Friday, september 15
Bucky's Tailgate Buffet - $31
Traditional Wisconsin tailgate party! Wisconsin Waldorf Salad, Home-style potato salad, fresh vegetable and relish tray, beer-boiled Johnsonville bratwurst with Wisconsin sauerkraut and chopped fresh onion, grilled boneless chicken breast, fresh-sliced tomato and crisp lettuce, Wisconsin calico baked beans, condiments and buns, coffee, tea or milk. Cash bar.
SaturDAY, SEPTEMBER 16
Saturday ‘Non-Prayer’ breakfast Wisconsin cheese and chive scrambled eggs, apple-smoked bacon, rosemary wedge potatoes, ketchup compote, chef’s assortment of petite muffins, orange juice, coffee, tea and milk.
Non-Prayer Breakfast - $20
Wisconsin cheese and chive scrambled eggs, apple-smoked bacon, rosemary wedge potatoes, ketchup compote, chef’s assortment of petite muffins, orange juice, coffee, tea and milk.
Saturday ‘Grab and Go’ box lunch - $20
Includes your choice of roasted chicken or grilled vegetables on Kaiser roll with tomato, lettuce with condiments on the side, chips and a can of soda.
Saturday Banquet Dinner - $40
Cash bar opens at 6 p.m. Dinner served at 6:30 p.m.
Chicken Wellington: Delicate puff pastry filled with a boneless chicken breast, apple smoked bacon, shallots and mushrooms, served with mushroom-brown rice pilaf, fresh seasonal vegetable blend.
Portobello Wellington: Delicate puff pastry filled with fresh portabello mushrooms, herbs, shallots and risotto and served with grilled tomato.
Both entrees served with dinner rolls and butter, house salad with champagne-mustard vinaigrette, beverage (coffee, tea, or milk) and chocolate raspberry torte.
other dining options
HILTON MADISON MONONA TERRACE
The Capitol ChopHouse serves lunch and dinner, featuring the best steak and seafood in Madison. The award winning ChopHouse uses 28-day aged beef and line caught seafood to create a dining experience not to be forgotten. There is complimentary valet parking available from 5pm-10pm in the Hilton parking lot.
MONDAY 11:30 pm - 10:00 pm
TUESDAY 11:30 pm - 10:00 pm
WEDNESDAY 11:30 pm - 10:00 pm
THURSDAY 11:30 pm - 10:00 pm
FRIDAY 11:30 pm - 10:00 pm
SATURDAY 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
A sunny place to enjoy breakfast in the mornings with the Breakfast by Hilton Buffet Breakfast and Starbuck Barista Station. Relaxing lounge after 2 pm to enjoy cocktails and a light menu the evenings.
MONONA TERRACE - GrandView Café
Friday, September 15
9:30 a.m. - Noon
Early birds are invited to tour the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s beautiful, newly-expanded office, Freethought Hall, in downtown Madison, prior to the formal convention opening. Complimentary refreshments (light pastries, coffee, tea, orange juice, plus Champagne/Mimosas) will be served in the elegant Charlie Brooks Auditorium.
Reflect on a bench in front of FFRF’s granite monument dedicated to Atheists in Foxholes “and other freethinkers who have served our country with valor and distinction,” in the Rose Zerwick Memorial Garden & Courtyard.
Take a self-guided tour of FFRF's national headquarters (with its 5-floor addition) with the help of a souvenir brochure featuring highlights of the building and FFRF history. Socialize with staff and other FFRF members as you peek into the “Above Us Only Sky” Kenneth Proulx Cupola, the Stephen Uhl Friendly Atheist Studio, the Diane Uhl Legal Wing, the Harold Erickson Public Relations Wing, the Brian Bolton Executive Wing, the Patrick O’Reiley Editorial Wing and the “No Hell Below Us” Harry Lonsdale Lower Level.
Visit the Joel B. Landon and Wanda K. Beers Freethought Library for a photo op with “Mr. Darwin,” an amazingly life-like, silicone mannequin of Charles Darwin by artist Csam Wheatley.
Donors who helped with our building project may look for their paving stone in the patio, pretty tile in the vestibule or name in the Anne Nicol Gaylor Lobby featuring the Donor Wall and Wall of Honor. Every donor and donation is listed in alphabetical order in a Donor Book in the lobby. Freethought Hall is filled with fascinating artifacts from FFRF’s 39-year history!
