Creative displays, interactive exhibits and descriptions of exciting forthcoming projects, as well as art, robotics, electronics, crafts, clean technology, music and even food will highlight the March 28 exposition at Benicia Middle School.
While applications to exhibit were due last month, Newcomb said he’s managed to find a handful of spots for those who may want to show off their creations to the 3,000 or so expected to travel to Benicia from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
But he’s also putting out the call for volunteers, too. It will take plenty of helpers to keep this inaugural Maker Faire a success, he said.
And “yes,” he added of the word “Faire,” “we spell it with an ‘e.’”
He said he is looking for a volunteer coordinator willing to recruit other volunteers and keep their activities coordinated, as well as an area coordinator who would be the “go-to” person for those participating in the event.
Other volunteers are being sought for registration and check-in, with such duties as scanning tickets and taking money as well as redirecting those who try to gain back-door access; setup and tear- down; working Friday night and Saturday to arrange the faire’s tables, cables and banners, and post-faire work to put away all those items; and parking attendants who would direct traffic to specific lots.
In addition, Newcomb said he is seeking people who will help as staff at a variety of booths with such names as “Learn to Solder,” “Paper Rockets,” “Fabric Hack Zone,” “Nerdy Derby” and “Tear It Apart.”
The Benicia Mini Maker Faire is a chance for creative types to showcase some of the things they’ve been working, either as part of Benicia Makerspace or on their own, Newcomb said.
The event is a blend of country fair and science fair, he said, bringing together those involved in technology, crafts, education, science clubs, writing, art, engineering, hobbies and tinkering.
It attracts both private and commercial exhibitors, he said, as well as musical performers, speakers and large roaming exhibits, such as those by the Obtainium Works from Vallejo.
Among the expected highlights, an American Canyon robotics club will bring a full-scale R2D2 droid that operates remotely and interacts with people. One girl will bring her cardboard arcade games, and another will have a technology exhibit.
The Maker Faire movement began in 2006 in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has continued with two “flagship” annual events, one in San Mateo and the other in New York. Those are larger events, lasting two days.Last year, the nation’s capital had its own Maker event at the White House, attended by Mayor Elizabeth Patterson. President Barack Obama declared “National Day of Making” during the celebration of creativity.
Newcomb said big-box home improvement stores have encouraged do-it-yourself activities, but some projects need collaboration, especially when an element of the project is beyond the expertise of the person tackling the job.
Makerspace organizations such as the one in Benicia solve that by providing coaching in specific skills, as well as collaboration among those with different skills.
“We have had people build robots out of code we gave at a workshop on micro-controller boards,” Newcomb said.
One person, Jim Kennon, asked if he could make improvements to the code, and added enough devices to create a robot he can operate with a joystick, he said. He will show an electric car he made from scratch.
The local Maker Faire had its beginnings in the Community Sustainability Commission’s Clean Tech Fair, which gave residents a chance to look at public transportation, electric vehicles, three-dimensional printing and other cutting-edge technologies.
When the commission decided it wanted the expo to continue without running it, Benicia Makerspace saw an opportunity to turn the event into a Maker Faire that would incorporate some of the elements of the Clean Tech Expo, such as Doug Snyder’s California Ebike.
Newcomb said Benicia Middle School was chosen as the first local Maker Faire site because “it has the perfect mix of indoor and outdoor space.”
He said Benicia Unified School District has been supportive of the local Maker organization, even offering temporary use of a building until organizers can find a permanent home.
In addition, middle school students “are the perfect age to be inspired” by what they might see. Some exhibitors may bring ideas that later could develop into businesses “right here in Benicia,” he said.
The event isn’t just for youngsters, he said. The exhibits are for people of all ages. Nor is it limited to Benicia — Newcomb said people from throughout the Bay Area will travel here for the event.
But it will be convenient for residents, too, he said. “The closest is Oakland,” he said. “This is a lighthouse for Benicia.”
Admission to the faire is $10 for adults and $5 for those 17 and younger. Newcomb recommended advance purchases to avoid anticipated lines the day of the faire.
Those interested can visit the event’s website, beniciamakerfaire.com, to order tickets through Eventbrite. The website also offers ways an individual, organization or company can become a sponsor, including through the purchase of tickets that can be shared with low-income individuals who otherwise might be unable to attend.
The Benicia Mini Maker Faire will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 28 at Benicia Middle School, 1100 Southampton Road.