Downtown Raleigh, September 15–18, 2016
Explaining to people what SPARKcon is should be easy by now. But it's not, and that remains both a blessing and a curse for Raleigh's now-ten-year-old "Annual Festival of Creativity." SPARKcon has always embraced a bottom-up structure so that interested parties cultivate half-week programs of, say, comedy or music, fashion or food, literature or acrobatics. We've seen truly terrific things at SPARKcon and, more important, people inspired to set out on new endeavors of their own. Sometimes, though, that very loose structure and broad branding seems to make the momentum wax and wane. In 2016, as in 2006, the event seems both awesome and inchoate, full of potential hits and misses. Potential hits and misses—maybe, after a decade spent searching, that's the best definition for the region's most perpetually promising event.