PEORIA — Between smashing robots and splattering paint, the fifth annual Ignite Peoria festival brought out everyone’s creative side Saturday.
“The goal is to connect the public with all of the different artists, arts organizations and makers that we have,” said Jenn Gordon, executive director of ArtsPartners of Central Illinois. “So hopefully, people can come in and find out about a new organization, a new venue, a new artist that they didn’t previously know about and be inspired to try something new.”
The ArtsPartners worked with the River City Labs to create this hands-on event focused on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) learning in the Peoria Civic Center.
Paired with musical and theatrical performances, the visual artists, robotics clubs, dancers, computer programmers and jewelry makers together under one roof act as a sort of gateway to the Peoria area arts and makers communities, Gordon said.
The free festival showcased artists’ work and made some prints, furniture, clothing and jewelry available to purchase as well.
In the last weekend before school starts, Ignite Peoria invited kids of all ages to see the arts and sciences in action and interact with them. From coding to weaving to Star Wars costuming, curious hands found new ways to be excited about learning all day.
The roving Chewbacca, Abbey Road reenactment and steaming Ghostbusters van sprinkled in photo opportunities throughout the arena and garnered attention from kids and adults alike.
Free workshops also added to the educational experience, with short classes on clogging, singing, musical theater, dancing and writing.
In its fifth year, Ignite Peoria is keeping up the area’s growing maker community and held the largest “bot brawl” in the region with the Central Illinois Robotics Club, featuring 3-pound battling robots as part of the Midwest Makersfest, Gordon said.
This event merged art and science to spark creativity and inspire people to create, whether that’s with paint on canvas or crossing wires.
“People who are building robots do a lot of math, a lot of engineering, but then there’s this finished product that they have at the end of the day and it’s a piece of art,” Gordon said. “That’s what’s great about the makers component being right in the midst of all the arts.”
Kelsey Watznauer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @kwatznauer.