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Ah, there are the makers

Even though half the exhibitors for Maker Faire in Austin still hadn't shown up with just hours to go before the gate opened, everyone was in place by mid-morning.

AUSTIN, Texas--Last night, with just 16 hours to go before the gates to Maker Faire were set to open here, there was a whole lot of empty space where the exhibitors, or "makers," were supposed to be. One crew member told me less than half of the 300-plus makers had signed in yet.

So, I wondered if it was all going to work out as planned.

While the grounds for Austin's Maker Faire looked mostly empty on Friday night, by Saturday morning, the place was full and all the exhibitors seemed to be where they were supposed to be. Daniel Terdiman/CNET Networks

Well, the proof is in the pudding, as the saying goes, and it turns out I should never have worried. By the time I arrived at the Travis County Fairgrounds here this morning, the place was packed with attendees and most, if not all, of the makers appeared to be where they were supposed to be.

As one local told me last night, people here do things on "Texas time," a reference to a more casual approach to things than you might find in, say, New York.

In fact, director Sherry Huss told me this morning that it's worked more or less the same for the two Maker Faires that have been held in San Mateo, Calif., in May 2006 and May 2007.

This was a surprise to me, I admit, because although I attended both of the previous Maker Faires, I wasn't there to see what they were like before the gates open.

Tens of thousands of people showed up for the first-ever Maker Faire to be held in Austin, Texas. The grounds at the Travis County Fairgrounds are big enough to make it hard to tell how many people are here, but in the Maker Store, you can tell how crowded the place is. Daniel Terdiman/CNET Networks

Anyway, the place is packed today. It turns out that while the Bay Area's San Mateo Fairgrounds seemed huge, that space is dwarfed by the fairgrounds here. Huss told me that the San Mateo grounds take up five acres. Here, it's 250 acres. Gulp. That's why, event producer Louise Glasgow told me, this facility can swallow 50,000 people without you really being able to tell.

And while I don't know if there's 50,000 people here, there certainly are a ton.

And, dare I say, I'm impressed.