Dubbed “the greatest show (and tell) on earth” by organizers, the Portland Mini Maker Faire (which returned Sept. 7–8, 2019) blends science and technology with arts and crafts in an interactive two-day event held every September. Projects like 3D printing, robot welding, knife forging, bee keeping, R2-D2 replica robots, sand sculptures and jewelry crafted from recycled skateboards showcase Portland’s wide-ranging DIY culture.
“There’s something for everyone at the Maker Faire,” says event director Andrea Edgecombe. “It inspires creativity and innovation.”
What is a Maker Faire?
Launched in 2012, Portland’s Maker Faire is held at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). It’s one of many independently licensed Mini Maker Faires modeled after flagship events in New York and California.
Regional makers of all stripes, including scientists, engineers, artists and craftspeople, are invited to apply to participate. Makers are encouraged to create interactive experiences for attendees. “Most of the booths have something that the guests can make or do,” says Edgecombe. “Our biggest focus is being hands-on.”
At workshops, stage presentations and more than 100 booths, attendees can learn the process behind creative projects from the makers themselves. In 2017, for example, attendees collaborated with Oregon Potters Association members to sculpt objects that reflected Northwest culture. (The pieces were exhibited in Portland’s sister city Sapporo, Japan in 2018.) At the MapleXO booth, attendees made key chains from recycled skateboards while learning about the importance of reusing materials, and discovered the steps to satellite making from members of the Portland State Aerospace Society.
“The Faire brings all these communities together in one place,” says Edgecombe. “Where OMSI comes in is that process of innovation and design and design thinking, of trying and failing and trying again — that’s critical to science and experimentation.”
Geared toward families (particularly those with elementary-aged kids) but enjoyed by all ages, the Faire is entertaining and educational. Everywhere you look, you’re bound to find something surprising, whether it’s a futuristic ‘bot, a wacky steam-punk creation or the Walking Beast (a giant, moving metal spider).
Tickets & transportation
One-day tickets to the Faire are typically $16 for adults and $10 for youth (3-13) and seniors (63+). Workshops are free with ticket, unless otherwise noted. Tickets can be purchased online or at the event.
Parking is limited, so Faire organizers encourage attendees to carpool or use public transit. Both the MAX Orange Line and Portland Streetcar stop at OMSI.