Families flooded the Kerr Scott Building at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds Saturday for Maker Faire North Carolina, billed as "a celebration of everything made."
Hundreds of "makers" demonstrated projects that ranged from a fuel cell car built by high school students to T-shirt designs created with bleach and stencils.
"These are people who have done something really creative and fringe, but to date it has only lived in their garage," said Maker Faire NC Director Jon Danforth.
He and a staff of eight select exhibitors from among applicants with an eye to innovative projects, even if they lack commercial value.
"They are citizen scientists, ecology hackers," Danforth said.
He expected the diverse displays would draw more than 5,000 people.
"This is our chance to talk to people who have been consumers their whole lives and we can teach them how to start making something," said Kevin Gunn, maker coordinator.
"When we do that, it unleashes them!"
By noon, more than 300 people, ages 5 and up, had learned to solder and sported LED-powered "blinky bots," lapel pins with a small, blinking light.
Outside, members of NC Near Space Research prepared and launched a weather balloon carrying a payload of two video cameras and a still camera. They then tracked the balloon via GPS on its flight to a landing spot near Raeford. They hope the images produced will show images of earth's horizon from near space.
Inside, Makers showed textiles, electronics, bee keeping, soap making, woodworking and robot battles.
"We hope to preserve the old knowledge and apply it to a modern lifestyle," Gunn said.
Maker Faire NC and other local faires across the country are organized locally by volunteer enthusiasts and loosely associated with a movement that started about seven years ago in Silicon Valley. The event is in its third year in the Triangle.
Danforth, who works for Kontek Systems in Durham, said about 85 percent of the Makers in attendance Saturday were local.