In the beginning, the sidewalks were bare and gray, the cardboard boxes were stacked neatly on the grass and the bottles of Diet Coke and Mentos were carefully kept apart.
But the stillness didn’t last long as families and children wandered through the booths and games at the Thanksgiving Point Mini Maker Faire on Saturday.
The event featured all sorts of interactive exhibits from spinning wool and stuffing cloth dolls to soldering wires and controlling robotics to creating soda geysers and launching bottle rockets.
Near the cardboard extravaganza, Shelly Robertson watched as her 4-year-old daughter, Hazel, picked meticulously through pieces of cardboard and her 7-year-old son, Harvey, crawled through tunnels made with mismatched boxes.
Since she earned a degree in civil engineering, Robertson explained she tries to encourage her kids to build things and make their own creations at their home in Pleasant Grove.
“I’m trying to expose them to STEM things,” she said. Referring to the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. “It’s fun to come to things like this where you find really unique and interesting ideas you don’t always get exposed to at school.”
On the other side of the park, creators set up booths and tables under a pavilion where kids could build their own Lego derby cars, tinker with Perler beads or gawk at elaborate costumes and cosplay.
Tamsin, 9, and Eliza Taylor, 6, from Lehi, giggled and grinned as they spent more than an hour racing slot cars around an electric track.
“I love all things STEM,” their father, Karl Taylor said. “My kids have shown an interest in those things, and I’m not going to try and railroad them but if I can encourage them, I’m not going to stop that.”
His wife, Megan Taylor, agreed and laughed when she discovered their youngest daughter brought her pink calculator to the event inside the pocket of her overalls.
“I would love for my kids to learn how to do all these things. If I could’ve been a kid now,” Karl Taylor said, trailing off with a smile.
The purpose of the event is to give people an opportunity to create, said Katie Zackrison, the signature experience manager at Thanksgiving Point.
This year is the second annual event and she carefully situated each vendor or display across the park to give each maker space to create and diminish any crowding.
“It has been so much fun to see,” Zackrison said. “Being at a place like this where you can see people and do it yourself and see what other people have done and think, ‘I could do that.’”
Volunteers at the Salt Lake City nonprofit Bags to Beds helped kids weave plastic bags together in order to make mats to distribute to homeless individuals in Salt Lake County.
Emily Voll said event organizers reached out to her and the other volunteers and invited them to present at the Mini Maker Faire.
“It’s really cool to see all the creativity at this fair,” she said. “We’ve connected with a lot of different people and walking around and seeing the little things being done has been awesome.”
Nearby, Gregor Grenier and his two daughters, 6-year-old Kaya and 2-year-old Halle, patiently soldered a battery together with a small light. Their family had fun at the event last year and decided to come again.
“For them, it’s seeing all the different little stuff. They like to touch things and see different things. For me, it’s fun to see the creativity,” Grenier said. “I think it shows that STEM is really important because we don’t get anywhere without building and trying and experimenting.”