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Letter from Manchester

That's Manchester, Conn., where Oddball Newt wants to establish a steampunk hub

Saturday, March 17, 2018

One Manchester is a major urban area in the UK, and another is the most populous city in New Hampshire. But neither, as far as we know, ever declared an official Steampunk Day. That distinction belongs to Manchester, Conn. (pop. 58,241), a town near Hartford that's home to the Stupid Cupid Steampunk Ball in February and Steam Rollin' festival in September.

The events are the brainchildren of David Carlson, who does business as Oddball Newt along with his wife Linda. Stupid Cupid is described as "a stupendous evening of steampunk, Goth, Whovian and Muggle mingling" with live music, tea dueling and "Authentic British Tea." Steam Rollin' is an outdoor festival produced in conjunction with Imagine Main Street, a civic organization that's seeking revitalize Manchester's downtown area. The next one is scheduled for Sept. 6, 2018.

Proclamation

Official proclamation: "Steampunk Day in Manchester."

Photo used by permission of Oddball Newt.

Last year's Steam Rollin' inspired the town's mayor to issue a proclamation designating Sept. 7, 2017 as "Steampunk Day in Manchester." This was a real, official proclamation, bearing the city seal:

"WHEREAS, Steampunk is now in its 30th year as a cultural and artistic phenomenon, depicted in literature, art, and fashion all over the world. For the past two years, it has found a welcoming home in Manchester through event and activities. . . and

"WHEREAS, Steampunk has nothing to do with the chaotic raucousness associated with the word 'punk.' It is all about balance, creativity and respect for the past; and

"WHEREAS, Steampunk is imagining a world that remained in the Victorian Age, still powered by steam but with a dash of science fiction and wonder. . . and

"WHEREAS, Steampunk is an outlet for creativity, inspiration and entertainment. . . and

"NOW, THEREFORE I, Jay Moran, Mayor of the Town of Manchester, do hereby proclaim September 7, 2017 as Steampunk Day in Manchester and call upon citizens to celebrate and be proud of the rich heritage, diversity, and history the Town of Manchester has to offer."

Why Manchester? Like many locations in Connecticut, the town played a big role in the Industrial Revolution. In 1838, the Cheney family established a silk-manufacturing business that eventually became one of the largest in the world. