Author Topic: Bay Area Maker Faire 2023 Revival Post Mortem  (Read 400 times)

KnotMe

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Bay Area Maker Faire 2023 Revival Post Mortem
« on: October 25, 2023, 11:28:23 PM »
TL;DR
- many young people and teachers were exposed to braiding and TLM, some of which showed interest in learning more
- short of a scout jamboree, Maker Faires are an optimal venue to to attract new blood, especially young people.  Attendants tend to be people inclined towards and handcrafts and not afraid of complexity.
- non-profit demo'ing exhibitors are often free to participate
- there are many Maker Faires around the world and if you are near one you should consider exhibiting.

I am recently returned from the Bay Area Maker Faire 2023 (my first plane trip since COVID began).  I went to see what the revival was like and to help my friends at The Lace Museum run their booth. BAMF2023 was running over 2 weekends for the first time: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for 2 consecutive weeks.  It will be extremely interesting to see their attendance and participation numbers after they're processed.  In a new location, BAMF was much reduced from previous Faires, perhaps a quarter of the size?  Fewer vendors.  Most exhibitors were maker spaces advertising their existence and trying to attract members.  A few of the big maker products like Epilog or XTool were there but much fewer than you'd expect and almost no maker-y startups (not none tho).  Crafter exhibits were also much fewer in number.

Returning to the second weekend as an attendee vs exhibitor, there were fewer exhibitors (many like us had declined to return for the second weekend).  There were a few new replacements, but not as many as did not return.  Going through the entry line as an attendee, there were many many school groups being bussed in for the Faire.  While exhibitor numbers were reduced, no idea if attendance numbers were reduced first weekend to second.

Perhaps because of these factors, plus not being silo'd off into a textile ghetto, The Lace Museum was able to make such a large impact.
1) as a non-profit doing demos, the booth space was free of charge
2) due to the booth size offered and the personnel available TLM chose to exhibit for the first weekend only and offer a fairly simple make and take
3) the demo activity was a fill the gap braid with braiding cards made from recycled cardboard
4) a rainbow of donated yarn was pre-cut and prominently displayed for participants to select their personalized braid components
5) a quick in-person demo plus a printed instruction sheet was offered to each participant
6) returning visitors were offered more yarn and/or an advanced braiding card with new instructions (12 move braid vs 1 move braid)

Some stats and participant details:
1) over 500 braiding cards were distributed over the course of the 1st weekend
2) people with colourful yarn and braiding cards (which they often used while walking about) basically blanketed the Faire, further drawing in more participants to the booth
3) even security personnel who were minding the gates came to seek TLM booth attracted by the braiders they saw leaving
4) participants were as young as 4.5 and all the way up, including one blind participant who returned for more yarn.
5) both boys and girls were attracted by the colours, entire school groups would often descend onto the booth en masse
6) parents often returned to the booth as they were headed home since the braid was seen as a good activity to keep the kids quiet on the trip home
7) of the adult participants, at least a quarter were educators who took notes and advice about how to teach the braid to their students
8) young adult makers who were also exhibiting also popped by the booth several times for more yarn and eventually the advanced braid
9) perhaps 25 people were interested enough to seek out the advanced braid

Prior to the event, I urged both the NAS and PAB to apply to exhibit, but alas they did not.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2023, 11:33:06 PM by KnotMe »

wysper

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Re: Bay Area Maker Faire 2023 Revival Post Mortem
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2023, 01:04:02 AM »
Hello KnotMe,

May I ask what TLM, NAS and PAB are.

Thanks,
Greg


wysper

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Re: Bay Area Maker Faire 2023 Revival Post Mortem
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2023, 09:35:01 PM »
Thank you!

alana

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Re: Bay Area Maker Faire 2023 Revival Post Mortem
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2023, 04:46:11 AM »
great report, KnotMe ! ☺