Friday, September 15, 10:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
FFRF convention attendeees are invited to take a boat cruise on Madison's Lake Monona Friday, Sept. 15, prior to the start of the convention. The Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center, home to FFRF's convention , overlooks the scenic lake.
For $50 per person, you'll be treated to a two-hour tour with a buffet, featuring clam chowder, chips and Cajun dip, vegetarian variety platter, seafood salad, chicken salad, pasta salad, fruit salad, sliced deli meats/cheeses, and assorted desserts. There is a cash bar for beverages. The tour begins at 10:45 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m. We'll have bus service to take you from Freethought Hall or the Hilton to the boat launch and back to the hotel, or you can walk the route. Maps will be available. Unfortunately, the yachts are not wheelchair accessible, as the walkways are tight and there are narrow stairs to the banquet area. There are two yachts and a total limit of 86 passengers. If you are coming as part of a group FFRF will make sure your group is aboard the same boat.
One John Nolen Drive
Madison, Wisconsin 53703
Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center was first designed by Wisconsin native and internationally-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1938 as a cultural, governmental and recreational building. While Wright´s design was used for the building´s exterior, the interior was redesigned by Wright apprentice and Taliesin architect Tony Puttnam to house state-of-the-art exhibition, meeting and public space. The space opened its doors after nearly 60 years of debate on July 18, 1997.
Today, nearly 390,000 people say "see you at Monona Terrace" each year. From formal events like conventions and conferences to public events like Dane Dances, Monona Terrace has a wide geographic draw, attracting local, regional, state and international events each year.
Driving/directions. Use Google Maps for detailed driving directions from your point of origin. If using GPS please use these coordinates rather than One John Nolen Drive: 43.070249, -89.382499 You will arrive at the John Nolen Drive entrance to the Monona Terrace parking ramp. Or, Input 1 W. Wilson Street to enter the parking structure from Wilson St. or to use the drop-off lane.
Parking. Monona Terrace features a 600-space, automated parking structure. Parking entrances are accessible from the eastbound lanes of John Nolen Drive or via West Wilson Street. Acceptable forms of payment include MasterCard, Visa, or cash (no coin).
To use local bus transportation, see Madison Metro.
Reserve rooms now! FFRF is offering convention blocks at three hotels this year to accommodate more registrants!
, 9 E. Wilson Street, is the official convention hotel and closest to Monona Terrace. Rooms are $183 (single/double/triple/quad). Call 608-255-5100 to make a reservation for the “Freedom From Religion Foundation” group rate. The group rate reservation cut-off date is August 16, 2017. (Unless rooms sell out.) Click here for the group rate link.
The location of the hotel can be found here. If you are arriving from the Madison Dane County Regional Airport, which is 4 miles away from the hotel, travel International Drive for one mile, turn left on Packers Avenue. Packers becomes Pennsylvania, travel 1.5 miles to First St. turn left. Turn right onto E. Washington for one mile. Turn left on Blair, turn right onto Wilson. Continue 1/4 mile up, hotel will be on left-hand side.
If you plan on taking a taxi, the typical minimum charge, including a 15% tip, will cost you $24.55.
Self parking in the garage costs $17 and valet parking, which includes in and out access costs $20.
The Hilton offers a wide range of amenities including a pool, fitness room, bar area, automated teller machine, and room service.
Best Western Premier Park Hotel, 22 S. Carroll Street, is right on the Capitol Square, newly remodeled, and just 0.3 miles from Monona Terrace – about a 6 minute walk. Rooms are $189 (one bed for 1-2 people), $209 for 2 beds (1-4 people), or $249 for suites. Call toll-free 800-279-8811 or local 608-285-8000 to reserve rooms in the “Freedom From Religion Foundation 2017 Block.” The group rate reservation cut-off is August 14, 2017. (Unless rooms sell out.)
If you are arriving from the Madison Dane County Regional Airport, which is about 6 miles frm the hotel, head north on International Drive for 1.8 miles. Turn left onto Packers Avenue, which will turn into Pennsylvania Avenue and then into E. Johnson Street. Continue straight onto E. Gorham street for a mile before taking a slight left onto N. Hamilton Street for 0.2 miles. Turn right onto E. Dayton street, and then turn left at the 2nd cross street onto Wisconsin Avenue. Next, turn right at the 1st cross street onto W. Mifflin Street which will turn left and become N. Carroll Street. The hotel will be on the right-hand side.
If you plan on taking a taxi, the typical minimum charge, including a 15% tip, will cost you $25.40. The estimated cost to take an Uber or Lyft is $12.59.
