Steampunk Immersion in Florida

The first-ever Aethertopia in Tampa promises to celebrate the “Genius of Steampunk Makers”

Monday, May 21, 2018
Aethertopia logo

For two days this summer, a steampunk city will rise in Tampa as Aethertopia makes its debut, July 7-8 in the Entertainment Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds. It will be a steampunk event “like no other,” says event organizer Anthony Sakovich, aka Lord Theodore Puddleton. “We are attempting to build a 50,000-square-foot movie set.” The tagline is “Celebrating the Genius of Steampunk Makers.”

Time Machine

Aethertopia will be an immersive experience with seven districts, each associated with a Maker Guild that corresponds to an aspect of steampunk culture: Hatters (headwear), Inventors (devices and technologies), Assassins (weaponry), Storytellers (fiction, music, dance and acting), Artists (painting, sculpture and crafts), Explorers (airships, rockets, travel gear), and Seamsters (costumes).

Each district is essentially a curated exhibition. Makers are invited to submit their work by sending up to six photos along with a $10 submission fee. Authors submit written works or links to samples. Fees will be donated to the Henry B. Plant Museum, a landmark on the University of Tampa campus that occupies a former Victorian-era hotel. If your work is accepted, admission to the event is free. If it’s not accepted, you can apply the $10 fee to a one- or two-day pass. You can enter submissions in multiple guilds, but you’ll have to pay the $10 fee for each.

The entry deadline is June 1.

Lord Puddleton

Creations shown in the districts will be entered into two contests: The Audience Choice Awards and Show Judges Awards, both with cash prizes. Audience Choice Awards will be presented in each guild. The judges will determine “Best of Show” awards, which can be from any category. The event has already announced one “Expert Maker” judge, Thirl Hupp, aka Professor Cornelius Thriftium.

Each district will have its own vendor area, and many of the makers will be present to discuss their work with attendees.

Programming at the event will also include lectures and workshops as well as teapot racing, parasol dueling, and the “Aether Ball,” an evening dance.

The Entertainment Hall has a maximum capacity of 5000, but attendance at the event will be limited to 3000. “If I get one-third of that, I will be ecstatic,” Sakovich says. The hall is air conditioned.

Meli Made

Standard adult weekend passes cost $69 in advance or $75 at the door. Premier passes cost $99 or $105 at the door. Holders of premier passes get early pre-admission, preferred seating and other perks. Kids’ passes (ages 4-12) and day passes are also available. Attendees can also reserve space at the Victorian-style Steampunk Banquet on Saturday evening. Tickets for the dinner cost $49.50 and must be reserved online.

The Tampa Bay area has an active steampunk community, which Sakovich credits to a large concentration of history buffs and a strong maker culture. He notes that the area also has an active group in the Society for Creative Anachronism, which focuses on the Medieval era. Orlando, about 90 minutes away, is another steampunk hotbed.

The event is produced by Sakovich’s company, Apseom LLC, which also produces The Omega Contingent, a steampunk serial drama podcast available on iTunes.

Photos used by permission of Aethertopia.

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