Borgan Oyvind shows Shadia Omar how to create sound on a mini synthesizer at the Silicon Labs booth at SX Create at the Long Center in 2015. This free SXSW event highlighted new technology and science based activities and will be back this year. At far right is Omar’s cousin Isaac Gonzalez. Credit: Deborah Cannon / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

In Friday’s American-Statesman and on today’s MyStatesman.com, you’ll find my preview of SXSW Interactive, featuring some highlights of stuff you can do without a badge as well as some of the official events and installations you can expect to see downtown next week.

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

But beyond the conference is a festival too, a chaotic, highly entertaining set of parties, street events, tie-in music performances and movie screenings, free street food, crazy marketing stunts 100-feet high and so many bodies, about 33,825 at last year’s edition of SXSW Interactive. So-called “Digital creatives” flock to the fest seeking new friends and new business contacts, as well as inspiration from industry leaders, stars and tech innovators.

You can pay for a badge to the March 11-15 conference — they’re not cheap at this point, at $1,295 walk-up rate ($825 if you bought ahead before last September) — or simply float around the fest, taking in free events like SXSW Gaming, online live streams of some of the programming, and the many piggyback events that happen around the badge-only ones.

Every year we ask how big the festival will grow; it has had continuous year-over-year growth since 2003, when a mere 3,036 attended. You’d figure that growth would plateau at some point, but so far it hasn’t.

Read the rest of the story here.

We’ll be continuing to cover the fest with more previews on Sunday with a business/panel track focus and a big story on SXSW’s 30 years of influence in Austin will be running that day as well in print and online.

You can also check out today’s just-published “Statesman Shots” podcast Episode 100.5 featuring me, Tolly Moseley and Statesman film critic Joe Gross with more highlights and tips for SXSW Interactive and SXSW Film. “Statesman Shots” will be doing daily short videos and audio dispatches from the fest starting March 11. And of course, we’ll be covering the fest here, so keep an eye on this space.

Got ideas or tips for the fest? Leave a comment or drop me an email.