For overnight guests, the hotel has guaranteed parking for one vehicle for $10 per night, valet only.
The Best Western includes fitness and leisure amenities such as a heated indoor swimming pool, a fitness center, B-cycle renatble bikes available across the street, and is close to the lakeshore biking and running path. For your comfort and convenience there is complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, a lobby and guest rooms equipped with outlets and USB ports, a business center, and an expansive pool deck with tables and chairs.
Sheraton Madison Hotel, 706 John Nolen Drive, is 2 miles away from Monona Terrace on a lakeside walking/biking path, with shuttle service available. Call 608-251-2300 or 866-716-8134 (toll-free) to reserve a room at $149 (single/double/triple/quad). The group rate reservation cut-off date is August 15, 2017. (Unless rooms sell out.)
Click here for directions to the hotel. If you are arriving from the Madison Dane County Regional Airport, which is 12 miles away from the hotel, head north on International Drive for 1.8 miles. Turn left onto Packers Avenue. In 0.4 miles take the ramp right and follow the signs for Aberg Avenue. Turn left onto Aberg Avenue. The road name will change to WI-30 E. In a mile, take the ramp right for US-51 South toward Stoughton. Stay on this for 0.8 miles before taking the ramp right for US-18 W / US-12 W / W Beltline Highway. Take Exit 263 (John Nolen Drive). The hotel is immediately on the right as you exit.
If you plan on taking a taxi, the typical minimum charge, including a 15% tip, will cost you $31.96. The estimated cost to take an Uber or Lyft is $17.86.
The Sheraton includes complimentary self-parking.
The Sheraton includes a fitness center, a business center, an indoor heated swimming pool, and complimentary high-speed internet access in all guest rooms and public areas.
The Sheraton offers three hotel dining options.
The Heartland Grill is open Monday - Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday it is open from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. It is open daily for dinner from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
The Harvest Lounge offers signature cocktails and local beer selections Sunday through Saturday from 2:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
The Level 1 Coffee Bar, where you can satisfy your caffiene fix, is open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Jerry Bloom is a retired RN, U.S. Army veteran, who’s interested in art, chess, urban archaeology, paleontology, stargazing and bird-watching. “My mission is to reinforce the wall of separation between church and state.” Jerry is the activist plaintiff in FFRF’s successful federal lawsuit, FFRF and Jerome H. Bloom v. City of Shelton, Conn., filed last year against censorship of FFRF’s winter solstice display. The federal lawsuit was settled in Jerry’s favor in February 2017, when the city agreed to stop hosting an angel display or any displays in Constitution Park.
Jerry will be one of several victorious state/church plaintiffs to be named 2017 Freethinker of the Year.
Brent michael davids
Davids is an American composer and flaurist and is a member of the Stockbridge Mohican nation of American Indians. He has composed for Zeitgeist, the Koronos Quartet, Joffrey Ballet, the National Symphony Orchestra, and Chanticleer.
Zenos Frudakis is a renowned sculptor known for his public monuments, portrait statues, busts and figurative sculptures. He has created an extensive award-winning collection of more than 100 bronze sculptures in public and private collections. His work includes sculptures of historic figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, General Eisenhower and Sir Winston Churchill. Freedom, his best known sculpture, has become an Internet icon inspiring many in their quest to break free from boundaries. It has been listed in The Top Ten: Public Art by The Independent.
The oldest of five children growing up in Greek culture, Zenos admired, respected, and was drawn to Greek sculpture. Greek art influenced his aesthetic vision; additional inspiration came from sculptors Michaelangelo, Bernini, Carpeaux and Rodin. Zenos studied by scholarship at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, completing his formal education with a Bachelor in Fine Art and a Master in Fine Art at the University of Pennsylvania.
Zenos' emphasis has been the figure and the portrait. He excels at expressing the character and vitality of his subjects while capturing an accurate likeness. Zenos portfolio includes figure sculpture, animals, bas-reliefs, portraits—both busts and paintings—of living and historical individuals, and poetic/philosophical sculpture with a post-modern sensibility.
Although Zenos creates personal, expressive works of art, he is a commissioned artist with wide-ranging versatility capable of sculpting subjects from the human form to animals.
Michelle Goldberg is an author and columnist for Slate. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
Goldberg’s first book, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, was a finalist for the 2007 New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism. In 2009, she published The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World, which is based on her reporting about the state of women’s reproductive rights across several continents.
