After months of planning the June 21 Imagination Celebration, one event committee member was a little worried while en route to Waunakee High School early that morning.

What if the only folks who showed up were the exhibitors and volunteers, Mary Krinke said she asked herself.

But from the display booths in the High School Commons just after 3 p.m., lines of people could be seen coming through the doors above.

All ages attended to check out Seymour the fish from the Madison Children's Museum, to play instruments, watch flower arranging demonstrations, view student artwork, watch kids create with duct tape, and listen to performances.

Dancers also filled the stage in the small auditorium before the Waunakee Community Band Concert. About 70 different exhibitors showcased their talent and innovation.

At a wrap-up meeting July 25, the event committee members seemed mostly pleased.

"I tried to get around and talk to exhibitors - they loved the scenery," said Diane Anderson, adding that it looked "professional" and "inviting."

Committee members cited logistical details they might have planned differently, but overall, they felt the event was a success.

"There was a real sense of community there," said Ashley Greiber, adding that she heard no griping, just Waunakee residents of all ages and backgrounds interacting with one another.

At the event, exhibitors seemed impressed by the numbers of people. Many said they had run out of brochures. Keith Krinke, who displayed his fishing lures, said he gave 20 to children immediately and had few left.

At the Papa Murphy's food stand, commerce was swift, non-stop, said Mark Venditto, owner.

Many said they had discovered talents of their neighbors and friends, such as Jeff Murphy, who had his stained wood tables and other pieces on display.

At one point, the Yahara River Chorus Quartet meandered around singing four-part harmony a cappella to the exhibitors.

Monday, committee members remarked on the "positive energy" and "neat vibe" at the event, adding that the decision to prohibit sales may have contributed.

"I think the fact that they weren't selling things really changed the dynamics a lot," Mike George said.

No admission was charged, and the exhibitors paid nothing to display and perform.

Todd Schmidt, Waunakee's village administrator and economic development director, said he believed that the event strengthened Waunakee citizens' relationships with one another.

He noted that many relationships are one-dimensional because most people are so involved with their own lives and families.

But after learning more about one another, those one-dimensional relationships become multi-dimensional, he said.

"Our community could be stronger" as a result, Schmidt said. "That's what government should be doing, is building relationships."

Peggy Hill-Breunig, Waunakee school board president, said the school district was "thrilled to be a part of it."

"To open their doors and let people in, to open it up for the community - that helps justify the investment. We've got the spaces. We've got the resources," Hill-Breunig said.

Also at the event, residents took surveys at the Waunakee Community Band Concert, and results from that are forthcoming.

Whether the Imagination Celebration will become an annual event is uncertain. Waunakee's Creative Economy task force will discuss the possibility and make a recommendation to the Economic Development Committee. The committee allocated $16,000 from its budget toward the event with the village board's approval, Schmidt said. Currently, the village board is beginning to budget for 2013, he added.

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