Episode 57: Spend An August Weekend At BAHACON
As the weather turns warmer, Humanists look to attend various conferences, events, and fairs. We gather in groups for affirmation, networking and the fun of socializing. We speak to Bob Barnes, President of Bluewater Atheists Humanists and Agnostics in Sarnia Ontario, about their conference coming up in August.
Bob Barnes is President of Bluewater Atheists Humanists and Agnostics based in Sarnia Ontario although they have members from both sides of the border. They will be hosting the BAHACON on August 26 through the 28th in Sarnia. BAHA is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the image of freethinkers and atheists and to give back to our communities. All profits from the conference are returned back to the communities.
BAHACON – 2023 Information and Tickets (Early Bird sales end June 30, 2023)
Read full transcript here
[0:00] This is Glass City Humanist, a show about humanism, humanist values, by a humanist. Here is your host, Douglas Berger. As the weather turns warmer, humanists look to attend various conferences, events, and fairs. We gather in groups for affirmation, networking, and the fun of socializing. In this episode, we speak to Bob Barnes, president of Blue Water Atheists, Humanists, and Diagnostics in beautiful Sarnia, Ontario, about their conference coming up in August. Glass City Humanist is an outreach project of the secular humanists of Western Lake Erie, building community through compassion and reason for a better tomorrow.
[0:51] All right. Our guest today is Bob Barnes. He’s the president of Blue Water Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics, based in beautiful Sarnia, Ontario, which is about two hours, two and a half hours north of Toledo. And although they have members from both sides of the, they do have members from both sides of the border, they will be hosting the Baha Khan on August the 25th through the 27th in Sarnia. And it’s a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the image of freethinkers and atheists and to give back to our communities. And all profits from the conference are returned back to the communities.
[1:34] And thank you for joining us today, Bob. Well, thanks for inviting us, Doug. All right, so tell us a little bit about the conference coming up and anything new since this This has been a yearly event. If there’s anything new that people need to know about. Yeah, we’ve updated our speaker platform from nine speakers last year to 12 this year. We’ve added them. We’ve added a lot of the meal functions as well. Like when all registrations this year include a buffet breakfast and buffet luncheon on Saturday. That’s everybody gets that, so it makes it very reasonable. Our total experience package includes it all, includes, six different meal functions, which is the VIP dinner, the dinner Saturday night as well as, the two breakfasts and the luncheon. And then we have an after party with hot hors d’oeuvres and stuff Saturday night. And then we have a luncheon boat cruise on the Sunday. And the boat cruise was the hit of the conference last year. Everybody just braved how much fun they had on it.
[2:54] It was so nice because we weren’t crowded at all. The boat is licensed for 192.
[3:05] But I’ve been on the boat enough times to know that when it gets up around 150, 160, it can be, be, I think, crowded. So we’re limiting to 160. So once we get the 160 on the boat part, and the only way you can buy it on the boat cruise, you have to come from the total package, total experience package. And there’s no doubt we’re going to sell out. We’re well over halfway there now. And we’re just shocked at how the tech sales are going. I mean, there There’s people like the Eventbrite actually put it on before we’re supposed to be on. And I went on one day and there’s already seven people bought and we haven’t opened the sales yet. Anyway, they’re very vigorous and we’re excited about that.
[3:53] Right. And I understand the location is going to be the same as it has been in past years. It’s just across the bridge from Port Huron. And I guess you said, you mentioned to me the other day that that they are, they have renovated it or they are renovating it. Yeah, they, it’s right at the bottom of Bluewater Bridge. When you come from Port Huron, Michigan, just as you come down the bottom, just look to the right, you can see it there. There. It’ll be a four-point Sheraton when we have the conference. It’s turning over to a four-point Sheraton in June. Everything’s renovated. Everything’s brand new. They’ve, gutted that place completely, and it’s really taken shape. I’ve been up looking at it. All, the rooms are all brand new, and they’ve actually moved one wall about three feet to make the rooms even bigger and stuff like that. It’s going to be a gorgeous facility. And last year, they already had the ballroom finished. And it’s a beautiful ballroom. They have five screens that come down from the walls with projectors on them. And they had a brand new sound system in it. And, And that room’s totally brand new. The washrooms are new, everything’s new. It’s a beautiful facility. And the one thing that we had thought about doing.
