The Eleventh International Mars Society Convention is scheduled for August 14-17 in Boulder, Colorado. The first time I took my wife to a space event was the NSS ISDC in Denver. She found Robert Zubrin's talk to be a bit too intensely concentrated on 1 goal. I guess that's not a unique characteristic in the space field by any means. However, as we still do when going to a space event, we spent as much or more time as tourists or visitors, and on that trip we decided we liked visiting Boulder. There's certainly a lot of fun things to do there for space fans (LASP, NSIDC, UCAR, DigitalGlobe, Ball Aerospace, even an astronaut park on the bike trail) and there's plenty for everyone else, too. So, head to Boulder for the conference, and bring some guests.
One of the talks planned is "Oregon State University Robotics Club - Overview From 2008 University Rover Challenge Champions". Another has to do with the Mars Project Challenge. The 10 finalists have been selected for this decision-making process for the Mars Society's next big project that will take it to the next level. Mars Society members can vote on the project, and the winner (which will not necessarily be the one with the most votes, but I'm sure the leadership will take the votes into account) will be announced, presumably after the finalists make their 15 minute pitches, at the Convention. One finalist that sounds like a prize competition is "Mars Sample Return Prototypes Competition".