Recently our family attended the Minneapolis/St. Paul Mini Maker Faire at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. This was our family’s fourth time attending this annual event, and we once again really enjoyed ourselves.
What is a Maker Faire?
According to their website, “Maker Faire is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth—a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement. Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and to share what they have learned.”
In the US, the two flagship events that are referred to as “Maker Faires” are in San Francisco and New York. The smaller regional events (like the one we attended) are “Mini Maker Faires.” To learn more about Maker Faire events hosted in the US and around the world, check out their website at makerfaire.com.
While the Mini Maker Faires may be notably smaller than the the Maker Faires, the event we attended was very robust and by no means seemed “mini” as a stand-alone event. At the Minneapolis-St.Paul Mini Maker Faire we saw laser cutters, 3D printers, lutheries, robots, terrariums, artists, jewelers and everything in between. There were also several booths from local businesses of all sizes (like Target, which is headquartered here) and museums offering hands-on crafts and projects.
The Minneapolis-St.Paul Mini Maker Faire also offered numerous opportunities to work with tools. We have done more of those activities in the past, but this year it was pouring rain outside, and many of those tents would have required us getting soaked. In the past our kids have done activities like making race cars out of potatoes and even participated in rock sculpting. They could have spent all day chiseling on that big boulder.
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Highlights from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Mini Maker Faire
Below are some of our highlights from this year’s Minneapolis/St. Paul Mini Maker Faire.
Our son got a beautiful knife to add to his collection made (almost) entirely out of Minnesota materials, hand crafted by a Minnesota artisan (Tera Forge Knives).
Our daughter got a cool PinBox 3000, a customizable pinball machine created entirely from cardboard. (Side note: when we discovered that a piece was missing in her kit, my husband emailed the company. The next day he got the most hilarious customer service message back, and only days later we received from them the missing piece plus additional materials to make another pinball board for our troubles.)
Here were a few more cool things we saw there:
The line is hung from the rafters, with the bowling ball providing the momentum. The release of the paint was controlled by remotes.
I highly recommend Maker Faires (and Mini Maker Faires) as a fun day for families and those without kids. They are fascinating places to see all kinds of makers in their element. Definitely look for Maker Faires in your area. Or pick one out of town as an excuse for a trip!
(Only one word of caution: The event we attended offered food vendors that are typical for the State Fairgrounds to hire. Therefore we had to pay State Fair prices for that food. For a more affordable meal, consider packing a picnic lunch.)