When I received the email calling for makers to exhibit in this year’s Maker Faire Miami, I thought it would be a fun learning experience. I’ve been to Maker Faires before, but had never been a part of one, so my colleague and I went ahead full force. Now when I said I thought it was going to be a learning experience, I truly underestimated myself. Not only did I learn about the do’s and don’ts of exhibiting, but also a lot about myself too.
Maker Faire exhibitors are broken down into three categories: non-commercial makers (that’s us!), commercial makers selling on site, and commercial makers showcasing. We were exhibiting Makerfication! Ours was a workshop type of exhibit, open to anyone who wanted to make and game. Our list of needs was long: a 20 x 20 space, 7 tables, 3 chairs, and electricity, so we were surprised when we were chosen.
Knowing the kind of person that I am, I had prepared a plan A, plan B, and even a plan C. I prepared for weeks before the event, buying everything we would need, and as it turned out, everything we wouldn't as well. Since we were a workshop exhibit, I was afraid of running out of materials, so I bought more than we needed. I also stressed about the location, which we had no idea what it would look like, or its location at the faire. I thought of every conceivable disastrous scenario, so I could plan for it.
Friday! The day had finally arrived. We headed over to the college campus after work, where the fair was to be held, to set up our exhibit. We were excited, scared, and tired from working all day. Suddenly all my fears were realized when we saw our booth: a 10 X 10 tent outside, 2 white chairs and 2 tables with a paper that said #45. My heart dropped! All the weeks of preparation felt as though they were in vain.
The matter was easily handled by the director. After some searching for a more suitable site, we were back on track! We scored a great location inside where we would have enough space to set up all our making tables and equipment. We were also next to the robot exhibit, so the extra traffic was a plus.
That set up day was long and tiring! We went and back and forth on table set-up, display of signage, and the best possible position for all the equipment. We left late that night not knowing how the next two days were going to go. All I knew is that they were going to be grueling.
Saturday came and after some last minute setting up, we were ready…..and so were the crowds! They started trickling in at first, but before long the weekend became a blur of making, and greeting, and helping, and getting, and bending, and coffee, and fun…..yes, fun, because after all the worrying and planning, at the end of the day it was lots of fun. All the planning had paid off! It paid off not only because our exhibit was successful, but because it was a great experience for both of us. The Maker Faire organizers could not have done a better job of making us feel welcomed and appreciated. They were helpful and organized. Because of it, the first Miami Maker Faire was a success!
I also learned a lot about not only preparing for a Maker Faire, but about myself too. People appreciate when things have ease. Ease does not happen with ease. Ease is the end result of other people preparing and problem solving. My colleague and I spent many hours preparing for that weekend so people could experience the joy of making with ease, and they did just that. We will do many more Maker Faires, and yes I will do a plan A, B, and C, and in the end not need them, but thats ok. The experience and joy far out weighs my over planning and aching feet.
Check out our video of Makerfication! at Maker Faire Miami!