The Maker Faire originated in the San Francisco Bay area seven years ago, stemming from the popularity of Make Magazine, which is geared for the DIY crowd of indie craftspeople.
This will be The Henry Ford’s third year hosting a Maker Faire in Detroit. How it came to the region was somewhat serendipitous; Make Magazine founder Dale Dougherty was looking to partner with groups across the country to take Maker Faire to a national platform. He didn’t necessarily plan for Detroit, but happened to make a stop at The Henry Ford.
“As soon as he got here, he thought we were the perfect backdrop to feature makers of today, since our entire property features makers of the past,” said Shauna Wilson, media and film production manager at The Henry Ford. “He approached us, and we loved the idea. Several of us knew about Make Magazine and the Maker Faire already, and we were just thrilled they would consider doing one in Detroit.”
Now The Henry Ford produces the event independently, with Make’s collaboration. This year the event is scheduled for July 28-29.
In case you’re wondering about the funny spelling, “faire” is a historically accurate way to spell “fair,” and the nontraditional spelling has been used since Dougherty created the concept. It just so happens to fit in very well at The Henry Ford.
Maker Faire Detroit is not limited to Michigan makers; Wilson noted that makers come in from all over the country to display what they are making.
“It’s a family friendly festival of invention and creativity and a great way to show off what’s going on in the maker movement in Detroit and around the region,” Wilson said.
Guests can expect to see a little bit of everything, from crafts, to art installations, robotics, alternative vehicles, hands on demonstrations, and other, interactive exhibits, such as homemade bicycles. Since the goods on display can vary so greatly, the makers are grouped by theme, including robotics, electronics, crafts made in Michigan, sustainability, local roots and more.
Not all goods are for sale; some are just on display or set up for visitors to interact and play with. However, Maker Faire Detroit also includes a Handmade Detroit Bazaar.
The event has definitely gained momentum over the past three years and is starting to make an impact in the region.
“Our hope is for the event to bring inspiration to people in the area,” Wilson said. “We love that it shows off other things that are going on in Detroit that may be under many people’s radar, as well as how resourceful people are, and we hope that it inspires the next level of makers. When a child can come and see an adult who has built a robot that can play chess, controlled by an iPad, that child may find it truly inspiring, much more so than a traditional classroom lesson of something that was invented centuries ago.”
This year, Maker Faire Detroit is expecting 400 makers to participate. The number has grown rapidly from the first Maker Faire Detroit in 2010, which featured about 250. Last year, the event had more than 22,000 guests attend.
Maker Faire Detroit is very accommodating to all makers; The Henry Ford’s policy is to accept all applicants, provided they can accommodate the makers’ logistical needs. Unfortunately the application deadline for makers has already passed, but Wilson encourages all interested makers (and non-makers) to come and check out the event. There is an admission fee, which varies based on adult/child and member/nonmember (to The Henry Ford). An adult nonmember admission is $27.
“The Henry Ford showcases ordinary individuals that did something extraordinary to change the world,” said Patricia Mooradian, president of The Henry Ford. “We inspire our visitors with the stories of the great innovators of our past–people like Thomas Edison, Rosa Parks and Henry Ford. Maker Faire Detroit, at its core, is a celebration of what ordinary individuals, today in our region, are doing as problem-solvers, thinkers and makers.”
Find out more at makerfairedetroit.com.