What’s Maker Faire?
It’s “half county fair, half Renaissance fair and half science fair,” says Luis Rodriguez, the maker-in-chief of what Union Station bills as a festival of invention and creativity.
The good news is, you don’t have to be a math whiz to enjoy Maker Faire, which this weekend takes over Union Station for the fourth time.
The Kansas City edition has become one of the biggest Maker Faires in the country: More than 350 makers, most from here, will show off whatever they’re into. Attendance is expected to top 13,000.
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There’ll be something to gawk at wherever you turn. Two stages will be inside; one will be out front of the station. The Maker Studio in Science City will have hands-on activities such as how to solder. Maker booths will be everywhere. Food trucks will be on hand as well, and there’ll even be a small barbecue contest this year.
Visual effects artist Fon Davis, who has created models for the “Star Wars” movie franchise, will show off his work.
Thirteen teams of Power Wheels racers, a returning fan favorite, will zoom about in their souped-up electric kids cars.
Team Robot Japan will demonstrate WWE-style wrestling with, yes, robots.
Dale Dougherty, founder of Make magazine and the Maker Faire concept, will speak.
A local family will show how to make replicas of the Tardis (a spaceship) and Daleks (robots) from cult TV show “Doctor Who.”
An extended preview will be shown of “Print the Legend,” a Netflix documentary on 3-D printing. Producer Chad Troutwine will be on hand along with “3-D printing evangelist” Michael Curry, who’s featured in the film. Both are from Kansas City. (Curry will bring along a 3-D-printed car. It’s Power Wheels-sized and completely plastic, Rodriguez says.)
The EepyBird guys will be back with demonstrations of what happens when you mix Mentos candy with soda. It’s like a fountain show, but they also talk about the science behind it.
Members of a local Dagorhir group, dressed in medieval costumes, will fight with swords and other weaponry they make from foam.
Local guy Eric Melin, world air guitar champ, will demonstrate his winning talent.
What else? Just to skim the surface: Marshmallow shooters. High school robotics teams. Science and technology DIY (including projects made with the $35 credit card-sized computer known as Raspberry Pi). Arts and crafts such as homemade soap and perfumes. Tesla coils that produce lightning. Alternative energy vehicles. Low-riders and Model Ts. Artisan foods. Urban farming. Sustainable living. Circuit boards. And live music.
Local group CinemaKC will document the whole shebang, including with cameras mounted on two drones.
And if you can’t be there but just want to get a sense of what’s going on, watch live webcasts from the three stages at makerfairekc.com.
“It’s a fun event,” Rodriguez says. “It’s a family-friendly event where you can learn about science, technology and art. All of these makers will be showing what they’re passionate about and how they did it.”
Saturday and Sunday
Maker Faire runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Union Station, Pershing Road and Main Street. One-day admission is $12 for adults; $9 for kids 3 to 12 (up $2 from last year). Weekend and family passes are also available. Get tickets at makerfairekc.com or at the event.
The Maker Faire main stage, known as Innovation Stage, will anchor Union Station’s Grand Hall. (For a complete schedule of stuff happening on all three stages, visit www.makerfairekc.com.)
12:30 p.m.: Make magazine founder Dale Dougherty
2:30 p.m.: Fon Davis, movie visual effects wizard
3:30 p.m.: Maker education panel featuring Dougherty and others
4:30 p.m.: Sneak peek of “Print the Legend,” a documentary on 3-D printing
10:30 a.m.: “Maker Cities” panel including Make magazine’s Dale Dougherty
11:30 a.m.: “Maker Families” panel including young maker extraordinaire Joey Hudy and mom Julie
1:30 p.m.: Visual effects artist Fon Davis on “Making Stop Motion Magic”
2:30 p.m.: “Diva of DIY” Leanne Lee