[5:18] At one time is we’ll have our VIP dinner where everybody sits around and it’d be eight to a table kind of stuff. We thought of taking it down, tables down and put theater style setting so we get more people in. But we decided that we want everybody to have a great experience. So we’re gonna leave the tables up and limit it to a number of people that can come. It’s so nice to have everybody around the table they can chat with everybody and have someone to put your drink in your purses and all that stuff. It’s much better. We’d rather have less people come and have them really love the place, you know. And if I can tell you who all the speakers are, we’ve got a great lineup. I listened to, Matt Delahunty on his podcast the other day, and he called it a stellar lineup. He couldn’t believe we got this kind of a lineup in two years. And we have Dan Barker, Seth Andrews.
[6:24] Arn Ra, Dave Warnock, Dr. Josh Bowen, Emmett Mehta, Mark W. Greer, Annie Laura Gaylor, Greta Vosper, Matt Delahunty, Jeremiah Camara, and Drew Brackes, which is a stellar lineup. We’re really excited about it. And, and they are all in person. Yes. They’re going to be in person. All in person. And most of them went on the, on the boat cruise last year. And that was what made it so nice. Cause people could go up to Seth Meyer or Seth Andrews or, or, uh, Dan Barker and just have a chat with him on the boat. It was, it was so great.
[7:05] Yeah. It was a highlight of our thing last year. Now, the sales this year, I’m surprised. We sold a lot of just single registration ones last year, but this year we’re not getting very many. Most are signed up for a total package because it’s such a deal, especially with the Canadian-American dollar right now. Holy smokes, our dollar has gone down so much that the Americans are already to get an advantage. Like for someone to come right now and sign up for the total experience package, it’s only $250 around that with the conversion and American funds. And that includes six meal functions. You just go to the American Atheist Convention or American Atheist and all of them, they’ll charge $300 and $400 and hard to get a meal. We get six and they’re great meals. They’re not just a hot dog. I’m telling you that the lunch on Saturday is a full sandwich, salad, soup, the whole works. So bargain-wise, we know we’re a great bargain because of our dollar going so bad. And when people register with Eventbrite, they automatically do the exchange, like if it’s, if it comes to $251.
[8:29] Something that American, that’s all, that’s all they pay. And then they convert it back up to the Canadians when they do our payout for us.
[8:40] Now, you said that you’re having speakers and you’re having meals and a boat trip. Are there any other activities or anything else that’s going on at the conference that weekend? Well, we have the full use of the whole place ourselves. We have a VIP dinner on a Friday night. There’ll be a cash bar just before it. And then on a Saturday morning, there’s a buffet, and then we have a luncheon on Saturday, and then we have a dinner on Saturday night for the people who are buying the total experience. And then Saturday night, we’re gonna, we have Jeremiah Camara. I don’t know if you know who he is. He’s a documentary producer and he has a movie he’s gonna show at our after party. And then on Sunday morning, we have Aaron Raw and Matt Dillahunty speaking just before the boat cruise. And then the boat cruise ends, That’s when the boat moves over, the conference is over. And you were mentioning about the cost. You said the total package is $250.
[9:44] And American funds that are like what, their early bird specials are on right now. And it’s 330 Canadian, which translates into about $251 American. And we just know it’s such a good buy for everybody because we’ve got a stellar lineup. We have great meals and a great facility. This place is like brand spanking new. But there’s lots of stuff nearby in Sarnia. We’re encouraging people to come early and stay late because they’re gonna get the same hotel rate. And we’re only two miles from beautiful sandy beaches and river walks and a casino and all that stuff. And the hotel room is great. It’s $134 Canadian, but it’s about $99 American for a brand-new four-point shard for $99. It’s just going to be a buy. For more information about the topics in this episode, including links used, please visit the episode page, at GlassCityHumanist.show.
[11:01] You also mentioned that the All Prophets go to or return back to the community. Do you have any of the charities picked out for this year? Yes, yes. We give to the Alzheimer’s Society and we give to Blue Water Health, which is the health system in Canada.
[11:23] Now your group, the Blue Water Atheist Humanist Agnostics, You meet on a regular basis outside, you know, having a conference, your regular going group. And how often do you meet? Well, we have a skeptics breakfast, it’s called, every month.
