LEWISTON — Lewiston-Auburn’s Mini-Makers Faire — Saturday’s stew of windmills, thumb pianos, spinning wheels and self-inflating puppets — will be back again next year.

“There’s no question,” organizer Rachel Desgrosseilliers said at the event’s closing. “It’s going to be bigger and better.”

For days, she’d been trying to lower expectations about the event’s likely success, in case no one came.

“It’s the first year,” she said. “You don’t know.”

However, even before the Bates Mill atrium opened to attendees Saturday morning, about 200 people had bought advance tickets. Then, for three hours, people steadily flowed in.

By 2:30 p.m., the total reached about 450.

On the top floor, displays detailed how shoes are hand-sewn and toys can be handmade from little more than a block of wood and a bunch of nails.

Nearby, dozens gathered to watch and control a robot game of three-on-three basketball.

Diana Sullivan of Minot brought her family after reading about the mixture of presenters and makers.

“It’s been fascinating,” she said, searching for words to describe her reaction to the faire’s eclectic mission. A minute later she stood watching four robots work a makeshift basketball court.

Ashton Paquin from Gardiner High School’s robotics team worked a pair of joysticks that resembled the 1980s “Battlezone” arcade game. His team’s robot, “4041,” struggled to get in position beneath a pair of hoops set at different heights.

“I’ve got three baskets,” he said coolly.

Instructor Aaron Basford said the students on the team have begun working after school most afternoons and on Saturdays to be ready for a robotics competition scheduled for March at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.

Other displays represented years of work.

MIT graduate Ben Polito of Gorham used the event to show off a version of the windmill that his company, Pike Energy, plans to begin selling next year to residential buyers. The cost will be $8,000 to $9,000 and, in most cases, will produce about half the electricity a home needs.

“We’re going to be on the market,” said Polito, 36. “People are interested here. For us, this is visibility.”

On a more personal level, the MIT graduate said he was pleased by the event’s ability to encourage invention and creativity.

“Innovation is really what drives this economy,” he said.

Across the hall, Scott Currie of South Paris showed off his own windmills. Unlike Polito’s, which resembled high-tech aircraft engines, Currie’s creations were largely assembled from scraps of metal and electronic junk he collected at a nearby dump.

Currie, who makes his living as a potter, began building windmills while working as an adviser to a class at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School. It led him to learn about generating electricity and the need for both wind and solar power. At the faire, he floated the idea of merging the two power sources in a single appliance.

If it were funded with enough investment money, a factory might occupy a vacant building in his hometown. Such jobs are desperately needed, he said.

“The jobs that people used to work in have all been outsourced,” he said.

It’s the kind of sentiment heard again and again.

“There’s all this creativity here,” said Stephen Voltz, who helped organize the faire and performed in its finale. Voltz and Fritz Grobe of Buckfield perform as EepyBird. The guys, known for their Diet Coke and Mentos act, have been attending and performing at makers faires for years, sometimes in front of massive crowds.

This local area has plenty of creative people, but there are too few opportunities for everyone to get together, he said.

“It can be very isolating,” he said. “But when you get together, it all comes bubbling out.”

He imagines creating a technology incubator on one of the local mill buildings.

“It should be here,” he said, standing outside the massive Bates Mill complex. “This community has such a great tradition of making stuff.”

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