One Spark set to open on time

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Prepare to be inspired and amazed!

One Spark 2014 returns for its second year beginning Wednesday morning in downtown Jacksonville.

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The festival is the world's largest crowd-funding event with creators and inventors coming to the First Coast from all over the world.

Over the next five days, they will be scattered across 59 different venues that span 20 city blocks. Approximately 150,000 people are expected to attend.


"Last year was our inaugural event, and this year we are back. The growth has been just tremendous," said executive director Joe Sampson.

The way it works is creators pitch their ideas and exhibits to festival-goers who then vote on who they think should be funded through private investment and the crowd-fund.

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This year, renowned businessman Shad Kahn, the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and other investors have pooled together more than $3 million in potential investments.

There's also more than $300,000 guaranteed through crowd-funding efforts. Different dollar amounts from within that total are set aside to be awarded to creators that win the most votes.

Festival-goers also have the opportunity to contribute directly to a creator's vision and project. The idea is that the event will help be the one spark that ignites the next big thing.

In order to vote, festival-goers must register online, at the event or using their One Spark mobile app. Sampson said votes are limited to one per person per exhibit.

"You can vote more than once, but you cannot vote for the same exhibit twice," he said.

Dr. Wayne Wood of Jacksonville is participating as a creator with an exhibit called "Pop Up Opps."

He spent a great deal of time Tuesday in the rain constructing an authentic Native American teepee in Hemming Plaza at the corner of Laura & Monroe.

"The teepee is a wonderful work of art in and of itself. This is a teepee I've had for over 40 years. I've set it up all over northeast Florida, but I've never set it up at Hemming Plaza," he said.

Wood entered One Spark with hopes of being funded to expand the "Pop Up Opps" movement.

His goal is to continue surprising and inspiring people across Jacksonville with large pieces of art that "pop up" out of the blue in randomly selected places.

Last year, Dr. Wood was responsible for a huge yellow rubber duck that floated around the Hemming Plaza fountain during One Spark.

He describes himself as an art enthusiast who believes creativity needs to be promoted and encouraged throughout the city.

"We've seen recently pieces of art taken down. So we want to put up more. We want to have art all across the city everywhere we can so people realize this is a city of culture. It's a city that appreciates its artists," he said.

One Spark itself promises to do just that when it officially begins at 11 a.m.

Rainy weather earlier in the week created some delays in getting the festival's main stage set up on schedule. However, volunteers worked through the night to make up for lost time.

Sampson breathed a heavy sigh of relief when he confirmed to First Coast News the festival will open as planned.

"We'll be ready," he said.

Opening ceremonies are set for 6 p.m. at the stage in Hemming Plaza. The festival runs through Sunday, April 13.


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