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Redwood Falls Gazette
  • New date, attractions bring different audience to MIC

  • So how did the 56th annual Minnesota Inventors Congress Invention and Idea Show go?;
    “You mean, except for Friday?” laughed Deb Hess, Director of Inventor Services.
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  • So how did the 56th annual Minnesota Inventors Congress Invention and Idea Show go?
    "You mean, except for Friday?" laughed Deb Hess, Director of Inventor Services.
    Yes, there was that awkward blizzard that hit the state just as many of the inventors were heading to the Redwood Area Community Center.
    "Thursday night we couldn't help but be concerned, but we had to keep moving forward," said Hess.
    "On Friday, it was obvious the weather was affecting our attendance. On Friday morning, you could have shot a cannonball down the main aisle without hitting anyone.
    "However, there were no no-shows from the inventors. Every inventor and consultant was there. The intellectual property law clinic was the only vendor not able to be there."
    "Several schools that had planned to be there Friday cancelled because they had no school that day, but the kids made up for it on Saturday. A lot of them came on their own with their families," said Hess.
    On the other hand, "three schools called the week of the show to ask if they could bring busses. We weren't expecting that. We were told with schools you have to schedule everything a year in advance, but I guess that isn't always the case."
    Raymond Walz, a member of the MIC board, said, :On the other hand, when the schoolkids showed up, they showed up excited to be there.
    "On Friday, we had between 50 and 100 kids at the Invention Creation Station. The buzz at the tables was fun, seeing them getting all excited about inventing."
    "In the 35 years I've been involved with MIC, it's constantly been changing and evolving, but it's survived in part because of the cadre of people involved, with their talents and contributions," said Walz.
    "Partly, that's the result of the (small-town) culture of the event. If you moved the show to a different (town), it wouldn't survive. People constantly compliment us about how friendly the Redwood community is," said Walz.
    That friendliness extended over to the inventors themselves, who potentially could have chosen to see each other as competitors.
    "One inventor from the Philippines was stranded in the Twin Cities because he didn't have a credit card for a rental car," said Hess.
    When word got out, the friend of another inventor volunteered to drive to the Twin Cities to pick him up.
    Hess said one of her favorite moments from this year's show was at the inventors banquet, when Douglas Reuter won the grand prize for his invention, the QB8 game.
    "I knew Doug was going to win, so I watched him during the banquet when the names were being announced," she said.
    "Doug was texting his wife to let her know he had won a gold award, and wasn't even paying attention when his name was announced," said Hess. "I wish I had a camera so I could have gotten an expression on his face when he realized they had said his name."
    Page 2 of 2 - How about moving the date up two months?
    "I don't know what the board is going to choose to do next year," said Walz. "It would help if anyone could tell me what the weather is going to be like next April. It was a grand experiment."
    Hess said, "There are always things that go wrong because humans are involved, but other than the weather, this year's show went very smoothly.
    "The show succeeded at it's goal of giving inventors the experience of being at a trade show, and pitching their product to people in the real world.
    "From the feedback we got from the inventors, it was wonderful. More than one inventor said he wished he could experience the show as an inventor, then come back and do it again as a spectator."

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