It’s tradition: the second weekend in June is officially MIC weekend, with the Minnesota Inventors Congress Invention and Idea Show, the city’s big summer parade, the Rotary Club fly-in breakfast all taking place within a few days of each other.
This year, things will be different. The Minnesota Inventors Congress is dividing its two main activities to separate times and locations.
The annual Idea and Invention Show, where inventors can display their latest products to the public, will be held in its usual place – the Redwood Area Community Center – but two months earlier.
Instead of mid-June, the Idea and Invention Show will be held April 19-20 this year.
“More schools and businesses can participate now because of the earlier date, and we’re able to have more space in the RACC,” said MIC Executive Director Deb Hess, “and each inventor will have more opportunities to meet with other legal and engineering experts.”
“We can also bring in bus loads of high school and elementary school students for field trips,” said Clara Friese, adding the MIC would definitely like advance warning.
“If 18 buses all show up at the same time, it would be more than we could handle,” she laughed. “Kids under 16 get in free, so the only expense for schools would be the transportation.”
According to Hess and Friese, moving the Idea and Invention Show two months earlier has many advantages for the Congress.
“It gives us an opportunity to reach a market we’ve not been able to before: colleges and university students,” said Hess.
Because the show will now happen while school is in session, one university plans to bring in engineering students to study the renewable energy program.
Also because of the date change, the William Mitchell College of Law is able to sponsor a free intellectual property law clinic for prospective inventors.
“When I told the dean of the school we had changed the dates, he got really excited,” said Hess. “He said some of their property law students can come out and meet with the inventors, and get college credit for it.”
With school still going on, and school robotics teams getting more popular around the nation, Hess expects to expand the annual MIC robotics competition this year.
How have the inventors themselves responded to the date change?
“The feedback from them has been phenomenal,” said Hess. “They love it because it doesn’t conflict with weddings, graduations, and vacations.”
This year, Daktronics will sponsor a twice-daily stage show: “Pixel Power: More Than a Trillion!”
Page 2 of 2 - Using locally manufactured signs, electronics engineer Chad Johnson will demonstrate how Daktronics signs can create the equivalent of trillions of colors using just the three primaries – red, yellow, and blue – as building blocks.
The less visible part of the MIC’s activities – less visible to the general public, at least – is the annual inventors workshops which have always taken part off at the edges of the Idea and Invention Show.
Instead, it’s gotten a big promotion.
“The U.S. Patent and Trademark office called and asked us if we’d be interesting in co-hosting the workshops with the University of St. Thomas,” said Hess. The workshops will be held later in the spring.
Separating the events also gives the MIC organizers more flexibility to make use of the RACC space during the Idea and Invention Show.
The MIC organizers also hope to have more activities going on around the Idea and Invention Show, such as local artists and craftspeople bringing their wares and demonstrating what they do.
Hess and Friese emphasized the MIC hasn’t been directly related to the annual community parade for years, and has no control over how other events for the traditional “MIC weekend” in June.
How about the other activities normally held on what’s informally called “MIC weekend”?
According to Jan Madson, president of the Redwood Falls Rotary Club, the Fly-in breakfast will be held on its usual time, the second weekend in June.
She said in the past many attendees at the Fly-in breakfast were part of the MIC festivities, but in recent years the event has been attended by far more townspeople, so there’s not really any reason to change the date.