Atlanta Mini Maker Faire — Follow-Up Report

The Atlanta Mini Maker Faire was held on September 10, 2011 at the Georgia Tech campus — nice (but hot) weather, easy parking, and over 60 exhibitors allowed visitors plenty of time to stop, look, chat, and even make some purchases. I asked the event’s coordinator, Eric Weinhoffer, if he could provide some more details about the event, as well as attendance figures and any lessons learned that might help other Mini Maker Faire coordinators in the future.

The first Atlanta Mini Maker Faire was a success! Our exhibitors were fantastic, and completely understanding of some of the hiccups we encountered, since it was our first time. They were helpful, accepting, and showed off amazing work. They interested our guests, and hopefully inspired many of them to make something of their own. Next year we hope to expand and improve the Faire. We will consider moving off campus, where there aren’t as many restrictions, and it will probably be easier to find a large venue. We would also like to include speakers and more performers next year; hopefully we’ll have a stage to put them on. Due to the intensity of the sun we faced this year, I’d like to provide more pop-up tents and fluids to our exhibitors next year as well. The setup period was also extremely hectic due to fact that most exhibitors showed up at the same time; next year we’re going to split the exhibitors into groups, which will arrive and setup at different times. We would also like to have more sponsors for the next year’s event. Our estimated attendance was roughly 2,000 guests. My advice to other MMF organizers is to keep your head up, work hard, and enjoy it! It’s definitely worth the hard work you put into it in the end.

I think Eric’s estimates on attendance might be a bit conservative, but he’s right that the event was a big success — from 10am to 5pm, the event had a consistent coming-and-going of attendees of all ages, and kids especially had a great time seeing the R2-D2 Builders Club show off their droids, numerous robots on display, and a variety of artisans including a blacksmith (the kids loved Sean O’Shea of Industrious Designs and his nails made into swords) and a glass blower.

Some photos from the event are starting to be uploaded on the Flickr group page — if you were in attendance and have some additional photos, please consider adding them to the group page.

You can view a complete list of all the exhibitors— a few notable callouts that I enjoyed:

  • the pickup truck converted to electric power
  • the Freeside ATL hackerspace group
  • the brand new My Inventor Club, a 6400 square foot shop that will begin selling memberships and offering training to residents of Atlanta and surrounding areas.

I’d also like to thank Fashionable Notes and Allen Digital Fine Art for talking to me about their small businesses and their design ideas and inspirations — only at a Mini Maker Faire could I find a booth selling reusable market bags across from a booth selling artwork created from photographs and computer-generated algorithms.

Plans are already in place for next year’s Atlanta Mini Maker Faire, so if you missed attending or coming as an exhibitor, mark your calendars and bookmark the Atlanta Mini Maker Faire site for news starting next spring.

Below you’ll find a handful of my own photos from the event that include the R2-D2 Builders Club and Sean the Blacksmith.

R2-D2 Builders Club
We had a nice assortment of droids on hand — the adults loved them just as much as the kids, but the group did have to keep asking folks to move along… “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”

The Designer Is In
Those with engineering or design questions could get their questions answered at a ridiculously low price on Saturday.

JD Warren's Segbot
JD Warren, inventor of the LawnBot 400 (Make Volume 22) was on hand to show off his robot designs, including this Segway clone. (I got to ride it — worked great!)

Similar to JD’s LawnBot 400, NagliTech had their E-Goat on hand, a remote controlled lawnmower that will soon incorporate GPS for hands-free mowing.