In a 3 weekend stretch that included me exhibiting for Kitronik and Robox at the Gadget Show Live at the NEC and a Mini Maker Faire in far flung Edinburgh I’m resting in a Travel Tavern somewhere on the A1(M) near York after a weekend at the UK Maker Faire. Before I dismantle the Corby Trouser Press I thought I’d knock out a blog post. This year marked the 6th UK Maker Faire at the Centre for Life (CfL) in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. The UK’s only “featured” Faire (i.e. NOT a so called Mini Maker Faire). The team at Centre for Life put a lot of work into the event and aren’t shy with spending some cash on getting big ticket attractions either. It’s the closest thing the UK has got (though minuscule by comparison) to something approaching the big Faires in San Mateo (Bay Area Maker Faire) and Flushing Meadow (World Maker Faire New York). Time Square outside the Centre for Life offers a bit of space for so real crowd pulling big attractions included Matt Denton’s giant Mantis Robot Hexapod and the highly entertaining Eppybirds Coke and Mentos fountains. These things aren’t cheap to put on and CfL really makes an effort to find money to make it a big show.
Sadly though I feel the show is on the wane. For me it feels like fewer Makers are attending and there seemed to be fewer punters this time too. Maybe it’s because I’ve been to so many Faires now that I’m personally not seeing anything truly new? The first time I came to the Maker Faire in 2010 was more or less the first time I’d ever met people really into the same stuff as me, the fledgling Nottingham Hackspace had only really gotten started 3 or 4 days before, with 4 people meeting in a pub! So maybe it’s only me that has changed? The Maker Faire faces a lot more competition now from other events. With at least 10 Mini Maker Faire and similar unbranded events now mostly in their 3rd or 2nd year. It’s notable to me that London based makers like Sugru, London Hackspace, Technology Will Save Us and Bare Conductive don’t go to the Newcastle Faire. Is it just to far away in the “insignificant” and not so cool North?
For me though it’s all about networking. I’m in a very lucky position that through my love of the Faires and through going to, well pretty much all of them, I know a huge number of makers. I was sad not to see some of my good friends at the Faire as for me, the Newcastle Faire has become a red letter day on my calendar. Many people asked me about the London Maker Faire as this blog is one of the only bits of info on that ill fated pipe-dream. If the big London Faire ever does happen I wonder if it’ll be the death of the Newcastle event? The Centre for Life don’t really deserve a diminishing event as they put in so much effort…. but maybe they do need to reinvent the formulae a bit? Maybe they need to do something different for the makers? Something that makes makers want to be there?
In other Maker Faire news Derby Mini Maker Faire 2015 has now put out the call to makers so please sign up and I’m pleased to say that there is a planned (though at somewhat short notice) Faire for Bristol at the @Bristol museum on the 22nd August this year so please save the date!
I’m calling this year’s UK Maker Faire the Selfie-Stick Maker Faire as I had my selfie-stick and wasn’t afraid to use it!