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Innovation erupts at the Maker Faire this weekend on the Peninsula

They call their event “The Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth.” And judging by the scene on Saturday, day two of this year’s Maker Faire in San Mateo, it lives up to the hype.
Part science fair, part Burning Man-esque arts fest, the Maker Faire may as well be called Do-It-Yourselfers Gone Wild.
“The Faire celebrate the capacity of individuals to create impact in the world,” said Sabrina Merlo, the event’s managing director since 2010. “And it’s happening on a visceral, person-to-person level; it’s not the internet, it’s not video; this is real open -source sculpture.”
First launched in the Bay Area in 2006, the fair is a family-friendly carnival of curiosity, creativity and old-school resourcefulness. Created by publishers Maker Media as a celebration of the Maker movement, this year’s Bay Area three-day show at the San Mateo County Event Center is expected to draw more than 125,000 people before it wraps up Sunday. Now in its 13th year, the Faire has spawned events all over the world, with flagship festivals also held in Detroit and New York City.
On Saturday morning, scores of creative types and their high-energy offspring converged on the fair, a sprawling scene of invention and madcap tinkering, the crowd mesmerized by the hulking metal monsters, the fire-breathing contraptions, and the crazily costumed humans darting to and fro.
“This is left-brain stuff,” said fair spokesman Mark Ballard as he wandered across the innovation landscape, stepping aside to allow one robotic being after another to sidle by. “These are the kinds of folks who love to get out a drill and tear things apart to rebuild them again.”
Rock stars of the DIY world were waiting at every turn. Thirty-five-year-old Danny Scheible brought his Tapigami project – “the art of applying your imagination to masking tape” – and the crowds pressing in to witness his giant Tape City explained why Scheible and his inventions have been a show-stealer year after year.
“I travel the world now and teach people how to make things, using only tape,” said the lanky 34-year-old, standing beside the “City” splayed across the convention center’s cement floor, “And this is only a fourth of the entire City,” he said of the exhibit, which contains 25,000 masking-tape sculptures of every size and shape. “Ten thousand people from all over the world have contributed pieces to it.”
The Maker Faire magic was consuming Bradley Daniels, a 41-year-old lawyer and civil engineer from San Carlos who brought his wife and their two kids to the show for the third year. Last year, son Rhydian, now nearly five years old, was so inspired by the festival’s creative flow that the then-three-year-old went home and built a little caterpillar with battery-operated lights from scratch.
“This is the heart of innovation,” said Daniels as his wife worked on a tape sculpture with their son. “We want to get our kids to think in new ways about the world. This fair opens their eyes to what’s out there.”
The original Maker Faire has morphed into a global enterprise, with both major shows as well as independently-organized events called “Mini Maker Faires” that have sprouted up across the United States, from Ann Arbor to Pittsburgh, Sebastopol to Boston and beyond.
In San Mateo, whose Faire is considered one of the largest in the world, festivities kicked off Friday afternoon with a program devoted to creativity and targeting students from 50 schools around the Bay Area. Over the weekend, visitors can enjoy a mashup of scientific experiments, hobbyists and those who love to tinker. Drawing kids and adults alike, the Faire is a magnet for the creative community, drawing science-club members, startups, writers and artists to show off their stuff.
This year’s event features over 1,200 curated projects across music, art, science, health, robotic and more. Experiences include the very latest in virtual reality, 3D printing and futuristic fashion and this year’s show brings a diverse group of makers and projects from as far away as China, Japan, Italy and Turkey.

The fair is open until 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. You can find more information by visiting: https://makerfaire.com
The magic of Maker Faire, said Ballard, is the “cross pollination” you get by corralling so many creative types together in one space. “It’s what happens when you put a crafts guy next to someone really into robotics. All those people inspire one another to create things that can change the world.
“And the common thread,” he said, “is creativity.”

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