When Darrin Yesbeck went to the mountains of Tennessee to visit Dollywood with his daughter, he spent a good deal of time with her over a Pac-Man video game machine.
He enjoyed it so much, he decided to make his own.
The 45-year-old Orlando resident now takes used whiskey and wine barrels, cleans them, airs them out and then repurposes them as stand-up video game machines.
“My daughter, who had never played a Pac-Man game in her life, was having so much fun with it,” he said. “At 1 a.m., I heard the game going off and she and I had a bonding moment in the middle of the night.”
His business, Barrel of Kong, will be part of Orlando Maker Faire from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at Central Florida Fairgrounds, 4603 W. Colonial Drive in Orlando.
The two-day event features more than 300 exhibits that will offer visitors a chance to make their own T-shirts, meet artists and musicians, and learn more about Central Florida’s community of people who make things.
Yesbeck, whose day job is an employee recruiter, has long spent his spare time fiddling with electronics.
“I really just like to build things," he said. “When I have an idea, I just like to go for it.”
Yesbeck started building the arcade machines about 18 months ago. So far, he has sold about 30 machines, which cost about $1,000.
He generally buys empty wine and whiskey containers from someone he calls “my barrel guy,” who buys and sells barrels at wholesale.
Yesbeck takes the lids off and lets them air out before he even starts the two-day cleaning process, which is usually done in his garage.
That includes sanding them down, putting lacquer on the barrels and then, for some, burning designs into them. He then installs a monitor and two control panels.
“No two barrels are ever really the same,” said Yesbeck, who named the business after the video game ape who spends the entire game of Donkey Kong hurling barrels at a character trying to scale an obstacle course.
The show is a once-a-year gathering of a group of art-driven people known as “makers.”
The term can include people from industries and backgrounds who have the common trait that they make things using a craft or skill, either in their spare time or professionally.
Those who attend this year will be able to make their own snow cones using a human-powered hamster wheel, witness robots battle it out in a small arena or watch 3D printers create works of art on the spot.
“This is a rewarding place to share one’s passion,” said Carol Hunter, whose exhibit will walk people through the ancient Japanese art of braiding a specific type of cord, known as a kumihimo. “The community of makers is a wonderful group of people who instantly feel like family to other makers.”
Organizers say the purpose of Maker Faire is to expose as many children as possible to the areas of STEAM - that is, science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
“STEAM is more than a buzzword,” said Candy Cole, executive director of The Maker Effect Foundation. “It’s about inspiring people as they experience new things so they, too, can bring their own ideas to life.”
For Yesbeck, his introduction to making video game machines came as a result of his daughter Allie’s chronic illness, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, which limited her ability to play outside for lengths of time.
“We’d play Ms. Pac-Man and go head-to-head,” he said. “I was a lot better. But I’d let her win.''
Where: Central Florida Fairgrounds, 4603 W. Colonial Drive.
Cost: One-day passes cost $10 for ages 4-17 or 18+ with current student ID, $15 ages 18+; two-day passes cost $15 for ages 4-17 or 18+ with current student ID and $25 ages 18+. NOTE: First three price points listed go up $5 on the days of the show.