I attended for the morning and Brian attended in the afternoon and did a session as well. It was interesting to compare it to the Orlando and Tampa events that we've been to recently. I think Orlando was the most well run in terms of most of the details. Orlando and Tampa also had 400+ attendees, I think the Jacksonville count was less than 200. From a sponsor perspective - that is, someone asked to contribute money to the cause! - none of the three events were hugely sponsor friendly. It's not enough to just put up a table for a sponsor, they need a good flow of traffic by the table, handouts should be included in an event bag rather than just picked up at registration if they are interested, even little things like making sure there are enough chairs for all the sponsors. That's not to say there isn't value there for the sponsors, but if you work a little harder on the little things you increase the chances they opt back in the following year and that's when you start to really succeed (lowers the effort to get things done). From a content perspective all three were good events. Nice variety, speakers who were interested in their craft and wanted to share.
One trend I do see is that especially on the .Net side is a lot of MVP participation. On the plus side they bring a lot of knowledge, experience, etc to the table. The downside is that these events should - I think - try to make plenty of room for the local & beginner speakers on the agenda. As long as both can be accomodated, good! Good "name" speakers can help drive attendance, but so can local speakers that tend to bring out co-workers to lend their support.
I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.