Fifth annual West Virginia Makes Festival

Marshall University’s Memorial Student Center was filled with creations from a variety of entrepreneurs at the fifth annual West Virginia Makes Festival Friday, Oct. 5. Artists, entrepreneurs and innovators set up booths and displayed their works to the Huntington community with live music from The Dividends, and the event was presented by the Robert C. Byrd Institute.

Jamie Cope, deputy director of RCBI, said the festival was created to be on the first Friday in October every year because it is National Manufacturing Day, and the festival’s goal is to enable the work of manufacturers and artists.

“The idea behind the WV Makes Festival is to inspire people to create and support those who are creating, and the long term goal is for that to spur onto entrepreneurship and then eventually even manufacturing,” Cope said.

Cope said makers fairs are popular worldwide, but they created a makers festival in order to be able to give cash prizes to their participants so they can expand on their work.

“Maker fairs are big all over the world, and in order to participate in those you cannot have cash awards,” Cope said. “So we are not a formal maker fair, we are a makes festival. And we gave out seven cash awards, ranging from $350 to $150 that they can buy more equipment with.”

Cope said the festival is intended for people of all ages, and it gives participants a chance to show off their work in a mannerly fashion.

“A lot of them are just as interested in what their peers think as what the judges think,” Cope said. “So they can come here with bragging rights, and it’s all very friendly. And the technology that’s available out there is impressive to students everywhere, whether they are in college or elementary or not students at all. There is a lot of learning to be done.”

Cope said creating the festival is a group effort from community members and students they have worked with in the past.

“This festival is primarily built on relationships and word of mouth; RCBI works with innovators and manufacturers from all over,” Cope said. “Many people contributing have participated in our early stage funding opportunities.”

John Holbrook, a computer science major at Ohio University, said he found out about the festival by working with RCBI when he was younger, and the festival allows him to network and present his robot.

“I get to exhibit my project which is some software to control a small robot over the internet with attached video feeds, while meeting lots of interesting people from a lot of different areas,” Holbrook said.

Andrew Burgess, junior graphic design and math education major at Marshall, said he creates and sales painting and graphics with his sister, and the festival gives him a chance to sell his artwork.

“I saw it last year and the year before ever since I came to Marshall, and it seemed like a great opportunity to start selling my art, so I got involved,” Burgess said. “And I enjoy seeing all the peoples amazing art work and creations and the atmosphere surrounding it all.”

Burgess said the festival gives him motivation to do create more artwork because of the enlightening environment.

“This festival gives me inspiration to do more art with the positivity from everyone sharing their thoughts and feelings,” Burgess said.

Lillie Bodie can be contacted at [email protected].