As I have participated, spoke and taught at quite a few climbing events in the past, I have began thinking about how they are similar and different. Here is a list of differences:
Size: some events are small and at the grassroots level and some bring thousands of people together. You have to decide whether you want to be around when your local area says that there is a climbing event. The small ones are intimate and most everyone gets to know each other, experienced climber to beginner and the large ones are like a rock concert!
Location: most events are at desirable locations to climb but they may not be suitable for a big gathering of people. I have found great happiness in the ones where you can walk to everything including the event site, campsite, climbs and even the toilets. Other events where the camping is different from the event which is still different from the climbing can make it feel like you are running errands at while at home. I would say that ideal event locations have everything very close together.
Season for the event: some areas just can’t be climbed at certain times which means that in order for people to want to come the weather has to be nice for climbing and hanging out. What is nice now is that there are pretty much climbing events during every season and for all types of climbers be it bouldering, sport climbing, traditional climbing, aide climbing, ice and alpinism.
Purpose: most events purpose is about bringing climbers together for a good time and teaching new climbers about the sport. Some are about making money. Ultimately for me, they are about meeting new people, sharing stories, climbing, listening or watching speakers or videos and just getting outside for another weekend. Crags might be busy, you may not get to climb the route(s) that you planned on but you get to climb and get to know other climbers, travelers, and dreamers!
Giveaways: some events give away a ton of product from their sponsors. This can be smooth and it can be tricky. I have observed that the audience only stays around for the giveaways but they hate to do it. Raffles are tough to sit through. I enjoy the events where nothing is given away in the mass form at the same time but where you may receive a gift for participating in something at the event. Be that doing a clinic or playing a game or fun competition or attending a presentation.
Games: some events have tons of ways for climbers and non climbers alike to participate and enjoy the venue. It might be by trying to accomplish tasks while climbing or building a trail or cleaning an area or building a parking lot or running races or climbing competitions, costume parties or whatever. I have found that I like these the most! These games bring people together and get people talking to each other which is good for the community.
I have probably forgotten something in the list and I may update it later.
How does the Arcteryx Climbing Academy stack up? I will let you know in another day or two but the opening night was pretty good! I will report out soon.