In 2008, The Means of Reproduction won the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.
Her work has also appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, Glamour, Rolling Stone, The Nation New York, The Guardian (UK) and The New Republic. Goldberg has taught at NYU’s Graduate School of Journalism, lectured throughout the United States and in Europe, and has been interviewed on many radio and television shows.
Kelly Helton, a 12-year-old seventh-grader from Kentucky, will give a short talk aboout her activism, including sitting down for the Pledge of Allegiance and successful efforts to get her public school to stop playing religious songs.
CARA SANTA MARIA
Cara Santa Maria is a Los Angeles Area Emmy and Knight Foundation Award winning journalist, science communicator, television personality, producer, and podcaster.
Cara reports on local issues for SoCal Connected on KCET, and she hosts the digital companion series for the popular competition reality show America's Greatest Makers on TBS. Cara is the creator and host of a weekly science podcast called Talk Nerdy with Cara Santa Maria and cohosts the popular Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. She is a founding member of the Nerd Brigade and cofounded the annual science communication retreat #SciCommCamp.
Previously, Cara was a regular contributor to TechKnow on Al Jazeera America and Real Future on Fusion. She also cohosted Brain Surgery Live on National Geographic Channel. She was a cohost and producer of TakePart Live on Pivot TV and FabLab on Fox. Before that, she was the Senior Science Correspondent for The Huffington Post and costarred in Hacking the Planet and The Truth About Twisters on The Weather Channel.
Cara has made appearances on BBC America, CBS, CNN, Current TV, Fox, Fox News, G4tv, Nat Geo WILD, Science Channel, SundanceTV, and the Travel Channel. She is also a contributor to The Young Turks.
Prior to her career in media, Cara taught biology and psychology courses to university undergraduates and high school students in Texas and New York. Her published research has spanned various topics, including clinical psychological assessment, the neuropsychology of blindness, neuronal cell culture techniques, and computational neurophysiology.
She will be speaking on "She, Atheist."
Maryam Namazie is an Iranian-born secularist and human rights activist, commentator and broadcaster. She is spokesperson for Iran Solidarity, One Law for All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.
Namazie was born in Tehran, but left with her family in 1980 after the 1979 revolution in Iran. Namazie first worked with Ethiopian refugees in Sudan. In the United States in 1991, she became the co-founder of the Committee for Humanitarian Assistance to Iranian Refugees (CHAIR).
She has specialized into challenging cultural relativism and political Islam. These activities were recognized by the National Secular Society with the 2005 Secularist of the Year award, making Namazie its first recipient.
She is the Spokesperson for Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation, One Law for All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. She hosts a weekly television program called Bread and Roses. She is humanist laureate at the International Academy of Humanism; National Secular Society Honorary Associate; Honorary Associate of Rationalist International, among others.
She will be receiving the Henry H. Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalism award of $10,000.
Steven Pinker, FFRF’s honorary president, is a cognitive scientist, psychologist, linguist, and popular science author. He is Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, and is known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind.
He is one of the world’s foremost writers on language, mind and human nature. Pinker has also taught at Stanford and MIT. He has also received eight honorary doctorates, several teaching awards at MIT and Harvard, and numerous prizes for his books The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate and The Better Angels of Our Nature. He is chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and often writes for The New York Times, Time, and other publications. He has been named Humanist of the Year, Prospect magazine’s “The World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals,” Foreign Policy’s “100 Global Thinkers,” and Time magazine’s “The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today.”
Katha Pollitt is well known for her column in The Nation, "Subject to Debate," which the Washington Post has called "the best place to go for original thinking on the left." She will be receiving FFRF's Forward Award at the convention.
In 2011, the New York City native won the American Sociological Award for Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues. Her 1992 essay on the culture wars, "Why We Read: Canon to the Right of Me..." won the National Magazine Award for essays and criticism, and she won a Whiting Foundation Writing Award the same year. In 2013, her column won a Maggie Award from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, as did her 1993 essay "Why Do We Romanticize the Fetus?"
She has previously received FFRF's Emperor Has No Clothes Award and Freethought Heroine Award.
Paula Poundstone is one of America’s top comedians. She is listed in Comedy Central’s list of “100 Greatest Stand-Ups Of All Time” and has also won an American Comedy Award for Best Female Standup Comic. She routinely identifies as an atheist in her performances. Among Poundstone’s claims to fame is her regular appearances as a panelist on NPR’s funny weekly news quiz show, “Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me.”
