We have just finished hosting our Classical conference in Cambridge -- three days, 400 delegates, so not big in American terms, but big enough for us. Just showing up at a conference is a quite different experience from going to a conference that you're actually helping to organise. When you're part of the home team, it's all a bit of a worry. In particular you're desperate that every paper, every event will be really good. (Lets face it, when you're just an ordinary attender, part of the pleasure is the tut-tutting over a drink about those papers that were truly horrendous ...it's not so when you're responsible for the whole show).
The truth is, I confess, that I was a bit of a minnow in the organisational team, and only really took reponsibility for the two evening "Open Fora" (one on Socrates and one on the Future of Pompeii); all the same it is was sufficiently anxiety inducing and time-consuming to mean that I hardly got to any of the papers I wanted to hear or to speak to many of my mates.
As I've explained before, the idea of these was to open the conference to a wider public than just the signed-up conferees, and to put some interesting non-classicists into bat. Simple idea, so why so time-consuming? Well, on the one hand, all the usual potential disasters that needed averting (one of the participants had to withdraw for utterly cast-iron reasons with two days notice....bless her <we all do, for many reasins>, Germaine Greer stood in almost no notice at all, but it was an unpleasant Saturday afternoon). But even without that, if you're not practised at it, just getting 4 people to converge on the same place at the same time, feed them, get them jollied up to talk engagingly, and then get them away again, easily becomes a full time job for a few days... believe me!
So what was the verdict?