[11:45] And then we have what we call a pizza movie night. It’s at the library, we rent a room there and we show a movie. Then we have a discussion after. after. We have another event we call skeptics under the bridge. And that is, we have a big canopy tent kind of thing. And it’s about, I don’t know, 12 by 20 or something like that. We set it up right at the bridge. So we sit around and, you know, watch boats go by and eat French fries and, and just chat and have a great time that we do that once a month in the summer months. Then we have another event that we call Conversations on Tap. It’s at a local microbrewery here. And it’s the third Tuesday of every month. And it’s just and we usually have a certain topic. It’s not it’s it’s could be religion, it could be politics, it could be anything, but we just get together then. And then we do TED Talks, where we will show a movie, a TED Talk, and then have a 20-minute discussion, then we’ll show another one, then have another discussion after. Just ways to get together.
[13:03] And we pay attention to what’s going on in the area. If one of the Michigan groups has a special speaker come in or something like that will participate in their events too. Like the, Sunday assembly down in Detroit had a guided or a museum down there. And it was limited to so many people, but we got a hold of them. They said, yeah, there’s room for three. So three of our group went on this tour of the museum down Detroit. And it was great, I really, really enjoyed it.
[13:43] But we have people come from our group, even like we have, like London is about. Maybe 60 miles. We have people come down for a breakfast from 60 miles away. And we have down the south of a city called Chatham. We have people come up there. So we draw from quite an area. All right. And the, again, we said that the conference is August the 25th through the 27th. And you said that you’re having an early bird period. When does that expire? When does the early bird. Early bird is on to the end of June. End of June? Yeah. Okay. And the thing, the reason, you know, it’s hard to make it sound like a hard sell, but it really is not. We are going to sell out. The boat will go, we just know it. It just won’t hold any more than 160 people.
[14:38] So we could put in, we could cram another 30 and we’re not going to do that. But the other thing is we only can keep so many rooms in our block. So people wait to the end to get their tickets and get their hotel room, they may be disappointed because the hotel rooms are going like crazy too. And they ran out last year on their block. And so it’s hard to make it sound like it’s a hard sell, but it’s really not. It’s just the truth. They’re going to sell out of that room block. So, anybody’s thinking of coming, you know, they should at least get the rooms reserved right now. It’s, I don’t want anybody disappointed. All right, and so how would somebody register for your conference? They can go on Eventbrite and just Google BajaCon and it would come up. Or they can go on our, we have a website. It’s just www.BajaCon.com. There’s all kinds of information on her about that whole area and about the speakers and, the charities and all that stuff. So they can go on there and on our website, there’s a click they can hit that’ll take them right to the tickets there as well.
[15:54] And that will still work for people in the United States too, right? Yes. Yeah. Yeah, it goes straight and it’s quoted in Canadian funds, but they pay it if they’re from the States. It just goes into funds, you know, like U.S. funds.
[16:13] And as we were talking about before we started recording, all of the COVID restrictions for traveling across the border are gone. So now it’s just the regular, you just need your driver’s license and things like that. Yeah. If they have a passport, that’s probably the easiest. That’s better. Yeah, that’s a better one. But if they have what they call an enhanced driver’s license, which Scott, you’re picturing, that’s all we need there. Or if they have a regular driver’s license, they’ll need a birth certificate with it. Right. And it’s so easy to find, just come down the bottom of the bridge, it’s it right there, you know. Yeah, you might even see Bob, if you’re crossing the bridge, you might see him and, Oh, yeah. people as they’re coming across. Yeah, yeah. The people that were there last year, they just gave us rave reviews. If people want to, find out a little bit about our conference last year, if they go on YouTube and just Google Seth Andrews Balkan or Google Dave Warnock or Google Dan Barker. And they can see that on our website. So go on our website as well.
[17:34] When they go on Eventbrite, it’ll take you down to there. And they can talk about, I mean, I mean, the rave reviews we got from the speakers last year, it was just unreal. It was just, I just, and I can’t tell you enough about the speakers. That was our first conference, so I really knew that, but the compliments we got, we did things like, they’re different than other conferences, like all our speakers got a gift basket with a bottle of wine, one of our golf shirts with a few bottles of our local microberries and plus maple syrup and all that stuff. And I remember up in the room when we’re giving it to all the speakers, Dave Warnock said over to Seth’s voice, he says, we don’t get treated like this anywhere else, do we Seth? Because they’re not expecting the way we treated them. And another comment that I remember Seth saying, that he said that the lineup was so good. He says, usually when I go to a conference, I do my thing and then I’m out of here. Kind of thing. He says, your line, it was so good. I didn’t want to miss one of them. He said, I stayed for the whole thing. Steph never left the room. He listened to every one of the speakers. So that was a real compliment to us that the speakers were that good.
