Southwest Michigan Maker Faire to return in June

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH — The national festival that made its Southwest Michigan debut last year will return this spring.

The second Southwest Michigan Mini Maker Faire will be from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. June 4 at Whirlpool Centennial Park, 330 Broad St.

Joe Rommel, educational technology consultant for Berrien RESA, said the event will attract three groups of people who create things related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities. Among those groups include hobbyists, educational or professional workers.

“The plan is to connect these three groups to show kids it can be fun and a livelihood to make things,” Rommel said. “We’re asking folks who are engineers or artists that want to come and present or make something with us to get online and submit a form.”

Berrien RESA, Cornerstone Alliance, Kinexus and St. Joseph Today are collaborating to bring the show back to Southwest Michigan. It is licensed through Maker Media.

With less than three months to go, the maker faire is accepting applications for those who wish to show off their craft. The application deadline is April 24.

Stacey Stephens, Cornerstone Alliance director of Investor Relations, said they’re thrilled to be a partner with the maker faire.

“This is our second year with the maker faire and we are glad we can have a hand in shaping tomorrow’s workforce through innovation and creativity,” said Stephens, who is seeking sponsors for the faire. “This works well with Cornerstone Alliance’s goals of working with local manufacturing companies as they continue to expand and thrive.”

Rommel said last year’s maker faire was a success, drawing more than 1,300 people despite rainy weather.

He said they expect attendance to increase, because residents were able to see a maker faire in person last May.

“We’ve proven that the area is ready for it,” Rommel said. “There were over 200 faires worldwide and last year we were one of seven faires to be held that day. It’s nice to know our area is plugged into something larger.”

Maker faires are free to the public and include hands-on demonstrations. One of the highlights last year was the rocket station, Rommel said. Participants made rockets and shot them off with an air compressor.

The event will also include crafting and horticulture activities.

Anyone who wants to apply or is looking for more information can visit the event’s website: swmimakerfaire.com.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on March 8, 2016)

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