This weekend Omaha, Nebraska will be flooded with people for what is locally known as “Berkshire Weekend,” when Warren Buffett hosts his Berkshire Hathaway shareholders at the company’s headquarters.
Since Buffett is “The Oracle of Omaha” this party is a blowout — We’re talking country fair, smorgasbord, extravaganza with a value investing twist. To attend, you must be a Berkshire shareholder (or a journalist). They come in droves, filling the massive CenturyLink centre Arena to hear Buffett’s wisdom, suck on Dilly bars, play bridge, and eat steak.
Business Insider reached out to some people who have attended the meeting in years past to get an idea of what it’s like, and more importantly, to get a sense of who makes the pilgrimage out to this mid-western Mecca.
A 2011 Shareholder Meeting attendee broke it down for us. He said there are three kinds of people that go to Warren Buffett’s Americana extravaganza, we dug up a fourth.
- Your decades long/local shareholders: These are people that have invested in Berkshire for generations. Some are locals, others are from all over the world but consider Berkshire and Buffett a part of their family. This conference too is a part of tradition. They’ll bring their kids, they’ll clap along to live music, they’ll smile and talk to everyone, they dress like they’re at a picnic.
- Your Wall Street finance guys and the journalists that love them: Perhaps they run a family office and are attending for a set of super rich too busy for Omaha. Maybe they’re institutional or value investors. Either way, these people are going to church. They are wearing suits, they are asking deep financial (theological) questions about things Berkshire and Buffett did perhaps decades ago, and their phones are constantly buzzing with communication back and forth between Omaha and the mothership back in NYC or London. According to Business Insider’s source, some of these people learn to embrace the love and become quasi-finance guy civilians, some just don’t.
- Your gawkers: These people are along for the ride. Most likely they have friends that have been shareholders for a long time and want to share the experience. You’ll find them clutching their visitor’s guides, walking around rubber necking, and drinking… a lot. Our source was one of these people, and he had a blast.
- Your investing nerds: These folks tend to be on the younger side, and many aspire to be portfolio managers themselves. They’re often currently students (often from abroad) and they’ve read every single Warren Buffett annual letter, probably multiple times. They ask questions about capital structure theory, and whether Warren Bufett would ever consider a pair trade (long one stock, while shorting another). They’re probably the last people you want to party with while there.
You can check out the list of activities here, but the event goes far beyond what’s on this document. Attendees and locals often use the Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meeting as an opportunity to throw events all over town — book signings, cocktails parties etc.