Union Station is one of my favorite things to go see in Kansas City. It is remarkable how they were able to save, restore and breathe new life into such a historic building. I like going to Union Station because there are always fun and exciting activities and exhibits happening. One of me and my boyfriend’s first dates was catching a movie at the Extreme Screen Theater and we still drive up there to watch movies from time to time.
I have forced my enthusiasm for Union Station on to my boyfriend and his kids. We try to catch every traveling exhibit that Union Station hosts and sometimes we take the streetcar to Union Station just to people watch (Pro Tip: take the elevator to one of the balconies during Christmas to get the best view of their Christmas decorations and watch family photo meltdowns). In fact, for my birthday the main thing I wanted to do was to go to Union Station to see their new outdoor art installation “Reflecting Motion.”
However, our favorite event Union Station hosts is Maker Faire in Mid-June. Last year, we decided at the last minute to go, not knowing a lot about the event other than it was some kind of convention and we love that kind of thing. And holy moly were we blown away. If you have ever been to Union Station, you know how huge it is. It is 850,000-square-feet huge. Somehow, Maker Faire takes up almost the entire station and its two front parking lots. It was honestly overwhelming for the first half an hour or so. No matter which direction we turned or walked there were more exhibits.
The whole purpose of Maker Faire is to celebrate things people make themselves. But this is not a normal arts and craft show. There is a large tented art and craft area but there are also a series of Tesla coils of varying sizes, a variety of homemade robots, homemade R2-D2s, people in crafted costumes, etc. There are movie special effects you can interact with like jumping off a building, having your photo taken in front of a car that’s exploding, etc. There are drone races, robot competitions and go-carts.
One of the best parts of Maker Faire is that many of the stations and booths have make-and-take creations you can participate in either for free or low cost. My boyfriend’s daughter and I made our cats matching light-up bowties for $2. It is a fun, interactive event for all ages and interests.
Honestly, Maker Faire is overwhelming for a lot of reasons. The size and scale of the event are intense. Last year we spent about four hours there and I know for a fact that we did not see or experience everything. It is also overwhelming in an impressive way to see what people are capable of doing and making. It was great seeing the passion for their respective arts and creations from the vendors. They seemed genuinely excited to share what they know and teach kids of all ages how they too can create things.
Humans are an inventive and creative species and Maker Faire absolutely highlights the best aspects of that.
So, If you get a chance, head up to Union Station the weekend of June 22 and check out Maker Faire, or check out Union Station any time during the year for a great day trip.