Joseph Poch, a Colorado Springs native, grew up celebrating his Celtic heritage at festivals all over the country. Eventually, he started helping to organize them and now owns a full-service event planning business.
Most of the 24-year-old’s business takes him away from Colorado Springs. So, when the city made a request for proposals for a big event, Poch knew exactly what to offer. He expects his first Pikes Peak Celtic Festival, June 28-30 in Memorial Park, to draw 10,000 visitors.
Tell us about your business, Innovative Moments.
Innovative Moments is a production and event services company. We provide services such as dynamic colorful lighting, close proximity and indoor digitally controlled pyrotechnics, live event HD video solutions, original music content and more. We build multi-sensorial productions and branded environments.
How did you come to own an event planning and marketing business at 24?
As a kid growing up, my grandparents owned The Scottish and Irish Regalia Shoppe here in town. I started going to the Highland Games, Irish Festivals, and Celtic events when I was very young and also started to play the pipes with the Pikes Peak Highlanders here and later danced with Celtic Steps for 15 years. So, my background growing up had close connections within the Celtic community.
I got into events through writing and orchestrating music for large international military productions, known as “military tattoos.” These tattoos are traditionally a combination of hundreds of bagpipes and military brass and reed bands along with other performing units.
It was because of my music background with the pipes that I was able to get into writing for these large productions. Then there was a need to digitally connect the music to what was happening with production lighting, video, and pyrotechnics and that was how Innovative Moments was born.
I started doing some projects with John and Carol O’Donnell — who have been prominent special event planners in town since 1985. They took me under their wings and really started to teach me the ins and outs of the community special events business. I had known John and Carol for years so that worked out well. Innovative Moments now handles not just production details, but also logistics and promotional items for community special events throughout the local area and for international events.
Why did you choose to present a Celtic Festival in response to the city’s RFP for community events?
Colorado Springs seemed to me to be searching for an event that would bring in people from out of town. First-year events are difficult enough to get the people in town to show up let alone getting out-of-towners here. The Celtic, Irish, Scottish, Welsh and British communities are prominent everywhere you go. Offering a new location for the community to gather will bring people to Colorado Springs who would not otherwise be here.
In addition, the Pikes Peak Highland Games ended in 1999 and had an attempt in 2004, but the Colorado Springs community has not had a Celtic gathering other than the St. Patrick’s Day downtown celebrations. We have top-quality Irish and Scottish pubs, world champion Celtic Steps Irish Dancers, pipers, Scottish Athletes, dozens of Irish and Celtic bands, and more niche communities that are always traveling out of town to do what they do. It was time that we brought a festival back to our community that would bring people here.
What is planned for the Celtic Festival? What will the scale of the event be in comparison to other events you organize?
The Pikes Peak Celtic Festival is in its infancy as an event and many of the other events have 30 years plus of culture-building years. However, Colorado is a state that has very rich and deep Irish, Scottish, British and Welsh roots and they are all very deeply connected to American heritage. American culture embraces similar characteristics. To the point, I would suspect for the first year that we will have around 10,000 total attendees. Those attendees will enjoy:
- A large festival field
- The Massed Pipe Bands of the Western United States Pipe Band Association
- Sanctioned piping competitions
- Sanctioned Scottish athletic competitions (the caber toss)
- World champion Irish dancers from Celtic Steps
- Highland and Scottish country dancing
- Celtic rock and traditional Music
- Specialty food vendors such as Oz Highland Farm and local pubs serving up their favorites
- Clans and societies
- Guinness beer
- Dozens of different events all day long
What opportunities and challenges do you feel you have in Colorado Springs as a young professional that you might not have other places?
I think there are a lot of opportunities for young professionals here. There are many networking groups and professional groups for young professionals that have some real movers in them, and it’s still small enough that it is easy to connect. I think much of the community here will be very surprised at what young professionals are accomplishing and are going to accomplish in the next one, three and five years.
The challenge — and it’s no secret — is that young professionals are choosing to leave our community and go places where it’s easier to raise funds and get the movement they need to make their business benefit the community. At times, as a city, we have even ushered the young entrepreneurs out. What I see, however, is a market area of around 600,000 people who are ready to do something that is world class, something that when anyone in the world sees it, they will say “Wow.” It will take time for the community as a whole to build up to that, but I believe we have great cultural organizations here taking every step in the right direction of that bigger-than-life vision.