The Creative Connection Event - to go or not to go

Have you ever heard of The Creative Connection event in Minnesota?

It was first run in 2010 and is coming up again in 2011. This event is what I was referring to in my hypothetical question last post - I am thinking about attending. 

I would need to spend about $5000 to attend. I have put my name forward to participate in several "pitch slams" which present the opportunity to pitch ideas in front of experts in their area, perhaps as a magazine contributor, craft product designer or something like that. If I don't get lucky and get selected, then I am not sure it would be worth me pending the money to go - I'd be looking at close to $2000 in airfares alone.

However, the chance to put myself and my ideas in front of these fantastic people - it's a chance too good to miss. I guess I am hoping that, combined with my book publication in 2012, I might be an interesting prospect. That, and coming from Australia - obviously I am taking the possibility very seriously and I hope the experts would recognise that too!

When I say experts, I am talking about people like Christen Olivarez (editor of Somerset Studio), Tim Holtz (Ranger), Traci Bautista (whose workshops I would also attend....that girl is all kinds of fun), Ingrid Liss (Demdaco), Kelly Rae Roberts (who I adore no end), Janine Vangool (UPPERCASE - have you SEEN that magazine, it sends me into a cuteness coma) and others.... these are movers and shakers in my industry, people who I know I can learn so much from. 

I guess I just need to just wait and see until August 2, when successful pitchers are announced. I am so not patient! I dearly would love to attend this event and maximise my opportunities, and as I have learned from my book writing experience, I have to get out there and CREATE my opportunities, not wait for them to land on my lap. My fear is that I can't afford to go, but that I cannot afford opportunity-wise NOT to go. Decisions, decisions! I must think with my business brain and not my heart-strings on this!

What would you do?