imageSo what happens when you mix free food and drinks, 50+ awesome open source projects, and a genuinely interested techy audience? You get Open Source Fest! Check out the photos our photographer took at Open Source Fest here on Flickr.

Last week we hosted the Open Source Fest event at MIX11. You can check out the pre-event post on Open Source Fest I did to see all 52 of the projects who signed up to present their projects.

Nearly 500 people attended Open Source Fest, many of whom stuck around for the entire event from 6pm to 9pm. The best barometer of the success of the event to me was that each open source station was packed all night long with people interested in learning about the projects. Seriously! I was glad I made an effort prior to the event to walk around and thank the open source leaders for coming because once the event started it was practically impossible for me to get their time since they were so busy sharing with the attendees.

If you want to follow the open source leaders, you can follow this twitter list I created for the presenters at Open Source Fest.

So who won?

All voting was close for both the community vote and the judge’s panel. The Judge’s Panel Award went to Josh Blake and his InfoStrat.MotionFx project. The People’s Choice Award went to John Sheehan’s RestSharp project. But the real winners were all of the projects. The voting mechanism was also a really cool way for me to inspire folks to go to each table (which seemed to work).

What would I do differently next time? First, I’d get a larger room and pre-order more food! We almost ran out of food 3 times and each time the MIX11 team authorized more right on the spot. Kudos to the team for covering this and to Mandalay for being on top of this and alerting me. I’d also change the entertainment as it was a bit too loud to have quality conversations. We lowered the volume throughout the evening and lessened the number of times they performed, but it was a good learning lesson. I’d also make sure the signs were a bit larger on the tables so folks could easily see them and I have a bunch of other great learnings too that will all help make it even better next time. Overall, it was a great 1st time for the event.

Will we do it again? I certainly hope so. The event was a success and it certainly helps that the feedback was plentiful and extremely positive. I know if I am involved in the next event planning I’ll be proposing it (I was “on loan” to the MIX11 team). I love hosting events that support networking, socialization, and creative discussion (UX Lightning, Firestarters, Open Source Fest, MIXer, etc). Jennifer Ritzinger and Mike Swanson deserve a ton of credit for being 100% supportive of the event. They allowed me the freedom to try something new that was entirely for the attendees. Also, a huge thanks goes out to Joan Hoshino and Sara Gavin of Realtime Productions, who helped pull my crazy ideas together and make it all work.

Most of all, thank you to everyone who showed up either to present or attend. I’m glad I got to meet so many of you for a great kickoff event to MIX11.