WordCamp Birmingham is the first in-person WordCamp on the schedule for 2022. The event will be held at the Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema in downtown Birmingham on February 4-5. It is one of the first cracks in WordPress’ iced over event landscape after the pandemic brought in-person gatherings to a halt.
“WordCamp Birmingham was one of 40 or more WordCamps that needed to cancel or postpone in 2020,” lead organizer Ryan Marks said. “We had intentions of just postponing until 2021. During WordFest 2021 in July, Matt Mullenweg said, ‘I encourage people to start planning. As soon as you feel safe to do so, do so.’ The proposal to return to in-person WordCamps was announced within a week of that interview. The local team met in August and targeted early February for our event. When the announcement updating the guidelines for in-person WordCamps was posted in September, it gave us a green light to keep moving forward.”
The updated guidelines for in-person WordCamps require that attendees be fully vaccinated, recently tested negative, or recently recovered in the last three months. Marks said the organizing team has not made a decision about whether to require masks but will be monitoring local health guidelines and communicate any expectations with attendees in January.
WordCamp Birmingham secured a flexible arrangement with the venue in case they need to cancel.
“The contract with Sidewalk Film Center + Cinema gives us the flexibility to cancel without any loss of deposit as long as we give notice more than 7 days before the event,” Marks said. “This was sufficient for our local organizing team and WordPress Community Support.”
Marks reported that the process of getting the WordCamp approved was “quite smooth” thanks to assistance from their mentor, Kevin Cristiano, who worked with them on budget review.
Although the maximum capacity of the venue is 300, the organizers have capped attendee numbers at 200 as a precaution.
Tickets are on sale and the calls for speakers, sponsors, and volunteers is open. Organizers expect that it will sell out quickly since it’s the first in-person WordCamp since all the pandemic cancellations.
“The best thing about WordPress isn’t the software, it’s the community,” WordCamp Birmingham speaker wrangler Nathan Ingram said. “And WordCamps are where the community meets, shares, and learns together. Virtual WordCamps have been necessary, but just aren’t the same as being together face to face.
“WordCamp Birmingham is the oldest WordCamp in the Southeast – our first WordCamp was in 2008. I hope that this year’s WordCamp Birmingham is a family reunion – a place where friends and colleagues can gather and enjoy the community that makes WordPress so great.”