Confluence, the region’s largest tech and innovation festival, returns for its third year with new surprises and a new location. Organizers have announced the full roster of events and programs that will explore creativity across art, music, science, and technology. The free festival runs September 22–23 at Rosa Parks Circle, its new home in the heart of Grand Rapids.
Brian Cohen, Executive Director of Confluence, says the team embraces innovation in everything it does. “Confluence is all about innovation so we want to be constantly innovating ourselves. This year we’re introducing significant new elements while at the same time expanding the popular programs we’ve created over the years.”
The festival gets started at 5PM on Friday, September 22 with a Music Summit exploring how innovation is transforming the way music is created and experienced. Open air jams, instrument demos and food trucks will fill Rosa Parks Circle. Ari Herstand, Los Angeles musician and best-selling author, will deliver the keynote address on how aspiring musicians, promoters, agents, and others can make it in the new music business. Live music follows with looping artist Chris Clayton and Kalamazoo-based Americana rocker Grace Theisen taking over the main stage.
- Esports returns to Confluence in a big way with more competitors and more playing areas. The festival will host a Super Smash Bros. tournament with top collegiate and high school teams from across the Midwest. University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University, Ferris State University, and many more will compete for bragging rights and custom trophies designed by Kendall College of Art and Design. You can even test your own gaming skills by battling friends and foes in a free-play area located just off the main stage.
- The Future Innovators Zone is a kid-friendly area of the festival filled with high-tech robotics, drones, rockets, and STEAM activities of all kinds. This year will include a new section on aviation that will explore the design and engineering of flight.
- The Robotics Expo & Parade features top middle and high school teams from across the region. Students will show off their amazing creations throughout the day then come together for a robot street parade that will wind across the entire festival. The expo also includes an arts & crafts area that gives visitors a chance to decorate a robot wrap and see their creations come to life on a real robot.
- The Maker Expo showcases a diverse range of artists, crafters, and engineers who create amazing things in the spirit of DIY. This year will include booths from Ferris State University, Kendall College of Art and Design, Grand River Makerspace, Amped Virtual Reality, and more.
- Art@ features the work of experimental media artist Brian Alexander. Over 30 of his works will be on display including installations, devices and hybrid media shorts.
- Finally, the Music Showcase closes the festival with more unforgettable sets from national and regional touring bands. Detroit’s Au Gres bring their unique take on synth pop to the main stage at 7:30PM and Missouri-based Fox Royale performs the headlining set at 8:45PM. Expect jangly, indie-rock that sparkles with energy.
With so many amazing activities, it’s not surprising this festival has become a must-attend event. If you have a curious mind and you’re in Grand Rapids the weekend of September 22, this is where you need to be.
Full details of everything planned for this year’s festival can be found at www.confluencefest.com.