he Powhatan Public Library and Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Powhatan office hosted the community’s first Maker festival on February 21. In spite of the wintry weather, more than 725 people visited the library that day and it was estimated that at least half came to take part in the event. The event was a joint collaboration of the library director, Powhatan 4-H Extension agent, and Virginia’s 4-H Maker Educator, Paul Lambert.
“I’ve never seen such community support for a Maker festival,” said Lambert who has helped develop festivals in Hanover and surrounding areas. The Maker approach allows youth to do the making and creating, so once participants got started they didn’t want to leave. Families came and stayed, moving from one activity to another. For the event, Lambert provided a 3-D printer, wind turbines, K’nex, LEGOs, 3-D paper airplanes, and Snap Circuit kits for the public to experiment with. Through a Virginia 4-H Foundation grant, Powhatan 4-H office was able to provide 30 take-home kits for workshops offered, including solar-powered boats, robots, and flying disks. A Chesterfield robot club also brought a robot and allowed children to operate it by remote control. The club leader, a Powhatan resident, wanted to generate interest locally to start a new club. Another local volunteer, Arthur Jenkins, provided milling equipment to demonstrate metal working.