Makers Faire 2014

Makers Faire? What’s that?

This was the question we heard a few times this past week after MsBoyink and I attended (sans-kids but more about that in a moment) the Detroit Makers Faire.

And it’s a good question. A good question in the way that makes you think for a few moments before answering it, wherein you try to calculate the relative geekiness of the person asking the question and gearing the answer appropriately.

Maker’s Faire is so many things.

It’s Star Wars.

It’s Ghostbusters.

It’s a hamfest.

It’s a steampunk festival.

It’s a tractor show.

It’s a Ray Bradbury county fair with lightning-rod salesmen and evil witches in tents.

It’s a summer programming camp for 8 year olds.

It’s Bronies.

It’s grown people racing Power Wheels Jeeps.

It’s a life-size Mousetrap game.

It’s group-powered bicycles weaving through the crowds.

It’s Burning Man for families.

It’s 3D printers printing 3d printers.

It’s old radio tubes repurposed into robots.

It’s clockworks and scale-model railroads.

It’s Arduinos and GoPros and drones.

It’s a lot more than this list.

We attended the event back in 2012 as a family. This time around the date worked out such that the Makers Faire was being held at the same time that MsBoyink’s parents had a lakefront cottage rented back in Kalamazoo. It was also the date of our 23rd wedding anniversary. If you are a traveling parent you can see where I’m going here…we ditched the kids with grandparents and left for a few days of just. adult. time.

It was one of those days where you get a glimpse of your life as empty-nesters. And it was odd. I know we didn’t “engage” as much as two years ago when we were here with the kids. Part of it was the crowd - it was definitely much more well-attended than the 2012 event. That’s great as we are fans of the Maker movement and appreciate how it’s reviving some skill sets that have seemed close to dying out. But between the long lines, the sun, and not having the kids with us we sort of wandered around in a daze most of the day, looking at exhibits but not jumping in to play the various games and do the activities.

We still saw most of the exhibits, attended a “second-wave internet” lecture that justified the trip as a business expense but didn’t make much sense past that, and connected with a few of the Grand Rapids Makers.

I said to MsBoyink later on in the day that we’ll have to be intentional about finding ways to play when it’s just her and me again. It’s easier to jump in and be playful when the kids are around but without them the dynamic is certainly different.

We stayed in the Detroit area a couple days after the Makers Faire, thinking we’d explore other attractions in the area. Instead we cranked out some paid work, got started on interviews for our Ditching Suburbia book, and just enjoyed a quiet spot in the fairgrounds.

We thought of a certain couple of teens looking at this display

We thought of a certain couple of teens looking at this display

A work in progress

A work in progress

Jack Skellington and a solar powered vintage bus.

Jack Skellington and a solar powered vintage bus.

I don't know.

I don't know.

A completely hand built and operational scale model of a v8 motor.

A completely hand built and operational scale model of a v8 motor.

Loved these. I used to sell those tubes.

Loved these. I used to sell those tubes.

Also loved these.

Also loved these.

Loved the juxtaposition here.

Loved the juxtaposition here.

A special anniversary date.

A special anniversary date.

Yourtown USA

Yourtown USA

2 Comments Makers Faire 2014

  1. Picture of Jenni Jenni August 08, 2014

    I would have been all over the life-sized Mousetrap game. As a kid I was the only one of my friends who ever wanted to play. But hamfest?  Is that like the meat or the CB radio operator?

  2. Picture of Boyink Boyink August 08, 2014

    It’s funny just now thinking about how ham radio operators would sort of pull up their nose at the mention of “CB’s” - yet their formal name is “Amateur Radio Operator”...;)

    Hamfests are flea markets for amateur radio folks to buy/sell/trade their gear - but anything with a transistor was fair game. Picture long rows of tables with stacks of stereos, oscilloscopes, Radio Shack “100-in-1” kits, metal detectors, TV antennas, walkie-talkies, etc.

    It was funny to see a group of kids walking around the Maker Faire with name badges that had blinking LED’s on them - because I remember guys doing that at hamfests over 30 years ago.

Comments are no longer accepted on this article.