LAFAYETTE, La. (The Daily Advertiser) – In just four years of existence, the Steampunk & Makers Fair has caught the eye of the Southeast Tourism Society and is named a Top 20 Event for the Southeast for November.
The fair celebrates its fourth year with an expanded schedule, from one to two days, Nov. 5-6, at Parc International.
The Steampunk and Makers Fair is part costume play, science and county fair. It is an all-ages festival hosted by Cité des Arts and the Lafayette Science Museum to showcase and celebrate science, technology, education, art and mathematics.
“It’s a great festival — unique. It brings interesting clientele to Lafayette,” said Jim Phillips, cofounder/volunteer of the Steampunk & Makers Fair with Christy Leichty and Maureen Brennan. “We’ve tried to showcase local innovation and local art,” he said. “Again, it’s a marriage between art and science, and it’s for real.”
The expansion of the festival, according to Phillips, is a result of collaboration with the Lafayette Science Museum, the Lafayette Public Library (main branch), and several departments at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
“Specifically and foremost, the industrial and architectural design departments,” he said. “I really feel like that has been the icing for our steampunk and makers cake. There’s been a lot of collaboration between organizations.”
It was the second year was when Makers was added to the festival and resulted in new sponsors, “who are involved in fabrication and manufacturing,” said Phillips, citing Begnaud Manufacturing and Noble Plastics, “they’re so much a part of the design group that comes out of the university.”
Phillips said the festival has brought different downtown entities together “and it just sort of sparked models of how they could connect,” he said. “Now, it’s great. The downtown science museum is actively a part of several departments at the university; the downtown library has a Makers Space.
“It’s great; just really good stuff,” said Phillips.
The Makers portion of the fair came after the inaugural event.
“I believe makers has much more potential for a community festival for education, tourism, and for bringing really smart and creative people here,” said Phillips. “I love the makers’ idea.”
Phillips said he has stepped away from running the event and turned it over to Chad LaComb.
“I’ve let go of it a lot – the festival,” he said. “My heart is definitely there. I’m really proud of what’s come out of it. But in order for it to grow, it needed some new energy.
“What’s great is its being expanded to two days,” said Phillips. “It is expanding. It’ll be fun just to see where it goes.”
The STS Top 20 Festival and Event Awards have highlighted programs around the Southeast since 1985. Travel industry experts select 20 events per month, and STS publicizes them throughout the United States.