SPARKcon's "creative potluck" is navigable by its 14 themed blocks of programming, each run by volunteer organizers. Here's one must-see event from each "spark."
artSPARK: PARTicipate (CAM Raleigh, Sept. 11)—Stacey L. Kirby transforms CAM's Media Lab into the "Bureau of Personal Belonging," an interactive performance where visitors engage in a dialogue about identity and voice with the artist. On your way, walk down Fayetteville Street to see three city blocks of sidewalk chalk art.
bazaarSPARK (Fayetteville Street, Sept. 13–14)—The 100 block of downtown's main thoroughfare comes alive with 45 local art, food and fashion vendors from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Retail ranges from monster cookies and homemade quilts to beeswax candles and hand-hammered jewelry. And of course, Raleigh-themed T-shirts will be available in abundance.
circusSPARK: Parkour Coaching (Fayetteville and Martin Streets, Sept. 13)—Born from military obstacle training, parkour is the activity where people run on, climb up and vault off objects in urban environments. At noon, Enso Movement provides a two-hour parkour lesson for those who want to turn walls into starting rather than stopping points. A stunt show follows at 6 p.m.
comedySPARK: Clean Standup Comedy (R-Line, Sept. 13)—If the R-Line seems a little rowdier than usual, never fear: That's SPARKcon's Clean Standup Comedy, which runs from 4 to 6 p.m. on the free downtown circulator. This show features a cast of Goodnights Comedy Club regulars, including Mello Mike.
danceSPARK: Zumbathon (City Plaza, Sept. 12)—Led by 10 instructors on one stage, this hour-long "fitness party" is for athletes of all sizes and ages. No experience is required to enjoy the global music and glow sticks.
designSPARK: Urban Issues Oakwood Walking Tour (Center for Architecture and Design, Sept. 13)—The historic Oakwood neighborhood made national headlines this summer as a half-finished modern house ignited a legal battle between neighbors. Take a walk with the Triangle chapter of the American Institute of Architects to learn about issues in historic neighborhoods, including design regulations and building permits directly related to the Oakwood debacle.
fashionSPARK: Wear What You Are (City Plaza, Sept. 13)—Now in its 10th year, Wear What You Are is the Triangle's largest annual fashion show, showcasing the area's up-and-coming jewelry, clothing and accessory designers. Alumni include Raleigh Workshop and Holly Aiken; this year's featured designers are Lumina Clothing and Hazel Cole. The show runs from 8 to 9 p.m., followed by an after-party at Zinda.
filmSPARK: 48 Hour Challenge (City Plaza, Sept. 13)—Taking a cue from the international 48 Hour Film Project (whose closest outpost is in Greensboro), filmSPARK introduces its own 48 Hour Challenge. Teams have two days—the weekend of SPARKcon—to complete a short film from start to finish. Their efforts will be screened on the main stage of City Plaza from 7 to 9 p.m.
geekSPARK: 3D Printer Rodeo (Red Hat Annex, Sept. 13–14)—Like video phones and civilian space travel, 3D printers used to be the stuff of science fiction. Now you can buy one for less than a used car (and then print new wheels yourself). Join 3D printer enthusiasts to learn about the technology, ask questions and see live demonstrations of different models.
ideaSPARK: PechaKucha Vol. 18 (CAM Raleigh, Sept. 11)—The PechaKucha presentation format, which originated in Tokyo in 2003, restricts speakers to presenting 20 images in 20 seconds, creating rapid-fire talks of approximately six and a half minutes. Nine speakers have joined up to present "creative spins" on topics such as love, calculus, movies and parks. A Q&A follows the show.
musicSPARK: SKAturday (The Pour House Music Hall, Sept. 13)—Roughly described as a melding of Jamaican calypso and American R&B, ska relies on heavy bass lines and peppy horns to create its unique, upbeat sound. Six N.C. groups perform a mix of ska, Two Tone and punk from 7 p.m. until the bar closes. The Archbishops of Blount Street, a 10-person outfit featuring members of the original N.C. ska scene, headline.
poetrySPARK: So & So Poetry Series (CAM Raleigh, Sept. 11)—North Carolina natives Ricky Garni (a former INDY Poetry Contest winner) and Ted Pope are joined by digital-poetry enthusiast Stephanie Strickland and Juniper Prize-winner Lew Klatt for this reading.
tastySPARK: Food Truck Rodeo (13 E. Martin St., Sept. 12–14)—Grab some afternoon grub at this food truck mini-rodeo featuring pizza from Pie Pushers and South American fare from Kocina, a vegetarian-friendly, family-run truck. Have one last lick of summer in the form of a colorful Pelican SnoBall.
theatreSPARK: The Nickel Shakespeare Girls (Downtown Raleigh, Sept. 11–14)—Based in Raleigh, the Nickel Shakespeare Girls are an all-female troupe who promise to perform 30-second scenes from any Shakespeare play on command. Along with six other companies, the Girls are part of SPARKcon's downtown theater pop-ups, which run the whole weekend. Like Pokémon, catch 'em if you can.