One of the longest-running Maker Faires in the world, Maker Faire Kansas City blasts off this weekend, June 24 and 25, for the eighth year in a row. Last year, Kansas City’s vibrant and supportive maker community came out in droves, with over 17,000 folks in attendance. This year, the organizers have a robust and eclectic mix of more than 350 maker exhibits lined up to inform and inspire. Not only is the Faire held at the 100-year-old Union Station Kansas City, but leading the charge is the eponymous nonprofit organization “dedicated to science education, celebration of community, and preservation of history.”
We asked Margaret Hoang, one of the lead organizers and program coordinator for Science City (the science center housed at Union Station), what’s new for 2017. Here’s what she shared:
Maker Faire Kansas City has really grown and expanded our educational component. We are in our second year of “Maker – InspirED,” an educator-only experience the Friday before our Faire. It has grown from a one-hour session to a half-day session this year with local companies and colleges really stepping forward to encourage educators to bring making into their classrooms. We have “Get InspirED” talks, break-out sessions, and other activities planned. Additionally, our Goldsmith sponsor this year is the Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T), a local university. We have seen more colleges and schools really invest in our Maker Faire!
We are also extremely proud of the partnerships we have with local businesses this year. In partnership with KCPT, our local public television, and 90.9 The Bridge, a local radio station, we are activating a brand-new 32,000-square-foot space on the Union Station grounds, the Haverty Family Yards. During the day in Haverty Family Yards, KCPT is hosting a “KCPT KidsZone” with kid maker stations, family-friendly performances, and appearances from KCPT TV characters. In the evening, we will be transitioning the space to host an evening concert featuring Anderson East. It is a separate ticket purchase from our Maker Faire. Another partnership is with The Strawberry Swing, a local indie craft fair, named Top 35 from BuzzFeed. We will have a Strawberry Swing Pop-Up featuring 80 local craft makers.
Kansas City Sampler
With so many makers and exhibits in the lineup, there’s something for everyone, no matter what revs your engine. Below is just a little sampler of what you’ll see at this year’s Maker Faire Kansas City. Be sure to check out the full list of makers as well as the schedule of performances, workshops, demos, and talks.
The Strawberry Swing Indie Craft Fair
Full of creatives who are experts at their craft, this indie fair is the Midwest’s celebration of the handmade movement. Founded in 2011, The Strawberry Swing has become a Kansas City tradition and is one of the top Indie Maker Fairs in the Midwest.
KU PESO’s Tesla Coil
The Tesla coil was first developed as a means for wireless power transmission. They have since become a dramatic example of principles of electromagnetism. Come learn about these devices while enjoying music played over 15-foot bolts of lightning! University of Kansas’ Physics and Engineering Student Organization (PESO) is focused on the entirely student-directed conceptualization, design, fabrication, and demonstration of spectacular devices that are used to educate and excite the community about STEM!
Realistic Impressions Car Club
A crowd favorite, the souped-up low riders of Kansas City’s own Realistic Impressions Car Club will be on display, hopping and wowing the audience on Sunday at 2 p.m. on Pershing Road.
Watch them in action from last year to believe it.
Maker Couture Fashion Show
Last year, Maker Faire Kansas City hosted a Maker Movement-inspired fashion show for the first time, presenting what they call “Maker Couture.” It was so well-received that on Saturday, June 24, the show is back, featuring a wide range of artists of all ages and abilities showcasing their innovative designs.
Lumen Electronic Jewelry
Lumen Electronic Jewelry, the brainchild of sister and brother team Robin and Martin Lawson, blurs the line between science and art with their custom-designed circuit boards and twinkling LED lights, powered by tiny jewel-like solar panels incorporated into every design.
AudioBody High-Tech Comedy
Brothers Matt and Jason Tardy have created a synthesis of music, comedy, and technology known as AudioBody. Their explosive mix of circus arts, relentless comedy, full-body contortion, juggling, LED light shows, and live, up-beat, and electronic music features a custom 15-foot wide drum set, electronic jumpsuits, and a complete computerized LED lighting system. See them perform on Sunday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Haverty Family Yards.
Grapes & Paints Live Mural Painting
Johnson County’s first social BYOB painting studio, Grapes & Paints, will be offering a one-of-a-kind painting experience: live mural painting with the audience collaboration. Never painted? No problem. They’ll guide you stroke-by-stroke though the design! Check the workshop schedule for painting times.
Power Racing Series
This year’s Power Racing Series kicked off at Maker Faire Bay Area in San Mateo, and the second set of races take place at Maker Faire Kansas City. If you don’t know what the Power Racing Series is, imagine teams of intrepid (and hilarious) makers modifying kid toy cars on a budget of $500 and then racing around the track, testing not only their engineering prowess but also their moxie, gaining points for how well the vehicle performs as well as what a great show they put on. The track for this event is built and maintained by The Cowtown Computer Congress of Kansas City (C3KC), a local nonprofit dedicated to providing educational resources to the community.
Columbia Gadget Works
Columbia Gadget Works is a small but feisty hackerspace from mid-Missouri that aims to be an enabler of creating, building, and making of all sorts. Several of their members’ projects will be on display, along with a sample of their cardboard fighting robots.