What is a Maker Faire?

A Maker Faire is a place for Makers (or tinkerers) of all ages to view Maker exhibits, discover new technologies, get new ideas and to make something.  Projects combine science and technology, arts, craft, creative reuse, engineering, food, health, music, and performance. Maker Fairs are organized by local organizations and affiliated with Make Magazine.

Fire Breathing Dragon Maker Faire
Fire Breathing Dragon Maker Faire

Attending a Maker Faire is like attending “the Greatest Show and Tell on Earth”.  You could walk past a fire-breathing dragon and then step into a circus tent and start making wonderful music with paint. Then perhaps don a cute lab coat and use a robot to fill cups with water before moving on to try using a 3D printer for the first time.

Then find the exhibit hall and learn how to make a World Record making paper airplane, or build the World’s Fastest Electric Motorcycle. After that then pass by someone making sweet smelling pancakes in the shape of the Golden Gate Bridge with the help of robot,  and then, after all that, grab a disposable lab jacket and settle in to make a textile toy project of your own.

Where can I go to a Maker Faire?

Maker Faires come in many shapes and sizes. The Bay Area Maker Faire in San

Boy Using a Robot Arm at the Maker Faire
Boy Using a Robot Arm at the Maker Faire

Mateo, California drew a huge crowd of over 120,000 participants in 2016.  The 2017 San Francisco Bay Area Maker Faire is set to start on May 19th.  Originally, Maker Faires provided an opportunity for makers to show off their project and share ideas with other makers. Today, Maker Fairs provide so much more, including the following:

  • Companies bring product prototypes to get feedback from consumers.
  • Gardeners demonstrate how to create a tabletop succulent garden
  • Makers can talk to suppliers, learn what new products are available and purchase Maker supplies
  • Participants can wear lab coats and make something at any number of maker stations, staffed by volunteers. All of the supplies are provided.
  • Artists display their creations. Imagine the art from Burning Man being transported to the Silicon Valley!

Visit Makerfarie.com for more information about upcoming Maker Faires.

Tips for Attending a Maker Faire?

Boy Sewing at the Maker Faire in San Mateo
Boy Sewing at the Maker Faire in San Mateo

Some tips for making the Maker Faire a great experience for everyone.

  • Who should attend a Maker Faire?  There is something for everyone. Yes, there is a lot of technology, but bakers, gardeners, seamstresses, and beekeepers are makers too.
  • Check the schedule in advance. If there is a speaker you would like to listen to, schedule your day accordingly. Keep in mind that if you want a seat, you should arrive early. That may mean listening to the presentation before the one you are interested in attending just to get a chair.
  • If you are attending with children and the adults in the group want to visit lots of vendors, consider visiting over two days; one with the kids and one day without the kids. That way you can give them your full attention as they explore the maker projects.
  • If you are going to a large faire, like the Bay Area Maker Faire, there are plenty of food vendors to choose from. There are also long lines. Consider bringing snacks.
  • If it is hot, bring water. If it is cold, dress accordingly. Many venues are not heated, or they are held outside. Many venues are not heated, or they are held outside. If you plan on trying the hands on exhibits, you might consider bringing a disposable lab coat to keep clothing clean and dry.
  • When attending the San Mateo Maker Faire plan your transportation carefully. The only way to drive and park is to park at one of the remote lots and take the shuttle to the event. It is busiest when gates open, so consider coming later in the day. Cal Train is only a short walk away from the fairgrounds, but will also be very busy.

Maker Faires 2017 Event Dates

USA Maker Faires

2015 Maker Faire Girl Working on Project
2015 Maker Faire Girl Working on Project

Flagship Maker Faires – Faires produced by the Maker Media Team

April 22 + 23, 2017 – Chicago, IL Chicago, Illinois

May 19 + 21, 2017 – Maker Faire Bay Area San Mateo, California

September 22 + 24, 2017 – World Maker Faire New York Queens, New York

Featured Maker Faires – Large Scale Regional Events

April 8 + 9, 2017 Maker Faire Miami Miami, Florida

May 13 + 14, 2017 Maker Faire Austin Austin, Texas

June 24 + 25, 2017 Maker Faire Kansas City eKanas City, Missouri

July 29 + 30, Maker Faire Detroit Dearborn, Michigan

September 17 +18, 2017 Maker Faire Seattle Seattle, Washington

September 23 + 24, 2017 Maker Faire Milwaukee Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Mini Maker Faires – Community Events

April 28 + 29 + 30, 2017 Meridian Mini Maker Faire Meridian, Mississippi

June 3, 2017 Minneapolis/St. Paul Mini Maker Faire Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota

June 17 + 18, North County Mini Maker Faire Vista, California

July 22 + 23, 2017 Wichita Mini Maker Faire Wichita, Kansas

August 26 and 27 2017  Albuquerque Mini Maker Faire at the Balloon Museum. Albuquerque, New Mexico

August 5 + 6, 2017 Dayton Mini Maker Faire Dayton, Ohio

August 19 + 20, 2017 Grand Rapids Mini Maker Faire Grand Rapids, Michigan

September 16 + 17, 2017 Portland Mini Maker Faire Portland, Oregon

September 23 + 24, 2017 Louisville Mini Maker Faire Louisville, Kentucky

October 21 + 22, 2017 NoCo Mini Maker Faire Loveland, Colorado