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Meet Your Maker at the Maker Faire

This weekend’s event is expected to bring 100,000 do-it-yourself fans to the San Mateo County Event Center.

It started out humbly enough: “Make” magazine, published for fans of the do-it-yourself movement, decided to hold an event to celebrate the crafters, designers and builders – or as they like to call them, the “makers” – among us.

That was six years ago, and the first-ever Maker Faire debuted in the same place it’s held today, at the in San Mateo.

What organizers may not have expected is how quickly the Maker Faire has grown in the six years since. About 100,000 people are expected to visit the two-day event this weekend, there to see nearly 800 maker entries – everything from Burning Man installations to arts-and-crafts booths to the Stanford solar car project.

“We do a better job of taking over the fairgrounds than the (county) fair does,” notes “Maker in Chief” Sherry Huss, who is in charge of Make magazine’s division which puts on the Maker Faire, and is responsible for organizing the event.

But instead of “pigs and pie,” Huss says, this fair is about “rockets and robots.”

“It’s really becoming a pretty significant and really important event,” Huss said, adding that makers will be arriving from “Tokyo, Australia, New Zealand, London, Holland” – and nearly everywhere else.

More locally, makers can be found in nearly every Peninsula city. For a full list of makers, including their specialty, place of origin and where their booth will be located during the event, visit the Maker Faire website.

Huss says that the Sebastopol-based company that publishes Make magazine has great faith in the do-it-yourself, or DIY, crowd.

“Our goal is to make makers,” she said. “We suspect innovation in the future is going to come more from makers than from any large corporation.”

They seem to be meeting that goal – but they’re also drawing quite a crowd. To beat the traffic, Caltrain is recommending event-goers take the trains to the Hillsdale Station. Shuttle buses from the station will also be offered on both days.

Of course, the surest way to make makers may be to reach out to the younger generation, and Huss says the organizers have been doing just that, with kid-friendly booths, workshops to appeal to both genders, and plenty of hands-on activities.

Maker Faire organizers are also hosting an at the Event Center on Friday, May 20, giving students a preview of some of the exhibits as this year's Maker Faire is being set up for the weekend. That event is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and sign-ups are required.

What: The 2011 Maker Faire
Where: , 1346 Saratoga Dr., San Mateo
When: Saturday, May 21, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, May 22, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: Tickets are $10 to $25 per day; click here for details

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