore because it is WAY too expensive and my company will never foot the bill 2) MAX is really an "Adobe" conference as opposed to a "ColdFusion" conference. Yes, there are quite a few CF tracks, but not the high concentration of CF-related presentation that comes with a CF only conference such as CFUnited or CfObjective(). There is a lot of concentration on other Adobe products I frankly never, ever use, like InDesign, After Effects, Soundbooth, etc.
MAX is a great conference, if one can afford it. But you know it's expensive when there is a "convince your boss" page on the site! I was lucky enough to get to go in '05 when it was in Anaheim, CA, the year before when it was in New Orleans, and the year before that in Salt Lake but haven't been back since. I don't know if I'd go back anytime soon. I'd rather attend a smaller, more intimate conference that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Yes, I enjoy traveling to locations like California, but it's just not cost-effective and honestly I'd rather go to California to play rather than to work. Just being honest!
MAX takes place October 4th-7th in L.A.