Miami’s First Mini Maker Faire, a colorful community collision

Miami Mini Maker Faire, a Flickr set by Michael Bolden

Creativity, technology and innovation overflowed The LAB Miami co-working space in Wynwood recently during Miami’s first Mini Maker Faire.

The event, supported by Knight Foundation, offered the opportunity for South Florida makers and do-it-yourself innovators to showcase their products and ideas. The Faire attracted throngs of people of all ages and backgrounds, showing the growing interest in Miami as a place where ideas are built.

The turnout of more than 1,700 thrilled organizers. “This is hugely successful,” said Mike Greenberg, a producer of the Faire, as crowds gathered for product demonstrations, to play games and to see the creations from dozens of exhibitors. “I can tell you that there [are] going to be Maker Faires more often in the area.”

Maker Faires have been held all over the world since the first one debuted in California in 2006. The largest faires, held in cities from Tokyo to Rome and New York, bring tens of thousands of people together to show off and appreciate technological and artisanal creations. Independent Mini Maker Faires, such as the one held Nov. 16 in Miami, are more community-based.

The Miami Mini Maker Faire sprawled across Knight-funded spaces in Wynwood. The LAB Miami formed the hub, but the adjacent Light Box at Goldman Warehouse hosted many makers, and attendees could travel several blocks by double-decker bus to O Cinema for documentary screenings.

There was a lot for everyone to see and do. The LAB held multiple 3-D printers busily creating objects, a virtual reality lab, a Community Doodle table, animatronic kits and more. The rear parking lot resembled a festive carnival, with music, food trucks, a tire swing carousel, even a school bus converted to a “micro theater.”

The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse offered more tech displays, along with robots assembled from old camera parts and other items, jewelry, baked goods, Panther Coffee—even cutting-edge designs for prosthetics. There was high energy as the inventors proudly showed off their hard work and the attendees asked questions.

Carly Barnes, a graduate student hosting the Northbound HackLab exhibit, showed the crowd how to use her life-size Daft Booth music creation. Participants could make electronic tunes by pressing different colored Frisbees. “I think spaces like this, like in the actual technology field, like the coding world, it might be a little different, a little bit more intimidating,” she said. “But in a space like this where it’s trying to get communities involved, it’s a lot more welcoming.”

That was a goal of organizers. The event was a partnership between MIAMade, an organization that supports the local maker community, and Maker Media Inc., founders of the Maker Faire.

“The really cool thing about all this is 90 percent of the exhibitors here we didn’t know before,” Ric Herrero, lead organizer of the Faire and head of MIAMade, told the Miami Herald. “The bet was if we had a Faire, the makers would come out, and they have come out in spades. This is a DIY town.”

The Faire also brought out plenty of kids, as parents introduced them to maker culture. Kids ran from making toothbrush heads with motors to the colorful carousel, and more. Part of the Faire was even devoted to programs and projects just for children, especially those younger than 12.

“I grew up with technology, but not the way that these kids have,” said Hannah Padykula, a senior at Coral Reef High School. “They understand more at 6 years old than I understood at 12. There’s no way that introducing kids this age to technology isn’t going to make a huge impact on our future.”

Lindsay Brown, communications intern at Knight Foundation