Southwest Maker Fest Comes to Downtown Mesa

Madison RutherfordFebruary 15, 2020
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Calling all makers! The seventh annual Southwest Maker Fest will bring a cadre of creatives to downtown Mesa on Saturday, February 15.

Attendees of the free event can participate in hands-on activities and experiences, from robotics to rocketry, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Pepper Street between Robson and Macdonald streets in Mesa. The i.d.e.a. Museum will be free for festivalgoers, featuring its newest exhibit, Art of the Story. Guests can also enjoy food, live music and comedy shows.

For the third year, Southwest Maker Fest is partnering with Downtown Mesa Festival of the Arts, a bi-monthly marketplace that will be happening simultaneously on MacDonald Street. Both festivals will create a contiguous experience of more than 100 exhibitors showcasing art, science, sustainability and entrepreneurial spirit.

“The Southwest Maker Fest was really inspired by the idea that it would be great to have a festival that celebrated the broad creative community, to think about making in the broadest possible way,” says Cindy Ornstein, the festival’s co-founder and director of arts and culture for the city of Mesa. “The mission of Southwest Maker Fest is to celebrate, engage and inspire the maker in each of us. The idea is that everybody has the ability to make things and be creative, so we seek to create an environment where we’re engaging makers, we’re inspiring them and we’re celebrating them, and we do that through hands-on engagement with other makers.”

People of all ages are welcome, Ornstein says. She wants to festival to be accessible to everyone.

“A lot of time, adults seem to feel like they need permission to play,” she says. “Southwest Maker Fest is designed to have everyone feel welcome to experiment, to create, to learn.”

Among this year’s exhibitors are Oro Brewing Co., which will offer classes on how they concoct their craft beers. ASU is bringing an augmented reality experience that will showcase what its new building in downtown Mesa will look like.

“People will be able to look at what the building is going to look like, what the inside of the building is going to feel like, and they’re going to be able to give feedback on these spaces because these spaces will not just be for ASU students, they’ll also be for the community,” Ornstein says.

Festivalgoers can also expect fiber arts, fire etching, 3D chalk murals and the opportunity to make their own souvenir T-shirt.

Guests can also participate in a pub crawl that explores Mesa’s microbreweries like Oro Brewing Co. and Chupacabra Tap Room.

Ornstein says the “maker movement” started in California and stemmed from the idea that people wanted to be more self-sufficient.

“People liking the idea of being able to do it for themselves, people liking the idea of recognizing that they can gain new skills and can always be learning new things,” she says. “The other piece of it was around technology. People started realizing how much access they had to creating because of the tools that were now available to the average person that didn’t used to be available to them.”

Ornstein insists that someone doesn’t have to think of themselves as a maker to come to the festival. “When they come, the experiences that they have will validate the fact that they can make things and they can find the creative spark within them.”

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