Since 2006, San Francisco Bay Area maker movement aficionados have been making an annual pilgrimage to the San Mateo Event Center (the county fair grounds), to attend the Maker Faire. Self-described as "part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new," the Faire attracts a broad swath of attendees, not just in the Bay Area, but in other Maker Faires that are popping up around the world.
Last year 165,000 people attended the flagship events in the Bay Area and New York. There were also Maker Faires in Minneapolis, Detroit, and other cities around the world, according to the Faire's sponsor Maker Media (which also publishes Make magazine) .
What strikes me about the event is the mixture of high-tech, low-tech, and products that are a combination of both. You'll find robots and 3D printers, but also doily making, arts and crafts, and decidedly 20th century tools with 21st century twist, like an engraving machine that's controlled by a smartphone.
I've been to several Maker Faires and have always been impressed with the passion of the maker attendees, whether they're showing off an experimental new piece of tech hardware or beautiful things you can do with a needle and thread.
To find out more about the Maker Faire, I sat down with Maker Media Founder and CEO Dale Dougherty, who said that the Maker Faire is "kind of reinventing the fair." He said he "wanted to take many of the good sides of it, but instead of pigs and pies, we have rockets and robots." He added that the Faire is a chance for makers to "share with their friends and family and the whole community."
"We are creators and producers and makers of things," said Dougherty. "We don't just buy stuff. We have this desire and ability to create things."
For more, click below to listen to the 5 minute interview:
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