With a do-it-yourself spirit, Greenbelt hosted its first Mini-Maker Faire, with more than 70 exhibits showcasing everything from knitting and wool weaving to homemade motors and 3-D printing.
“A Maker Faire is a combination of country fair and arts and crafts, and do-it-yourself electronics. It’s sort of a mix of everything,” said event organizer George Boyce of Greenbelt.
Boyce said that what differentiates a maker faire from a craft show is the wide range of work displayed, as well as the level of interaction and learning.
“Everything is supposed to be interactive. We don’t just want people selling stuff, although we have some of that,” Boyce said. “We have hands-on soldering at one end, and slime making at the other. The slime making may not sound very educational, but you can make it educational when you explain the chemistry behind it.”
Exhibitor Renata Atkinson of Greenbelt demonstrated the medicinal uses of kitchen herbs and spices such as garlic, ginger root and fennel.
“All of the herbs and spices in our kitchens have really wonderful, health-supporting properties,” said Atkinson, who handed out samples of peppermint fennel iced tea.
Mariana Rico of Silver Spring attended the maker faire to show off her homemade motor, which runs on magnetic fields.
“A lot of people don’t know what they can make at home. These items that I used to make it are all things people can find in their homes, so anyone can make it,” Rico said.
Maker faires have been held in large cities across the U.S. and in other countries, attracting thousands of visitors.
Other cities in Maryland, such as Silver Spring and Linthicum, have held mini-maker faires; Greenbelt’s Mini-Maker Faire is the first in Prince George’s County, Boyce said.
“Greenbelt has a rich history of fairs and festivals, the Labor Day Festival, the Green Man Festival, but a lot of those are really traditional in nature. If they have any maker activities, it’s purely arts and crafts, making jewelry and fashion and stuff like that. So the Mini-Maker Faire introduces robotics and technology into that mix,” Boyce said. “We even have a 3-D printer making jewelry.”
Boyce estimated that 2,500 people attended the Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire.
Boyce said he hopes the fair will become a yearly tradition.
“We’re hoping this will be the first of an annual event,” Boyce said.