LEWISTON — Many Mainers believe that young people need to leave the state to succeed — particularly in the fields of science, technology, design and manufacturing. Museum L-A’s Maine Innovation Expo works against this idea, celebrating and showcasing the incredible work that goes on in the buildings that people pass every day.

Museum L-A is seeking exhibitors from businesses, schools, youth groups, artists, entrepreneurs and organizations doing innovative work of all shapes and sizes. This is an opportunity to share skills, passions and inspiration.

This year’s expo is offered in partnership with Project>Login, a program of Educate Maine to support the growth of computer science in Maine. Museum L-A is also working with the Manufacturers Association of Maine. The 2018 Expo will expand on the fun of last year to also include helpful resources and connections for attendees of all ages who want to take the next step in their education and careers.

The Maine Innovation Expo will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 19, at Museum L-A in Lewiston’s Bates Mill. The event is free and open to the public. It is family-friendly and will have activities, food and performances for people of all ages and interests.

Last year’s event drew in around 400 people and plans are underway to make 2018 bigger and better. It is not a trade fair for product sales, but a rather a place to make connections. Museum L-A wants to foster relationships between families and the businesses and organizations doing incredible and often unrecognized work across Maine. There is no charge to exhibit, though exhibits must meet expo guidelines.

“I am glad Museum L-A is reaching out to the trades,” says Dawn Hodsdon of Ed Hodsdon Masonry Inc. “There is a vital need for talented people to not only learn what goes on inside the buildings that they pass by, but to become part of the team of skilled craftsmen and women who maintain those buildings, renovate them, and build the new ones that will house Maine’s future creators.”

Hodsdon plans to send young masons and their support team members to the expo to let attendees try out some masonry skills for themselves.

The Maine Innovation Expo will feature a range of exhibitors from diverse sectors and backgrounds. Past exhibitors include robotics clubs, boat builders, libraries and manufacturers. The ideal exhibit has a dynamic way to share a project, such as teaching a hands-on skill, sharing a visual or leading a demonstration. Museum L-A encourages students to exhibit and share their knowledge with other generations.

“Many people know the history of manufacturing in Lewiston-Auburn, but the story didn’t end when the mills closed,” says Kate Webber, director of education and outreach of Museum L-A. “Then, as now, people have immigrated here and built lives for themselves with entrepreneurship and invention. Too often local children don’t think of their hometown as a place they can be proud of and a place they can live and thrive. There is so much going on here, and Maine shouldn’t have to keep losing its young people.”

The exhibitor deadline is Friday, April 13. To be an exhibitor or for more information, contact Kate Webber at 207-333-3881 or [email protected]

Museum L-A is located in the Bates Mill Complex at 35 Canal St. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Special tour requests and large group tours outside of these hours are available by appointment.

For more information, go to [email protected] or call 207-333-3881.

A participant interacts with 3-D printing at the 2017 Maine Innovation Expo. 

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