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Where are all the makers?

As the opening bell for Maker Faire Austin nears, at least half the exhibitors haven't shown up yet.

AUSTIN, TEXAS--I'm in the Texas capital for the first Maker Faire to be held here, and the gates will open to the public in 16 hours.

Yet, even at this late date, after nearly two full days of setup, less than half of the exhibitors, or "makers," have shown up yet.

Less than half the exhibitors at Maker Faire Austin had shown up, with just 16 hours to go before the event opens to the public Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Daniel Terdiman/CNET Networks

Which means that as you walk around the spacious grounds of Austin's Travis County Fairgrounds, it feels empty. Sure, there are dozens of makers already on hand, some of whom have put up some truly wonderful stuff.

But everywhere you look, there's space that, in theory at least, will be occupied by someone making cool felt toys, displaying fire art or showcasing the great things you can do with recycled materials.

In fairness, I have to think back to the first Maker Faire, which was held in San Meteo, Calif., in May 2006. The energy for that one was certainly kind of casual at the beginning, even if by the end, tens upon tens of thousands of people had visited and had a great time. This May, by contrast, the second Maker Faire in San Mateo felt much more urgent, and I suspect things were set up much earlier.

Still, to walk around the fairgrounds here in Austin this evening, with so much empty space, and at least 150 additional makers still to even arrive on the grounds, let alone be finished with their setup, is a little odd.

I think what is likely is that many of them will come streaming in until around 9 p.m. this evening--when I've heard the gates close--and another bunch will show up early tomorrow morning.

And somehow, despite what it feels like now, I am willing to say that come tomorrow at 10 when the gates open, the place will be packed and ready for the throngs that are no doubt going to come.

But I guess we'll see.