Regional Maker Faire stimulates innovation

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – It’s happening across the country and it’s happening in Fort Wayne.  The Maker movement encompasses all kinds of making, including technology, art, mechanics, music, textiles, physics and toys. Makers generally are driven to make things, and may not need a lot of encouragement, but a local nonprofit, TekVenture, is creating a space where more makers can have access to tools, training and a community of makers.  TekVenture Board Member and Fort Wayne Maker Faire Event Producer, Jane Applegate answers the question why does Fort Wayne need TekVenture.  She says “as schools continue to reduce art and technology education programs, kids do not have the chance to get their hands on tools.  With time, this issue has started to impact the workforce in terms of ensuring industry has a qualified employment pool from which to hire.  TekVenture is vital to our community as we not only offer the space for projects and tools for making them, we also offer mentor-ship from people with years of experience and fellowship with other like-minded people.”

The Fort Wayne Regional Maker Faire is now in its fourth year and is a natural expression of the creativity that TekVenture helps to emerge.  It features two days of local and regional makers who showcase what they do and provide some kind of interactive element.  Guests can make and take projects as they create, learn and experience.  It will be held at Headwaters Park East on Saturday, September 13, and Sunday, September 14, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  The Faire is a fundraiser for TekVenture.  Admission is $10 for age 15 and up, $7 for kids age 5 to 14, or $30 for a family at the door, but discounted tickets of $8 for age 15 and up, $5 for kids age 5 to 14 or $24 for a family pack are available online in advance.

Mini Maker Challenges  and Tinker Town are designed for kids, but this faire is for makers of all ages.  Learn to weld in the Welding Arena, see if you can stay dry on the Wet Swing Set, watch innovation in action as The Power Racing Series (PRS) returns to Fort Wayne for the Faire.  Power Racing participants modify electric kid’s cars within PRS guidelines and compete through challenges. They will hold a national points race here on the way to the World Maker Faire in New York later this month.  Also returning will be the Swatch-O-Rama. Textile artists are encouraged to clean out their craft drawers (fabric, threads, yarns, needles, paper, stamps) and swap those items for someone else’s treasure. Local food vendors will offer edibles to purchase and live musical entertainment is scheduled throughout the faire.

TekVenture started this big idea in a small way as it searched for a location in downtown Fort Wayne.  It first found space and a partnership with the Allen County Public Library to house the TekVenture Maker Station, a 50 foot trailer where workshops are taught.  That partnership is ongoing and this summer TekVenture announced a bigger “home” at the former American Sweeper Company at 1800 South Broadway.  The building is undergoing changes to optimize the space for tools, materials, mentors and storage.  Applegate has called it “Fort Wayne’s only art and technology lab where the public can engage with traditional to digitally-controlled tools for turning 2-D concepts into actual 3-D projects and objects.” TekVenture will sell memberships to students, families, individuals and seniors.