Why you should be excited for Maker Faire Detroit (and how you can win tickets)

Scroll to bottom of this page for details on how you can win a free pair of tickets to this year's Maker Faire Detroit at The Henry Ford.

On July 25 and 26 at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, the sixth annual Maker Faire Detroit will feature around 300 makers who will interact with thousands of attendees through exhibits, events, and talks.

Started by Make: magazine, the first Maker Faire was held in San Mateo, California in 2006. The event has since spread across the country with independently produced festivals showcasing regional maker talent.

The term maker encompasses a wide cross section of people whose interests and products are diverse. The only definite feature of a maker is that they make things.

"I incorporate something new into my definition every day," says Shauna Wilson, senior manager of national events for The Henry Ford. "A 'maker' can run the gamut from someone who makes unique crafts, foods, or robotics, to people who hack technology to make something different and unique. They can be entrepreneurs, inventors, or hobbyists."

Some makers get together and find support through collectives called makerspaces.

"Makerspaces can expose people to new tools and technology," says Kristen Gallerneaux, curator of communication and information technology at The Henry Ford. "But they are also inclusive and collaborative, with shared access to tools that people might otherwise find unaffordable...When you 'learn by doing,' creativity flourishes."

It's especially appropriate that Detroit's faire is held at The Henry Ford, a museum celebrating America's "original" makers, from Henry Ford and Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

"Detroit is special because the makers of the past are a backdrop to the makers of today," says Wilson. "It's something that's truly unique to our faire."

What's new this year at Maker Faire Detroit

This year there will be 75 first-time makers participating in Maker Faire Detroit, the largest number since the event's inception. Wilson says that a third of this year's first-time participants were attracted to the faire as visitors before realizing that they, too, were makers.

At Maker Faire Detroit, attendees are more than just spectators -- they get the opportunity to engage with makers and interact with exhibits. One such exhibit is a three-story Hot Wheels track constructed by by local engineer Matt West and his son Blade. The track's loop has the potential to set a new world record for length.

In the case of "Astroliner," another father-son team reprogrammed an '80s arcade game to simulate a rocket ship that can hold 25 passengers. At the other end of the spectrum, the Great Lakes Beadworkers Guild, in conjunction with celebrity craft guru Matt Montano, will conduct live crafting demos.

As if all the exhibits weren't enough, there are also events and talks. Cirque Mechanics, which blends acrobatics and dance with mechanical apparati, will stage multiple performances. Dara Dotz will speak about her organization, Field Ready, which uses technology for disaster relief. In Haiti, Dotz and her team are working with local organizations to make and repair medical equipment using a 3D printer.

Readers of Metromode and Model D will be familiar with two of the presentations by members of Detroit's maker community happening Sunday, July 26. First, O.N.E. Mile's reconstructed version of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic's iconic Mothership will be on display for participants to explore. (Read Model D's story on O.N.E. Mile's Mothership here.) Later in the afternoon, Phreddy Wischusen of maker community Ponyride will lead a panel of Detroit makers in discussing "the material/social/spiritual architecture needed to make a makerspace work for makers."

Finally, be sure to stop by the booth Model D and Metromode are co-hosting with Build Institute and three of that program's graduates: Motor City Soap, Firebrand Candles, The D The Jewelry.

Want to attend Maker Faire Detroit for free? The first eight readers to tweet #MakerFaireDetroit to @ModelD will score a pair of tickets. Hurry!