I now think of 2012 as the Mini Maker Faire boom. It was the year that the UK Maker Faire didn’t run, sporning many Mini Faires into creation. That year I first co-produced Derby Mini Maker Faire, Manchester had the unofficial official (mini) Maker Faire and of course there was the first Maker Faire for Ireland, Dublin Mini Maker Faire all in 2012!
But why “mini”? Why not Dublin Maker Faire? To drop the “mini” part you need to be a featured Faire. This entails a bit more involvement from Maker Media and a different licence. Having been involved with conversations about the original ideas for a London based mini Faire I know that the name Elephant & Castle Mini Maker Faire was a compromise. The E&C team having been told that “London” could not hold a Mini Maker Faire. That being true, maybe Dublin couldn’t either? Anyway Dublin Mini Maker Faire dropped Maker Media and have gone for the alternative self branded Dublin Maker which now enjoys it’s 4th year.
The event is one day only “it’s fairer on the Makers” explained event co-producer Jeffery Roe of TOG, Dublin’s Hackerspace. It’s free entry and has a footfall of about 10,000 visitors by best estimates. Support for the event is strong with partner organisation from the Science Gallery, Festival of Curiosity and Trinity College as well as sponsors like Hack Dublin and Intel.
Exhibitors included travelling makers from around the UK and Ireland, TOG the Dublin Hackerspace, Galway’s 091 Labs, prop makers, educators and crafters of all kinds with around 40 groups of exhibitors. The event is held primarily on the Physics Lawn, a grassed area of Trinity College surrounded by venerably named buildings proclaiming PHYSIOLOGY and ANATOMY. The Maker event forms a village of little marquees spreading through the park like campus.
I scratched together a stall consisting of soldering kits and fellow Shark MSRaynsfords popular laser cut toys and had a frantic though fun time chatting with local makers and visitors. Dublin has a large Polish community (Polish being the 3rd most spoken language after English and Galic though some say that really makes it the 2nd most used) and I’d estimate at least half the families I spoke with were Polish and highly engaged with the making culture.
If you’re looking to run an event for makers and don’t want to be a Maker Faire licencee you couldn’t go far wrong by following Dublin Makers example. For me their biggest challenge is to make it sustainable for the organisers (so they have time to do it) and to continue to grow it. Maybe it’d benefit from charging a small fee for entry and having some big crowd pulling items or acts? Anyway I look forward to being there next time and seeing its continued success!