The 'What if...?' festival's success no longer a question
What: A festival of innovation and imagination
Who: The Imagination Celebration, the Pikes Peak Library District and hundreds of exhibitors and entertainers
When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday
Where: A six block grid in downtown Colorado Springs anchored by the Pikes Peak Center and its grounds at 190 S. Cascade Ave.
Admission and exhibits: Free, but bring cash to purchase food and festival items; whatif-festival.org
Parking: There are limited free spots in the Antler's garage (just identify yourself as a "What if...?" participant). All day parking for a dollar is available at parking lots on the corner of Nevada and Colorado and Vermijo and Sawatch. Otherwise, it's just regular Saturday downtown catch as catch can.
Something Else: As part of "What if...?," the Colorado Springs Philharmonic's season opening performance - "The Pines of Rome" - will be projected live on a giant 25-foot screen on the front lawn of the Pikes Peak Center at 8 p.m. Plan to arrive early to claim your spot on the lawn. Bring your lawn chairs, blankets, sweaters and jackets.
The first year drew 15,000 people. The second 18,000. This year, 20,000 seekers of knowledge and entertainment are expected to wander the six-block festival of learning and exploration that the Imagination Celebration calls "What if ...?"
It takes over downtown on Saturday.
"This all stemmed out of 'Family Festival Days' at the Pikes Peak Center," said Sean Anglum, director of public relations and programs for the children's center for creativity. "We realized we could deal with more people and so we grew it into 'Metamorphosis.' Then we got inspired by a similar program at the Rochester Institute of Technology. And since this happens at the same time as the Library's All Pikes Peak Reads (program), we found a great partner, and it all fell together."
While always pointed to the question "what if," this is really the "Festival of Innovation and Imagination," and provides a showcase to some of the truly creative individuals, organizations and corporations in our region. Expect upwards of 102 interactive experiences and six performance stages, including the Pikes Peak Center's main hall, the Stargazers Theatre and Event Center's Showmobile stage and a KRCC stage on the grounds of the Pioneers Museum. These venues alone offer a 40 hours of entertainment.
"We didn't turn anyone who wanteed to exhibit down," said Anglum. "This meant that we had to work with some people and tweak their ideas or execution. But we got everyone in."
The talent includes entrepreneurs, artists, dancers, musicians, art organizations, businesses and corporations. There is no other confluence in the region that can boast of such an inclusive roster. Anglum feels that every booth and exhibit will be worthwhile. Even still, he noted some prime participants who have some exceptionally mind-bending realities to offer: Corporations Cochlear (CQ), Lockheed Martin (CQ), Devium Dash (CQ) and non-profits Colorado Water 2012 (CQ) and Colorado State University Extension - 4H (CQ).
"We've always been known as an organization that catered to children, but this event is truly for all ages," said Anglum. "It's also a true community builder. It's an all-volunteer event."
While the day is undoubtedly about fun, Anglum insists it's "stealth learning cloaked in magic and the imagination." As always, there's no admission fee and everything's free. Some cash would be a good idea this year.
For the first time, "What if...?" will have food on site - and from some of the best restaurants and caterers in the region. There's also the "Bizarre Bazaar" tent, which proffers festival items like T-shirts, posters and the chance to buy and decorate your own pair of "What if...?" sunglasses.
So "What if" you do go? Will it be too crowded to get a fair chance to explore the multitude of exhibits? Not to worry, assures Anglum. "We set it up so that every booth gets a fair shake. All have their own breathing space. We've really got this down."