[18:56] Yeah, and I also want to point out to people too that conferences are a good thing to go to, because a lot of times people might think that they’re the only free thinker or atheist or humanist, in their area and then they go to a conference like this and everybody is just like you and.
[19:16] Have some of the same beliefs that you do and you get to hear from people like Hemant Mehta and and Seth Andrews and Matt Dillahunty that you normally either see them on YouTube or hear them on a podcast or something like that. Dan Barker, is he gonna play piano? Have you talked to him? Yeah, he’s always good. He’s at a VIP dinner. Yeah, doing the piano. Yeah, so it’s a good time. If people can go to a conference, if there’s only really one conference you can go to, And this one, like I said, is just basically two and a half hours away at the most. Yeah. You know, counting trying to get through the border. And for people in the Toledo area and Michigan and New York State area, this would be the thing to go to. Let me tell you, we’ve got people coming already from eight different states. Come from New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota, eight different states are coming. So the people like the one in red from Minnesota, that’s a 750 mile drive. So it makes a little look like a hop, skip and jump, you know.
[20:33] Yeah, and I was looking at the at the Google Maps today. And if you wanted to, you could take a side trip to London, Ontario, and then cut over to Sarnia. So you could see lower Ontario and see what’s going on with that. So it’s always a good time. We always encourage people to come early and stay late and the hotel, they’re extending the, if they come early or stay late, they get that same rate. And that’s a heck of a rate for the hotel they’re gonna get. So it’s a brand spanking new hotel. All right, and was there anything else you wanted us to know about your conference?
[21:14] That we haven’t already discussed? No, other than what our goals are. Our goals are to make this the premier conference around, the one, the go-to one, you know, and we’re going to have the best lineup, the best venue, the best food items, and stuff like that. So that’s our goals, you know, and we’re raising money for charity. I paid my board, we all paid to go last year. None of us, we do a lot of work. I probably spent more money in gas and people pay to go, but we still pay. I want people to know that we’re not doing it to get a free ticket and we all pay just like everybody else. And we’ve got so many good friendships now from last year. It’s just amazing how it gets to be like a family get-together, you know, like this year, like just about all the people here last year all re-registered already because they know it’s a good conference, they don’t want to miss out. So, they’re all waiting to see each other, the comments on their Facebook page and that’s something else that I might mention too, Doug, that we do have a, a Facebook page, it’s Bluewater Humanist Atheism, and Agnosticism, go on there. And we’ve got a lot of good articles. There’s a lot of good pictures and comments on the conference there too.
[22:43] Okay, well, I see a lot of people are looking forward to it and I see that it’s a good time and and I recommend people go to it if you can. It’s BajaCon 2023 and again, that’s going to be on August the 25th through the 27th and the early bird period ends at the end of June. So, if you want to get your hotel room and a good price, you know, get your ticket by the end of June. Yeah, well, I would suggest get even sooner than that, because we’re going to sell out. There’s no question. I just know it. All right, Bob. Thank you again for your time. And we really appreciate you letting us know about it. Yeah, I appreciate you spreading the word around for us too, Doug. You’re a real hero to us for doing that. Thank you very much. Thank you for listening. For more information about the topics in this episode, please visit the episode page at, glasscityhumanist.show. GlassCityHumanist is an outreach of the Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie. Surely can be reached at humanistswle.org. GlassCityHumanist is hosted, written, and produced by Douglas Berger, and he’s solely responsible for the content. Our theme music is Glass City Jam, composed using the Amplify Studio.
[24:12] See you next time!
Transcript is machine generated, lightly edited, and approximate to what was recorded. If you would like perfect transcripts, please donate to the show.
Written, produced, and edited by Douglas Berger and he is entirely responsible for the content. Incidental voice overs by Shawn Meagley
The GCH theme is “Glass City Jam” composed using Ampify Studio
This episode by Glass City Humanist is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.