Maker Faire 2011, San Mateo: Wrap-Up

This was my third year attending Maker Faire and helping at the GeekDad booth (this year, the GeekDad/GeekMom booth!). Every year is different. Our booth and the Faire have only grown each year, but the experience has also been fundamentally different each time.

The first year I attended (2009), we had a lot of things to hand out and to give away as prizes, and had a very Lego-centric booth. We did a lot of explaining about what GeekDad was, and handed out neat Wired items. It was the first time I ever worked a booth, and it was an incredibly positive experience.

My second year (2010) had more things to give away as prizes, but fewer to just hand out. It was still an amazing time since even more GeekDads made the trip out. But people kept asking, “But what about GeekMom?”

This year, the Faire experience was different. I spent most of my time safely ensconced in the booth, away from the intense crowds. I had the great company of even more GeekDads and GeekMoms (including our own Natania Barron and Cathe Post), plus great GeekDad families that came along for the fun. Bonnie Burton even stopped by to say hello. But the highlight for me was meeting and getting to know our special guests, John Kovalic and Bob Boyle. Both spent much time at the booth drawing cartoons for visitors and being generally charming.

From left, sitting at the table: Jonathan Liu, Bob Boyle, and John Kovalic. Photo: Jenny Williams

In addition to their cartooning prowess, we also had GeekDad Jonathan Liu dazzling everyone (including the aforementioned cartoonists) with his Etch-a-Sketch artwork. At other booth stations, we had Lego building, game playing, ThinkGeek music toys, Hexbugs, electronics (courtesy of DigiKey), and plenty of GeekMom and GeekDad merchandise for sale. We also shared the booth area with Chris Anderson and his UAV group.

Maker Faire is always an exhausting but exhilarating experience. The people we met were all either interested in learning about our GeekParenting empire, or were showering us with praise for the work we do. At least those who could get through to our booth. The crowd at the Faire has grown to a size where it is a bit of a detriment to enjoyment, but with some patience, it is still worth going.

I know my fellow GeekMoms and GeekDads will echo my sentiments: Maker Faire is a great time. There is something for everyone, and it is fun, educational, and exciting. If you couldn’t make it out to the annual “flagship” event in San Mateo, California, this year there will be a GeekMom/GeekDad booth at Maker Faire NY in September! Visit the Maker Faire website for details!

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Jenny Bristol is an Editor at GeekDad and a founding Director at GeekMom. She is a lifelong geek who spends her time learning, writing, homeschooling her two wickedly smart kids, losing herself in history, and mastering the art of traveling on a shoestring.