I am a fan of the whole Maker Faire franchise and I’ve gone to the Calgary and Saskatoon ones as often as I could. This was the year I decided to dip my toes in as a booth person though! I brought stuff to sell but mostly… I brought my school age class set up. The drive to Saskatoon in late June was pretty much prairie idyllic. We’d gone up for the Etsy market earlier in the month and it was nice out but none of this green growing bit yet. Then, poof, 3 weeks later and THIS.
We started setting up at Prairieland right away. The venue had carpeting out because of the number of grad and wedding events going on and I thought that was brave given I was going to be dropping polymer clay all over it. Plus, there were pottery wheels and a whole Windstar van being taken apart right by me. On carpeting.
I got my partner, Lloyd, to help me this time. He patiently poked clay, showed the small folk how to mix and shape things and picked crumbs out of the carpet.
With the grade school set, I try to avoid work that requires real blades so most canework doesn’t happen. Instead we did a LOT of sculpting. I’m always impressed by what the kiddos make after they get a bit of an introduction. As they finished up projects, we wrapped them up in foil packets and passed their grownups my print out for how to bake it at home (or find more info). For this sort of demo I prepare by getting portions made ahead of time. I put a tray of pieces out and a handful of tools and shape cutters. There’s a supervised pasta machine at the end of the table and some work mats for folks to use.
I never get much chance to go tourist much at good shows – you’re too busy when it’s a good show! – but I did sneak a few looks. The whole event is geared as a family friendly edutainment event. I’m not sure if some of the bigger ones are more commercial since I’ve only been to the Calgary and Saskatoon ones. When the Calgary one was larger, there was a little more adult specific content some years and suppliers for it but that seems to come and go. The Saskatoon one is definitely geared towards the younger folks though, for now.
Despite the overall Make It For Kids vibe, there were still some projects geared towards the grownups. There was a camper that was entirely 3D printed. There was someone doing AI generated soundscapes. We bought our very first 3D printer from the booth just down from us (thanks Omni!). I am pretty sure my first prints will be pottery tools.
I would definitely love to see more stuff at the shows like this but it’s also one of those issues I understand from organizing events: you need volunteers and folks to bring stuff to you. I’d love to set Lloyd up talking about sustainable building set ups using our solar panels, insulation and so on as examples. Or his EV builds. Or my urban farming friends for how to grow food right in the city. Or the radio club. And then I start to think that Swift Current needs a mini Maker Faire of it’s own.
While Make magazine is what got the whole thing going, Make is super commercial in recent years. Individual Maker Faires take their mandates from their directors. The Saskatoon one can be found here. The lead organizers are good folks also running Fingertech Robotics. If you get the chance to check out a Maker Faire event, I recommend it. They’re a great blend of science, tech, art, and altruism.
The handout I used for this event was this, altered slightly to print front and back. Feel free to edit for your own use.