A shorter conference schedule and fewer conflicts among networking activities — that’s what participants at the American Society of Baking’s annual BakingTech conference this year told program planners they wanted. And that’s what they’re getting in 2013.

Rather than holding a welcoming event Sunday night, the committee decided to host a closing reception on Tuesday evening for this coming year’s BakingTech set for March 3-5 at the Marriott Downtown Chicago Magnificent Mile.

“If we make it easier to go to dinner on Sunday and Monday, by Tuesday night more people may be inclined to eat some finger foods, and less people will be as anxious to go to dinner,” said BakingTech 2013 Program Committee Chairman Mike Saulsberry, business manager, bakery ingredients, Watson, Inc., West Haven, CT.

The committee also listened to survey respondents when shortening the conference. Two-thirds of the approximately 40% of the 2012 BakingTech attendees who completed a survey following the conference this past March, he said, supported doing away with the final half-day of the conference. “We agreed as a committee that less time is more,” he added.

The theme for the BakingTech 2013 is Plant the Seed: Knowledge, Opportunity and Growth, and the program will maintain its educational focus, according to Mr. Saulsberry, who was asked to chair the program committee by 2012-13 ASB Chairman Michael Elenz, vice-president of manufacturing, Schwebel Baking Co., Youngstown, OH.

“I believe we as a society hold the future in our hands,” said Mr. Elenz, after taking over as ASB chairman and announcing the theme at BakingTech 2012. “With modern technology, our experience, our knowledge and our commitment to the society, we have the ability to reach and grow the society.”

BakingTech attracts nearly 1,000 industry professionals each year, making it the association’s largest gathering of members and partners. The event kicks off Sunday with the MarketPlace tabletop exhibits from 4 to 6 p.m., which will also be held at that time on Monday and Tuesday.

This year’s closing session is slated for Tuesday afternoon and will feature a tribute to members who have served in the armed forces. During this session, Jim Dibble will give a presentation on “The Real ‘Dough’ Boys of World War II” in which he will talk about his father’s service as baker during that world-changing conflict. Then Mathias Baum, bakery manager for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service’s Europe EIA Bakery in Gruenstadt, Germany, will describe baking for today’s armed services.

BakingTech maintains its educational focus, Mr. Saulsberry said. The conference features seven technical sessions with 18 paper presentations. Because there are so many breakout sessions to choose from, the upcoming event will feature roundtable discussions on Monday and Tuesday giving attendees the opportunity to meet with that day’s speakers in a more intimate setting.

To increase the number of bakers in attendance, ASB’s board of directors introduced a new Partnership Program, asking allied members to contribute funds for BakingTech Scholarships. The scholarships will help to cover costs for new member attendees with hopes of creating lifetime members of ASB as well as dedicated BakingTech attendees.

Early registration and housing deadlines are Feb. 1. Attendees can save $100 by signing up early for the event.

For more information on BakingTech 2013 and the program, please visit www.asbe.org.