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The community meets the makers at mini-faire

on October 25, 2010

A little rain didn’t keep Oaklanders away from the first annual East Bay Mini Maker Faire on Sunday. The fair, which was an indoor and outdoor exhibition of over 100 Bay Area businesses and tech projects, was held at Temescal’s Park Day School.

Maker Faire is an event series hosted by MAKE Magazine, a quarterly, project-based, do-it-yourself magazine. The Maker Faire website describes Maker Media—the umbrella organization for both the fair and the magazine— as a “growing DIY movement of people who look at things a little differently.”

The first Maker Faire was hosted in San Mateo in 2006 and other Mini Maker Faires have popped up in Detroit, Rhode Island and even across the Atlantic in the United Kingdom.

The East Bay’s version of the popular science and craft expo drew people of all ages, who arrived on a rainy Sunday decked out in raincoats, galoshes and umbrellas. Fair organizers said 2,200 advanced tickets for the event were sold. “There’s this phenomena of Mini Maker Faires starting to spread up around the country,” said Sabrina Merlo, an organizer for the event who says she jumped at the idea of bringing Maker Faire to the East Bay. “I said, ‘Yes! Let’s do it.’ I’ve been a fan of Maker Faire and been involved in the world of makers for a long time.”

The fair’s vendor list included clothiers, performing artists, bakers, and arts & crafts sellers (to name a few). The day also featured hands-on activities and demonstrations in things as varied as silk screening, face recognition software and a bicycle that, when pedaled, grinds wheat.

“The Maker Faire has a lot of art stuff and a lot of other craft stuff as well. It’s always good to get exposure,” said Peter Mui, founder of Fixit Clinics, a group who hosts do-it-yourself electronic repair workshops. “Maker Faire is kind of a brand at this point, and a lot of people understand what it’s about. It will build awareness in general in the greater East Bay Area. ”

The dreary weather did not seem to affect attendance at the busy fair, but it did make some folks wet. “It’s fun. Definitely, I think it would be a lot funner if it wasn’t raining,” said 11-year-old attendee Michael Fries, a student at East Bay School for Boys, who said he would come to the event next year. “We did a lot of fun stuff already. We checked out some of the fire places and we went over to the Lego car and we just ground a bunch of flour.”

Event organizers were delighted by the community’s response to the local fair and, at the day’s end, were already looking to next year.

“I’m over the moon,” Merlo said. “I think it’s tremendous. We are definitely going to do it again. Next year it will just be, hopefully, sunny.”

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  1. june on October 26, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    A star of the DIY movement and most important item in Maker Industries is the Arduino Micro Controller Board. Its the brains behind many of the DIY projects touted by Maker Industries, founded by Tim O’Reilly the guy who gave the demonstration on the making of apple cider. No joke.

    The MakeShed Booth had a large box of the latest Arduino, the “UNO” at the faire but wouldn’t sell them when offered cash by the vistors. I thought to myself why drag this box of Arduino Uno’s up from San Mateo and then refuse to sell them to the faire attendees? Then I remembered this is Oakland. Many businesses refuse to do business in Oakland and openly discriminate against Oaklanders. Why should Tim O’Reilly sell his Ardunio technology to Oaklanders? Just show up for the free publicity, hoard the Ardunios and take it back to your friends in San Mateo. The Arduino is advanced DIY technology, sold no where else in Oakland. MakerShed appears to be continuing in that fine old Bay Area Tradition of “red lining” Oakland. Oakland will be cut out breakthrough technology like the Arduino,but at least Oaklanders got to see how to make apple cider. The more things change the more they stay the same.

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