In 2016, Paula voiced the character “Forgetter Paula” in Disney/Pixar’s Academy Award-winning animated feature film, “Inside Out.” In June 2016, her first double-live CD, “North By Northwest: Paula Poundstone Live!” debuted at No. 1 on both Amazon’s “Hot New Releases – Nonfiction” and “Comedy CD” lists.
In 1992, she became the first woman to host the prestigious White House Correspondents dinner in its 72-year history.
Marie Schaub is the successful plaintiff in FFRF's lawsuit against a Pennsylvania school district over a Ten Commandments monument ouside her daughter's school.
Kimberly Veal is president of People of Color Beyond Faith, president and host of the Black FreeThinkers Radio Network, IT trainer, and communnity and social justice activist.
Roy Zimmerman is an American satirical singer-songwriter and guitarist with a repertoire of irreverent songs.
He wrote a series of satirical musical reviews in the 1980s that were produced by the San Jose Repertory Theatre. The musicals parodied the excesses of the evolving yuppie culture in Silicon Valley.
Zimmerman founded The Foremen, a Southern California satirical folk quartet. It performed at the national conventions of both major American political parties in 1996. Continuing as a solo act, Zimmerman explained the philosophy behind writing and performing humorous songs on increasingly political subjects: “There’s nothing funny about world peace. Social justice never killed at the The Comedy Store. If we ever attain a worldwide consciousness of peace and justice, I’ll be happily out of a job. But as long as there’s poverty, war, bigotry, ignorance, greed, lust and paranoia, I’ve got a career.”
Zimmerman played in the Rock Beyond Belief concert on March 31, 2012, at North Carolina’s Fort Bragg.
fOrward! Marching band
Founded in Madison, Wis., in 2011, Forward! Marching Band gained members and experience marching around the State Capitol in the snow and rain in the crucible of a groundswell of protests held that spring.
“We believe in using music to help fuel social change, have fun and build community.”
Forward! Marching Band is an ever-changing group of musicians of all skill levels, with diverse ages, musicianship and abilities. Instruments run the gamut from traditional band instruments to home-brewed xylophones and washboards.
“We love costumes, silly hats and spectacle.” Forward! Marching Band brings lively tunes to protests, marches, rallies, parades and community events.
The band will play during FFRF’s first-ever “Tailgate Party” buffet dinner Friday night.
Join us for an unbelievably good time
Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center
One John Nolen Drive
Madison, WI 53703
FFRF is proud to be hosting its 40th annual national convention in Madison, Wisconsin, this year! It will include high-profile personalities, a tour of FFRF's Freethought Hall, and a two-hour boat cruise around Lake Monona.
The convention takes place the weekend of September 15th-17th, largely at the lakeside Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison, Wisconsin. Early-birds signing up for FFRF's 40th convention get a discounted rate of only $40! You can sign up now by going to our "registration" page.
A pre-convention open house of FFRF's impressive Freethought Hall, in downtown Madison just blocks from the convention site, will be hosting from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday. Mingle with others, meet staff and visit FFRF's monument to Atheists in Foxholes (military and veterans). Take a souvenir photo with the life-size mannequin of Charles Darwin in Freethought Library. Enjoy complementary pastries, hot beverages, Mimosas or Champagne in the lovely fourth-floor auditorium featuring a beautiful grand piano.
An optional relaxing boat cruise with buffet lunch on Madison's Lake Monona starts at 10:45 a.m. on Friday. You'll be out on the water for two hours, with a spectacular view of the Monona Terrace and Convention Center to enjoy, returning to shore at 1 p.m. Although it's within walking distance, a shuttle bus will be offered.
Recently added to the list of speakers are science educators Cara Santa Maria, renowned sculptor Zenos Frudakis and 12-year-old activist Kelly Helton, along wiht a roster of victorious state / church plaintiffs.
Santa Maria is a Los Angeles area Emmy and Knight Foundation Award winning journalist, science communicator and host of the weekly science podcast, "Talk Nerdy with Cara Santa Maria" and cohost of the popular "Skeptics' Guide to the Universe." She'll receive FFRF's Freethought Heroine Award.
Frudakis, of Philadelphia, is an award-winning sculptor of public monuments, portrait statues, busts and figurative sculptures. He'll be talking about creating his highly publicized statue of Clarence Darrow, to be installed in July on the lawn of the Rhea County Courthouse, site of the Scopes Trial, in Dayton, Tennessee.
