June 3 Marks Nine Years of the RI Mini Maker Faire

Maker News
June 3 Marks Nine Years of the RI Mini Maker Faire


On June 3, 2017, a Mini Maker Faire returns to Rhode Island for the 9th year. And even though no time machines were involved, this is our state’s 11th Mini Maker Faire. If you know how small our state is, you might wonder why we need two Mini Maker Faires.

The answer would take more words that I’m going to allow myself here. So, the one thing you need to know is that Rhode Islanders don’t like to cross the bridges between the island and the mainland. So to make things easier on all involved, we have two: one in Newport, and one in Providence. That way, nobody needs to cross a bridge if they don’t want to.

Bob Desmarais at RI Mini Maker Faire 2010

We were originally going to hold the RI Mini Maker Faire in Pawtucket, RI, the birthplace of the American industrial revolution. When RI Mini Maker Faire co-founder Kipp Bradford and I hatched the plan to bring a Maker Faire to our state, we set our sights squarely on McCoy Stadium, home of the longest professional baseball game. For a variety of reasons (largely the need to keep the green pristine during baseball season), it didn’t happen. Instead, we worked with the wonderful folks at Waterfire and held our Mini Maker Faire during their event for several years. We eventually incorporated the Providence edition of the Mini Maker Faire into a block party that AS220 holds each year. Our East Bay RI Mini Maker Faire takes place at the home of Fab Newport.

"MakerFaire RI at night!" by johngineer
“MakerFaire RI at night! Mitch Altman’s soldering workshop in full swing!” by johngineer from 2009

This year, we’re doing something different for the Providence event. The city’s Department of Art, Culture and Tourism is collaborating with AS220 and Johnson and Wales University this year. We are presenting the RI Mini Maker Faire as a feature of PVDFest, a free, family-friendly, city-wide celebration of all that is wonderful about Providence.

We’ll be taking over part of a parking lot right in the middle of downtown. If you’ve spent any time in Rhode Island, you know we refer to things by what they used to be, so I’ll tell you that it’s “the old Projo lot” without bothering to tell you what the Projo is. Hint: it is intimately tied to the history of the American diner which, yes, has its origins in Providence. One of the benefits of being an OG American colony is that you have plenty of runway for lots of firsts.

We’ve got a great lineup for you, with many highlights. One big highlight is the Moat Boat Paddle Battle, which you may have seen at other Maker Faires. It’s the brainchild of Make’s Matt Stultz and his collaborators from Pawtucket’s Ocean State Maker Mill (OSMM). OSMM has the distinction of being the closest makerspace to where the American industrial revolution began.

I hope to see you at the Faire!

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

I'm a tinkerer and finally reached the point where I fix more things than I break. When I'm not tinkering, I'm probably editing a book for Maker Media.

View more articles by Brian Jepson