Our family has attended the Maker Faire at the San Mateo County Event Center every year it’s been held in the Bay Area. Each year it gets bigger and more crowded and this year was simply crazy!
The event is so popular, our local Silicon Valley and surrounding area crowd are drawn to it like filings to a magnet and the sights and sounds never cease to amaze me.
While we love it and look forward to it every year, it is easy to get overwhelmed and confused which doesn’t make for a good day so I thought I’d drop a few tips I’ve learned along the way.
1. Know your children. If they are fascinated by making things, can block out the stimulation overload, have a go and try it. If they are sensitive or bothered by crowds (or you are,) lower your expectations.
2. Know yourself. Are you a crafter? A moocher? Someone who wants to attend talks on a new fangled gas propelled car that will change the way of transportation as we know it? If you know what you like, head to those spots as soon as you get there.
3. Get there early, especially if you have younger children. I’m talking an hour ahead of time to be sure of a spot in the parking lot. We were there at 9:20am this year (it opens at 10am) and barely made it in. Walk if you can, take the train, cycle. There are satellite parking lots but you will need to walk varying distances to get to the showground if you park in those.
4. Bring food for the kids if you care about healthy food and if queues are not your thing.
5. Buy your tickets online ahead of time. The Maker Faire offers early bird ticket prices and that always helps. The line moves fairly quickly to get in although as I heard one man exclaim ten minutes before the gate opened, ‘This is the longest line I’ve ever seen!’
6. Do your homework. Learn about what is being offered and plan your targets. Pick up a map as soon as you get in.
7. Get to the popular demos early. You will need to get to some shows like The Giant Mousetrap and the Coke and Mentos show half an hour ahead of time to get a spot where you can see. That may be worth it for you or a total bore and you should plan accordingly.
9. Wear comfortable clothing and bring a backpack. There’s a lot of standing and walking, it can get cold and blustery and you will collect a lot of ‘gifts’ on your way round.
10. Give yourself at least several hours, there is so much to see and do. For are rest, there are oases of calm within the frenetic bustle and activity. This year, my favorite place was the needlecraft station. Last year it was felting. I do neither regularly but they calmed my soul alongside my son, restoring us for a couple more hours worth of investigation (and for me, standing around.) Sometimes, just sitting on the grass drinking some water will revive the senses.
11. Enjoy yourself and come away with some memories. Learn loads and try out even more. Marvel at the inventiveness of many and the passion of even more.
12. Go home and rest. Prepare for next year.