Helton, a seventh-grader from Kentucky, will give a short talk about her activism, including sitting down for the Pledge of Allegiance, and successful efforts to get her public school to stop playing religious songs.
We will soon be announcing those to be named Freethinker of the Year, an award reserved for state/church complaints, and other speakers.
Previously announced speakers include:
Michelle Goldberg, Brooklyn author, columnist for Slate and frequent MSNBC commentator on the Religious Right.
Maryam Namazie, an Iranian-born secularist and human rights activist, commentator and broadcaster living in London. She will be receiving the 2017 Henry H. Zumach Freedom From Fundamentalist Religion Award.
Steven Pinker, FFRF's honorary president and Harvard cognitive scientist, psychologist, linguist, and popular science author.
As always, FFRF's legal team will present its yearly Accomplishments panel, reporting the inside scoop of FFRF's 2017 legal cases.
Other annual events include the "Non-Prayer Breakfast," the annual drawing for "clean," pre-"In God We Trust" currency and the opportunity to browse FFRF book and sales tables.
Entertainment will be Roy Zimmerman, an American satirical singer-songwriter and guitarist with a repertoire of irreverent songs, and FFRF Co-President Dan Barker at the piano with his own repertoire, plus a performance by Madison's own Forward! Marching Band.
Convention registration opens at 2 p.m. at Monona Terrace, with snacks and opening talks you won’t want to miss between 3-5 p.m. For Friday dinner, sign up for the optional first-ever FFRF Tailgate Party, (featuring Forward! Marching Band), serving up Wisconsin tailgate favorites from 5-6:45 p.m. in the convenient lakeside Grand Terrace. The evening program begins Friday at 7 p.m., ending with complimentary cupcakes and beverages in the Grand Terrace. The convention resumes Saturday with the optional Non-Prayer Breakfast at 8 a.m. The morning program starts at 9:30 a.m. After a two-hour lunch on your own (with an optional “Grab and Go” Box Lunch available) the program resumes at 2 p.m. The dinner banquet is followed by the “clean money” drawing, evening speaker and entertainment. Sunday morning features the annual meetings of members and state representatives, ending by noon.
Registration deadline for the convention is Friday, September 30. Registration deadline for Fallingwater tour is Friday, September 23. You can register at the door, but this does not include meals.
Check out all that Pittsburgh has to offer
By Kim and Stephen Hirtle
FFRF is bringing this year's convention to Pittsburgh, Pa., on the weekend of Oct. 7–9, a city that has been garnering national and international attention for its quality of life and unique features.
Recent accolades for Pittsburgh:
- Listed as one of the best places in the world to visit (Travel + Leisure).
- Rated as the No. 1 food city in 2015 (Zagat).
- Offers America's most stunning views (USA Today).
- Listed as the "coolest American city you haven't been to" (Huffington Post).
Pittsburgh, with a population slightly more than 300,000, is also known for having more bridges than any city in the world, including Venice. The three main rivers — Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio — join downtown at Point State Park. Two inclines (funicular railways) dating back to the late 1800s take tourists and commuters up the side of Mount Washington, just as they did when steel was the main industry.
Downtown Pittsburgh, where the FFRF convention will be held, is known for its striking and varied architecture, notable restaurants and cultural amenities. The Andy Warhol Museum (named for a Pittsburgh native) and the Carnegie Science Center are just across the river on the North Shore. The Carnegie Natural History and Carnegie Art Museums are housed together, a short taxi or bus ride away, in the Oakland neighborhood, which is also home to Phipps Conservatory and two world class institutions: the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University.
Across the street from the Cathedral of Learning is the Carnegie Natural History Museum, known for one the largest collections of dinosaur fossils in the world, including the Diplodocus Carnegii, named in honor of Pittsburgh native and freethinker Andrew Carnegie.
For those seeking outdoor activities, there are bike rental locations downtown, with bike trails throughout the city and along the rivers. Kayak Pittsburgh operates on weekends in October, just a short walk from the hotel, and for a modest fee, you can get out on the Allegheny River for an hour or two of exercise with excellent views of the skyline and stadiums.
FFRF visitors are encouraged to check out Market Square, a large European-style plaza surrounded by 14 restaurants near the hotel.
Those coming to the conference a day early will have the opportunity to visit Fallingwater. Considered to be the most iconic of all of Frank Lloyd Wright's designs, the house was built on top of natural waterfall.
Stephen Hirtle is chair of the FFRF Executive Board and professor of Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh.