Frequently Asked Questions

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I’m looking for an opportunity to do Service work. How can I help?

Help Us Make This Year’s Conference A Success!

Interested In Volunteering? Take some time to give back to others and help us make this conference a success. Visit the

Volunteer Opportunities

 page and send us a message to be a AA or Al-anon volunteer



All are welcome to attend a Planning Committee meeting and volunteer. You can find subcommittee job descriptions on the committee information page.

The Committee meets (almost) every other Wednesday at

McHenry Township Hall

3703 North Richmond Road

Johnsburg, IL 60051

What do you do with all the money taken in at the Conference?

Soberfest is an AA group that follows AA Traditions and the General Service Office guidelines. Soberfest keeps a ‘prudent reserve’ like all groups should, as recommended in the AA Service Manual. That money is used to start organizing next year’s conference.The largest portion goes to the facility, the cost for the banquet, and lots and lots of coffee. A portion is spent on air fare and lodging for our speakers. Badges, printing, signage, mailing, and incidentals all cost money, too. Anything remaining is “sent forward” to the districts, areas and General Service Office per Seventh Tradition Guidelines.

Do Soberfest committee members get free stuff (registrations/rooms/whatever)?

My word, no! Each of us pay for our own rooms, our own registrations, and our own tickets to the Funraisers. We’re recovering alcoholics and Al-Anons just like you and consider this Service Work. It’s an honor to serve you and carry the message.

Why did the price increase?

We endeavor to “hold the line” but increased costs are a fact of life. We had to increase the registration cost for 2015, and feel pretty sure that the registration cost will remain the same for the next few years.

Pound for pound, Soberfest is one of the least costly Conferences in our class in the country today.

Why do we have to pay for the Conference?

The Soberfest Conference requires months of planning, preparation and significant expense to produce. There are deposits for the hotel; coffee at the event; travel, room and board for the guest speakers; printing; postage etc. The total cost of this event is paid through your registration fees. We are self-supporting and in the spirit of the Seventh Tradition, we “pay our own way”. Attendance at this event is voluntary, but we couldn’t put on this Conference without your financial support. Thank You for being an important part of Soberfest!

Who was represented in the Archives room?

AA Area, Districts, and our friends.

  • Northern Illinois Area #20
  • NIA District #10
  • NIA District #11
  • NIA District #12
  • Al-Anon
  • Soberfest has our own Archives Committee that was represented.
  • And – people like you lent us some of our most interesting artifacts;
    • The recently published high-resolution copy of the first draft of The Big Book, The Book That Started It All.
    • DVDs of the Bill W. story and the Lois W. story.
Where do you keep all your “stuff” between conferences?

We share a storage rental with Al-Anon and pass the key from Chairperson to Chairperson.

How much coffee do we drink at McHenry’s Soberfest?

During the 28th Annual McHenry’s Soberfest, we drank …

  • 313 gallons of regular coffee
  • 62.5 gallons of decaf coffee
  • 76.5 gallons of hot water (tea and hot chocolate)
Who has spoken at Soberfest over the years?

There have been nearly 200 speakers in total, including speakers from Al-Anon and Alateen. A complete list of speakers can be found here.

What have been McHenry’s Soberfest past themes and colors?

All our themes are selected from the first 164 pages of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. All our past themes and colors can be found here.

How did McHenry’s Soberfest get started?

The whole story can be found in a letter from one of our first Chairman.

Who is McHenry of McHenry’s Soberfest?

Alcoholics Anonymous Central Office advises against naming a meeting or group after an individual, and we didn’t. “McHenry” refers to the county of McHenry, Illinois and is meant to keep us from becoming confused with the many other Soberfests that are held worldwide. See the next question for the whole story.

How many people attended the Banquet?

In 2016, we had 897 guests registered for the banquet.

How many guests attended the most recent McHenry’s Soberfest?

We entertained a total of 2,226 guests at the 25th Annual McHenry’s Soberfest!