Steampunk Fest Returns to Maryland
Organizer Wheeler Stone has ambitious plans for the Key City Steampunk Festival in Frederick
Some of the best-known makers in the steampunk world will converge in Frederick, Maryland, this summer as the Key City Steampunk Festival rolls into the Clarion Inn Frederick Event Center, August 17-19, 2018. Last year's event drew about 1000 attendees, says organizer Wheeler Stone, and he's set an ambitious goal of tripling that number in 2018. With the recent demise of The Steampunk World's Fair, this will likely be the largest paid-admission steampunk event on the U.S. East Coast.
The festival, he says, is mostly about "community building, and creating a fun and safe space to show off art and enjoy music, while getting dressed up with friends." This year's event will have a "carnival vibe," he adds.
Stone himself is a maker who does business as Doc Stone Studios, and he'll be joined by Tobias McCurry, David Lee, Thomas Dean Willeford, Sara Neathery, James Neathery, Brian Fadrosh, Aleta Pardalis, Lady De L'Etoile, and other guests.
The makers will share their wisdom in panel discussions and workshops, including one where attendees can present their creations and get troubleshooting tips from Stone and McCurry.
Live entertainment will include a Friday night performance by Baltimore-based steampunk band Night Watch Paradox, as well as Saturday's "Steampunk Meets Dark Circus" party with Mosquito Cabaret and This Way To the Egress.
Returning from last year will be the Steampunk RC Death Match, a demolition derby featuring radio-controlled steampunk vehicles. New in 2018 is the Steampunk RC Drag Race. All attendees will be eligible to enter.
Stone is also planning a celebrity "Dunk Tank" that will raise money for charity.
More than 50 vendors have signed up to attend, he adds.
Various ticket packages are available, including a $15 single-day pass, $30 weekend pass with no concerts, $50 all-access pass, and $100 VIP pass. These are early-bird prices and will increase "soonish."
This is the third year for the event, which was originally held in conjunction with the National Clustered Spires High Wheel Race. This year's race, featuring high wheel bicycles popular in the 1880s, is scheduled for August 11, the Saturday before the steampunk fest.
"Key City" is a nickname for Frederick, which was the birthplace of Francis Scott Key, best known for writing the lyrics of "The Star-Spangled Banner." The city is about 50 miles west of Baltimore and 45 miles northwest of Washington, DC.
For those who need a quick steampunk fix, Stone is planning a smaller event, "LIGHTHOUSE: An Emporium of Curiosity," on May 19, also at the Clarion Inn. It's described as a "free benefit bazaar" featuring vendors who were originally slated to appear at The Steampunk World's Fair. Vendors won't be charged for table space, so they'll get to keep all proceeds from their sales.
Stone will also appear at the C.O.G.S. Expo, a free-admission steampunk festival scheduled for May 4-6 at the Radisson Hotel in Piscataway. That event replaces The Steampunk World's Fair, which met its demise after misconduct allegations against SPWF organizer Jeff Mach.
Photos used by permission of Key City Steampunk Festival.