Bringing Twestival to #CoMo

A little more than a year ago I stumbled into an event called Twestival. It's a social media-based international event that raises money for a good cause. Last year it raised money for an international charity called charity:water and this year it raised (and continues to raise) money for Concern Worldwide. When I first read about it a year ago, I knew my small community of Columbia, Missouri needed to join. I've used Twitter for a long time in this community (at least long for mid-Missouri - I joined in June 2007 and quit and then rejoined in October 2007). Many of the Twitter users were trying to get me to create a meetup in town so we could meet face to face. So that pressure convinced me to put it together. In 2009, I had two weeks and coordinated it solely over Twitter. This year I had more time and had a group of students and a local supporter of bringing Google Fiber into our town to help make this event shine. I sat down with the owner of one of my favorite restaurants, Shakespeare's Pizza, and got his permission to host the event in the back room. I got to explain how Twestival is really just a chance to hang out and have fun. I got the thumbs up and had a chance to move forward with looking for donations. We were lucky to raffle off a Nexus One phone, hand out a door prize of a Wii gaming system and a number of other items donated by local businesses. With the help of word of mouth, social media and a couple of mentions of the event on TV, we had an amazing turnout. Kids were playing Wii. Little kids could watch DVDs while the adults and big kids got to hang out, talk and enjoy pizza. We had so many people, we ran out of name tags and I had someone go out to get more! We didn't set a fundraising goal for Twestival, but I think it exceeded our expectations. We raised $735! Last year was just under $300 so we made a huge jump. I also think this was the first time I really saw a big variance of attendees for a social media meet up. It wasn't just coders and college students. We had parents, business owners, employees of local businesses, college students, coders, professors and members of the media (covering the event and not covering the event). I'm proud to see how mid-Missouri's social media culture has expanded in a year. I can't imagine how big a party we'll have next year!

(Thanks to Justin Willett/@willettjf for the Twestival picture. I was so busy I forgot to take pictures!)