Esports, robots & music highlight festival

    Photo courtesy of Confluence Festival

    Confluence Festival, an outdoor event focussing on innovation, is slated for Friday and Saturday, Sept. 23 and 24 at Studio Park, 120 Ottawa Ave. SW, and the surrounding area in downtown Grand Rapids. 

    “It’s a festival dedicated to the innovation coming out of West Michigan and how that innovation moves the world forward,” said Confluence Festival Director Brian Cohen, whose background is in producing large scale musical events. 

    Confluence Festival, now in its second year, is Cohen’s first foray into producing a large event in Grand Rapids, but what exactly is it? 

    Confluence is defined as a “flowing together” and is traditionally used in reference to the meeting of two rivers of equal size. Similarly, the Confluence Festival celebrates the merging together of two types of innovation of equal importance.  

    The innovation highlighted at the Confluence Festival focuses on four areas: art, music, science and technology.

    “For example in music, we look at artists who have one foot in music and one in these other pillars,” said Cohen. “That sort of confluence is what we are putting in front of the public and having people explore.

    “I’m coming from the large scale music space, with bands all over the place. If you wanted to experience them all it made you manage your time. I love that energy and sense of urgency. We have all this terrific stuff happening at the same time.”

    Confluence Festival Director Brian Cohen

    The music takes place at the Listening Room inside Studio Park and the rest of the festival is outdoors. 

    “The Studio Park piazza will be ground zero,” said Cohen, adding that everything happens concurrently, by design.

    New to Confluence Festival 2022 is an E-Sports tournament. 

    “Our Esports tournament, and gaming is a big thing and becoming more popular. In between matches we will invite the public up to participate and use the chairs and experience what it’s like to be a professional gamer on a pro stage with casters announcing their game”

    Herman Miller is the presenting sponsor of the innovating showcase. Another aspect of the blending of innovation are furnishings that Herman Miller creates for competitive gamers. 

    “It’s about increasing your competitiveness, keeping you alert and less fatigue, not just about posture and potential back problems,” Cohen said. 

    There’s also a Robotics Expo at the Confluence Festival. Area high school and middle school robotics teams are involved and people who attend the festival will be able to see all the things that go into operating a robot, culminating with a Robotics Street parade. 

    A veritable hodgepodge of events and concepts will converge together simultaneously.

    “It’s interesting to create that dynamic and have the audience experience things they might not have been interested in before,” Cohen said.  

    “We are not just iner-lapping areas of innovation, we’re inter-lapping audiences and it helps people discover things that they might not have been interested in previously.

    “We want people to be entertained, have fun and enjoy themselves. There’s plenty of ways to plug in. If you have a curious mind and you’re in Grand Rapids, the last week of September, the confluence is where you want to be.”

    Confluence Festival is a free event. Find out more by visiting the website


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