Mini Maker Faires follow the larger Maker Faires in spirit and theme, and range in scale from intimate, 15-maker showcases to larger, city-wide and regional events featuring up to 150 Makers. We believe Maker Faire can succeed at different levels of scale.
Three components of scale are number of Makers, number of attendees and capacity of the venue. All of these impact the budget of your event. In general, you should value the quality of the Makers over the quantity. We’ve found that the number of makers participating will grow year to year.
Here’s a depiction of the varying scale of “Minis:”
|Makers||10 to 30||35 to 70||75 to 150|
|Venue||1 room||1 building or tent||multiple bldgs|
|Attendees||300-2000||500-3000||2500 to 6K|
|Length of Event||2 to 3 hours||6 to 8 hours||8 hours|
|Core Organizing Team||1||2||3 to 5|
|Additional Organizing Team||3 to 5||5 to 10||30 to 50+|
|Production Lead Time||3 months||6 months||12 months|
|Budget||under 10K||5K to 25K||20K to 100K|
|Marketing||very limited||some, perhaps through mother event||dedicated|
Five Considerations for a Maker Faire
Before deciding to organize a Maker Faire, consider each of the following areas. This will help you complete the Mini Maker Faire Application.
Maker Faire is truly a co-creation. It’s a collaboration of many people, especially makers, who each contribute to the event. However, Maker Faire also requires a strong person or core group with the vision and passion to create the context for all this to happen. Maker Faire requires extensive preparation and planning in advance of the event and complex coordination with a larger team during the event. At the same time of pushing through production logistics and details, that leadership team must continue to hold and drive towards this higher level picture of what makes a successful Maker Faire.
Just about any scale of a Mini Maker Faire will require a host or partner organization. As soon as you begin to organize a venue rental, it will become clear that an entity will need to take the responsibility for signing on the dotted line. Ideally, this is a community-based non-profit. It could be a school, a library, museum or science center.
An existing organization may bring valuable infrastructure in the following areas:
- Marketing and promotion
- Payment processing
- Receiver of money from grants or sponsorship
- A pool of volunteers
- Access to existing relationships in the community
- Relevant experience from hosting other events
Yet, it’s also important that Maker Faire not be defined in a limiting way by that organization’s mission and goals. Maker Faire needs to reflect the community’s culture in a very inclusive way. Even with a host organization, as many decisions as possible should reflect community involvement from lots of different groups. It’s key to their participation. Organizers of Maker Faire can help these groups reach important goals. For instance, a hobbyist club may have a goal of recruiting new members; a science center may have outreach programs that they’d like to bring to those who don’t already go to the center. In fact, leveraging the different audiences, network and resources of several groups can really help your event succeed—especially when it comes to developing an extended community of volunteers behind you to physically produce and staff the event. But keep in mind that one organization will need to step up as the business lead.
Your venue is the “frame” of your event. The design and feel of the space hugely influences the experience for Makers and guests. We have organized Maker Faire at public fairgrounds, science centers and history museums. Each venue has its own character and resonance.
Consider the following in choosing a location:
- Indoor and outdoor space
- Accessible restrooms
- Sufficient parking nearby
- Required permits
- Convenient access for families and safe surroundings
- Good load-in access for trucks, etc.
- Electricity and Internet access
- Protection from inclement weather
Some Mini Maker Faires have been co-located with other events. The host event can often take care of logistics and promotion, helping to provide access to an audience and reducing costs. A venue that requires rental fees will become one of your largest expenses.
Date and Time
Typically, Mini Maker Faires are single-day events, usually a Saturday or a Sunday, and they run from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Some run longer. Most take place in nice weather to take advantage of the outdoors.
In selecting a date, determine the best time of year for your event and, of course, avoid important holidays and other local events that might compete against yours. Ask the venue or host for available dates and consider how long in advance you must book the venue.
Make sure to allow sufficient time in advance to organize the event. As a rule of thumb, allow six months of planning for an average 25-maker first-year event. Allow a year for events with 50-100 makers.
Mini Maker Faires have been produced with a budget as little as $3K and well over $100K. Of course, each event will be different. Some find sponsors or sell tickets to underwrite costs. Sometimes the host organization contributes to cover costs. In-kind sponsors can donate supplies and equipment to reduce costs.
It’s important to create a budget that identifies what resources are available to you and their associated costs. If nothing else, have a budget number as an initial target. Up-front costs you might have include:
- Venue rental
- Furniture rental (at a minimum, tables and chairs)
- Design and printing of marketing collateral
- Equipment rentals
- Website and social media development
- License Fee
You’ll likely need local sponsors to underwrite the event but it is not always easy to find funding.
There are some risks from a number of factors including weather, which could affect turnout.
A first-year Maker Faire could very well lose money. Plan carefully and create a budget to estimate income and expenses. Make sure you have a core team member devoted to tracking costs and managing revenue.