The Maker Faire is insanely, incredibly awesome. The day has four main emotions: first, the awesomeness washes over you upon entering, as you see all of the colors, ideas, and nerdiness in its glory; second, the adrenaline hits as you moving to and fro the booths and demos you want to see; third is inspiration, as you feel ideas pop into your head or merely the overwhelming feeling to set aside time in your regular life to be creative; and fourth, pure exhaustion. You will arrive back to your car, train, or home, and want to collapse.
How do you best navigate this special day or weekend with kids?
1. Be early or late. Mid-day is most crowded, which means it’s best to get there early, preferably just after opening time to miss the huge line to get inside. The converse is to go in the afternoon when crowds start to head out, leaving much more room in the halls or room to get hands-on or to talk to the makers themselves. The afternoon option is especially best if you have two days at the faire.
2. Eat lunch early. If you’re spending the whole day at the Maker Faire, grab lunch early. The food lines suddenly go from sparse to long in a flash. Get that corn dog or jambalaya early, then see the exhibits while the large crowds are eating. Bring water, and maybe light snacks, too.
3. Plan before you go. Look at the schedule and the map to pick the booths you most want to see and the talks you most want to attend. The talks are full of inspiration and good ideas. Don’t overlook them. Plus, they are a great place to take a break in the shade. If you want to see the Mousetrap, get there early to get a spot where kids can see. Or else, expect to put them on your shoulders.
4. Make a meet up plan. Write your cell phone number on your child’s arm, and make a plan of where to meet, if you get separated. It’s loud, which makes cell phones hard to hear, making that back up meeting place crucial. Set a new meeting spot after entering each new zone.
5. Set a budget before you go. Kids want everything at the Maker Faire, but much of it costs money, like soap making, Lego figures, science kits, and more. If you have a child who begs, talk about limits before you go.
6. Buy tickets in advance! They are cheaper online than at the door, but advance sales cut off tonight. Plus with tickets already in hand, you get to skip the line to buy tickets when you show up at the gate.
There is something for all ages, even young kids, who can check out hands-on activities in the Maker Camp area, build cardboard fortresses in the DIY section, help make giant bubbles, get inspired by young makers, like Super Awesome Sylvia, add Legos to the Lego Jeep, and even pick up some new skills. Accept that you aren’t going to see everything in one day, but that’s okay. Have fun!