RootsTech is the largest genealogical conference in the world with thousands of attendees — from professional genealogists to occasional hobbyists — from around the world. But if a genealogical conference sounds stale, you’ve never been to RootsTech.
RootsTech 2014 brought over 9,000 attendees (including 4,000 youth) from 49 states, six Canadian provinces and 31 countries. Live-streaming of the events drew approximately 150,000 views. RootsTech 2015 is on track to be just as popular with even more attendees. The event will be held Feb. 11–14, 2015, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City.
This year’s attendees might also catch a glimpse of (or see an entire performance from) one of several worldwide and LDS celebrities. Here’s a list of 10 familiar faces to watch out for at RootsTeach 2015. (All photos used by permission of RootsTech.)
1-2. Laura Bush and Jenna Bush Hager
Former first lady Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush Hager will be the RootsTech 2015 keynote speakers. Laura will speak the morning of Friday, Feb. 13, about the importance of family while they lived in the White House. She will also share memories of the difficult days immediately following September 11, 2001.
Jenna Bush Hager will join her mother for a fireside chat. They will share family stories as a new mother and grandmother (Jenna had a baby girl in April 2013).
“As we celebrate families across generations this year, I can’t think of more fitting guests to have join us,” FamilySearch CEO Dennis Brimhall said in a press release. “This will be quite memorable.”
3. Donny Osmond
Entertainer Donny Osmond will come to RootsTech 2015 as a keynote speaker on Saturday, Feb. 14.
“I’m already looking forward to this exciting event,” Osmond, who has been singing and entertaining audiences for almost 50 years, said in a press release. “Family and family stories are obviously very important to me. This is a chance to connect to something that is part of who I am.”
His speech will begin the final day of RootsTech 2015.
4. A.J. Jacobs
A.J. Jacobs, author of four New York Times bestsellers and editor at large at Esquire magazine, has taken on a new interest lately—family history. He will share what he’s learned (and what he hopes to do about it) at RootsTeach 2015.
His latest project is a quest to build a family tree that connects the entire world. He will host the Global Family Reunion on June 6, 2015, which he hopes will be “the biggest, most inclusive, most entertaining and most educational family reunion in history.”
“I’m a relative newcomer to genealogy, but I am thoroughly addicted to it,” Jacobs said in a news release. “It’s my favorite way to learn about history—and it’s the ultimate social network. I’m thrilled to be speaking at RootsTech, which is an extraordinary event and community. I can’t wait to meet more potential cousins.”
5. David Archuleta
The RootsTech 2015 closing entertainment will feature a performance by “American Idol” finalist and Mormon golden boy David Archuleta. The concert will begin at 5:15 p.m. on Feb. 14.
6-7. Alex Boyé and One Voice Children’s Choir
The team that brought you the popular YouTube cover of “Let It Go,” Alex Boyé and One Voice Children’s Choir, will perform at RootsTech on Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. Alex Boyé has collaborated with several artists during his career and has more than 100 million combined YouTube views. The One Voice Children’s Choir made it to the quarter finals on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”
8. “Studio C” Cast
The cast of BYUtv’s popular sketch comedy show “Studio C” will join David Archuleta as part of the closing entertainment on Feb. 14. The fifth season of “Studio C” premiered Oct. 6, 2014.
9. Noelle Pikus Pace
Family Discovery Day general sessions feature an inspiring lineup of well-known speakers, including LDS general authorities and well-known Church members. Olympic skeleton racer Noelle Pikus Pace will be among them.
Noelle became an Olympic Silver medalist in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, but only after great difficulty. A broken leg in 2005 dashed her immediate Olympic dreams. She qualified for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver but finished in fourth place after two of her sleds were damaged. She announced her retirement after that, but decided to make her comeback at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Her husband and two children watched from the stands as she won the silver.
10. Al Fox Carraway
Al Fox Carraway, known by many as the “Tattooed Mormon,” will also speak on Family Discovery Day.
She is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and speaks regularly about finding joy in the gospel, the importance of choosing to be happy and teaching by example.