Dayton’s History of Innovation Informs its Mini Maker Faire

Maker News
Dayton’s History of Innovation Informs its Mini Maker Faire

You can’t go a day without Dayton. No, seriously, it’s true, this midsize Midwest city packs a colossal punch. By the turn of the 20th century, Dayton had more patents, per capita, than any U.S. city. From the airplane to the automobile self-starter to the cash register, the Gem City’s incredible history of innovation punches high above its weight.

While the Dayton Mini Maker Faire takes place at Carillon Historical Park—a 65-acre open-air historical museum—neither organization is living entirely in the past. In fact, the idea is to bring the region’s past to life to inspire the future. And that’s never more evident than at Mini Maker Faire.

Now in its third year, the Dayton Mini Maker Faire comes to life amongst extensive exhibits dedicated to the Wright brothers, self-starter inventor Charles Kettering, and groundbreaking artifacts that changed the world (like the 1905 Wright Flyer III: the only airplane designated a National Historic Landmark). And because Carillon Historical Park employs costumed historical interpreters on a daily basis, a number of exhibits are dedicated to makers of yore. Alongside candlemakers, woodworkers, and blacksmiths you’ll find 3D printers, soldering stations, and robotics. Like Dayton, its Mini Maker Faire is both groundbreaking and completely unique.

The “greatest show (and tell) on Earth” takes place August 4 and 5 at Carillon Historical Park. Here are seven highlights:


LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus will be sending Master Model Builder Maxx Davidson to Dayton Mini Maker Faire with thousands upon thousands of Lego bricks in tow. Kids (and adults) are encouraged to let their imaginations run wild; and workshops will be available.

A PBS favorite: The American Woodshop

For a quarter century, master woodworker Scott Phillips has wowed PBS audiences with The American Woodshop. Phillips began his journey in 1966 in his father’s wood shop, and alongside his wife, Suzy, celebrated the program’s silver anniversary in January 2018. In describing the show, PBS notes: “The American Woodshop with Scott Phillips guides us through the creations of many unique pieces, from spice cabinets to decorative picture frames and mirrors to a plantation table. Of course all things you can make at your woodshop at home.” Scott Phillips will be at Dayton Mini Maker Faire on Saturday.

Hair Raising Science!

Anyone who attended last year’s Mini Maker Faire knows Mister C’s performance was hair-raisingly fantastic. The mad(ly fun) scientist turns a subject that might otherwise be a yawn into a wildly creative multimedia presentation inspiring audiences young and old. Mister C is a veteran educator, Ohio’s 2016 Lead PBS Digital Innovator, the host and creator of the PBS Kids’ show Full STEAM Ahead, and a star of Mini Maker Faire on Sunday.

Air Force vet makes 3D printed Star Wars, Iron Man, and War Machine suits

Major Timothy O’Sullivan of the U.S. Air Force has won countless honors for his service, including the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. And after being wounded in combat, Major O’Sullivan found respite in the world of 3D printing. A novice when he began his impressive full-body Iron Man suit a few years back, he is now an expert, working on projects such as C-3PO and War Machine suits. Major O’Sullivan’s fascinating 3D-printed suits are a highlight of Veteran Organization events, Children’s Hospital visits, and the 3rd annual Mini Maker Faire.

Tiny Dragons

Rawr Dragon Creations founder Amber Rimkus discovered the joys of polymer clay while working at a childcare center. Rimkus soon attempted to make her own tiny dragon out of polyclay, and as she notes on her website: “One dragon soon turned to two and kept multiplying, as dragons tend to do.” Rawr Dragon Creations will be providing some big adventures with tiny dragons at Mini Maker Faire.

Carillon Historical Park- Wright Flyer and displays
Feb. 4, 2015
©2015 Photograph by Skip Peterson

Do you have the Wright stuff?

The Wright Stuff Rocketeers will once again have their 300 x 300-foot model rocket launch zone. For a small fee visitors can build their own rocket and launch it on the green space surrounding Deeds Carillon near the entrance to Carillon Historical Park. As a fun side note, the grounds surrounding Deeds Carillon were originally designed by the Olmsted Brothers, the famed landscape architects responsible for Central Park.

Boneyard Build-Off: The crown jewel of the Dayton Mini Maker Faire is the Boneyard Build-Off, a Junkyard Wars-style competition where professional makers race against the clock to complete a project using repurposed and recycled materials. At the inaugural Mini Maker Faire, numerous teams built go-karts; last year, their challenge was to build a water balloon launcher. Attendees can either watch in person or across Carillon Historical Park via video feed provided by local amateur radio operators.

WHAT: The 3rd Annual Dayton Mini Maker Faire

WHERE: Carillon Historical Park, 1000 Carillon Blvd.

WHEN: August 4 from 9:30am–5:00pm and August 5 from 11:00am–4:00pm


Adults (18-59): $8
Seniors: (60+): $7
Children (3-17): $5
Children Under 3: Free
Dayton History members: Free
Parking: Free
Carillon Brewing Co. open all day

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Leo DeLuca

Leo DeLuca's writing has been featured by Ohio Magazine, Pitchfork, The A.V. Club, and more. The co-author of Dayton's Spirit of Community Service and Leadership (Dayton History, 2016), DeLuca is a three-time All Ohio Excellence in Journalism award winner.

View more articles by Leo DeLuca
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