Gulf Coast MakerCon 2016, wrapped up Saturday, April 9, as our biggest and most successful event yet. The whole idea of the event is to create an opportunity to network and share skills, crafts, ideas, and innovations born and raised in our Florida Gulf Coast communities, and that’s exactly what we did.
As an independent and growing community Maker festival, Gulf Coast MakerCon is a DIY experience start to finish, a Maker Party hosted by the makers, a tinkerers potluck, a crazy quilt of fun, wonder and innovation that keeps alive the American spirit of curiosity driven ingenuity, playfulness, and exploration.
Our exhibitors showcased the inventive can-do spirit that characterizes the best of free-spirited 21st century innovation – unique uses of materials, and design processes, local inventors, unusual crafts and different applications of traditional skills and trades. It was the ultimate Makers Variety Show!
Makers Variety Show
This year, nearly 100 exhibitors, comprising over 400 Makers, plus Combot robotics teams and Electrathon race teams, filled the Special Events Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds with robots, 3D printers, amazing art, skilled craft, games, music, electric race cars and so much more.
More than 500 guests came through the gate throughout the day, browsing Maker wares and exploring everything from drones to coffee making.
We had a lot of new things to see and do at MakerCon this year, with more interactive experiences including cosplay laser tag by Night Heron Productions, a Gaming Expo hosted by Armada Games, with charity gaming tournaments by Gamers on the Edge, and fun competitions for both exhibitors and guests. We held our first ever Gulf Coast MakerCon Costume Plank Walk, and Best Booth competitions for Makers. There were 34 Combat Robotics robots competing in the Southeast Combot Championship, and over a dozen Electrathon race cars competing in two races, University of South Florida exhibits showcasing student inventions and innovations, drones display, Heritage Crafters like blacksmiths and woodworkers, and Makerspace exhibitors.
For younger kids, the Deconstruction Zone provided a fun opportunity for youth to disassemble and learn about electronic devices under the supervision of event partner e-Smart Recycling. For the young at heart, playfully inclined,and inventively minded, there was tabletop and video games, drones, avionics and aerospace displays, mechanical and electrical exhibits, battling robots and strategic robots, electric race cars to cheer on and check out, hands on activities to try out, inventions to examine, and a huge variety of skills, trades and resources to learn about.
Eureka Factory is proud to organize and produce Gulf Coast MakerCon each year, but can’t do it without all the great collaborative partners and volunteers that Make MakerCon happen!
Among our event partners this year was AlligatorZone™ bringing entrepreneurial inventors on stage to share with makers of all ages an enjoyable way to participate in local innovation. AlligatorZone™ kicked things off at MakerCon with “A Conversation with Ron Klein“, the inventor of the Magnetic Strip on credit cards, Credit Card Validity Checking System and the developer of computerized systems for Real Estate (MLS) Multiple Listing Services, among other innovations. Ron was followed by Tracy Ingram, creator of BioScanR, a real life tricorder device to assist in real time diagnosis and monitoring of different medical conditions.
The day couldn’t have been more beautiful, perfect weather for flying, driving , blacksmithing, gardening and amateur radio, all of which were on display around the Special Events Center by various groups sharing their trades, skills and interests. And the Tampa Music School kept things cheery with the Show Steelers youth kettle drum band.
This year’s Makerspace UnConference was our biggest ever, with representation from over a dozen Gulf Coast area makerspaces, including four public library makerspaces, public school makerspaces and several membership based community makerspaces and hackerspaces. It’s exciting to see the growth of all these creative public spaces making access to tools and resources available to so many!
We’re very grateful to the Florida High Tech Corridor, Frontier Communications, TECO Energy, NXP/AVENT and Sensible Micro Corporation for event sponsorship this year.
Thank you, too, to our fantastic event volunteers, to Studio 7 Communications for creating graphic design and promotional support for MakerCon, to Mity Mo Creative for our program design, and to Sonic Print for donating program and other printing support for our event. Thank you again to F5Live:Refreshing Technologies for providing live event coverage again this year.
Many thanks to Sam McAmis for organizing the Southeast Combot Championship, to Electrathon of Tampa Bay for organizing a super exciting race this year, to the Tampa Bay Inventors Council for supporting year round and helping staff the MakerCon promo booth during the State Fair.
Very special thanks to the Florida State Fair Authority and the wonderful staff at the Fairgrounds whose exemplary customer service and beautiful facilities make Gulf Coast MakerCon shine, indoors and out!
The fun’s not done, though! Starting this month, you can enjoy in person networking, learning and making, throughout the rest of the year with our new Gulf Coast Makers Meetup group. Join us as we take Gulf Coast Makers on the road, visiting local Makerspaces, maker groups and enjoying a variety of events and programs.
So join in at the MeetUp group, follow on our social media and check back here for news and stories all year long.
Oh – and Save the Date! Gulf Coast MakerCon 2017 will be April 8! Click HERE to get on the mailing list for our 2017 event, so you’re first in line when we open up our Exhibitors Application at the end of 2016!