I think you'll want to look at setting the itemCreationPolicy to immediate.
Check out "Custom Creation and Destruction Policies" section of this spec for more details:
I tried that, but two issues:
1) It didn't work. Not completely, anyway. While it created the Panel immediately (which is where I added the itemCreationPolicy="immediate"), it did not create the one child component of that panel. It is still a null reference when I try to look at that child object. And if I try to set itemCreationPolicy on that object, I get an error saying I can't do that on the child object because I don't have includeIn or excludeFrom attributes set. Besides, I don't have to have to set itemCreationPolicy on every component that's visible in that state--there are dozens of them.
2) Even if this worked, I don't think it would solve my problem--I want to programtically, in response to user interaction, say "ok, create the components for this event." Even if itemCreationPolicy was working, it sounds like it only allows me to force creation at the time the app loads.