I Enjoy the Regional Conferences
I have to say that the Lone Star Rubyconf was just great. I'm hoping that's representative of the other regional Ruby conferences as well and from what I've heard it is.
I was at the official Rubyconf last year and I'm comfortable saying that the Lone Star Rubyconf competed well on content. We had great keynotes from Charles Nutter and Zed Shaw (though he's wrong about that don't love your language point); we had presentations from icons of the community, like Hal Fulton; we had popular topics covered by the experts, like the RSpec presentation from Mr. RSpec, David Chelimsky; and we had the wonderfully practical technical talks, like Evan Short's smooth coverage of Domain Specific Languages.
While you do have to consider it a small minus to miss seeing Matz and a few other key Rubyists, the conference countered with a terrific small community feel. Everyone was open and friendly. You could easily approach anyone and chat them up about nearly any topic. Several people approached me and I loved it.
Oh, and you can say "y'all" in an LSRC talk without getting funny looks. You can't beat that.
So, if you're like me and can't make the official conference this year, consider attending a regional conference instead. I had a very positive experience and I look forward to next year's offering.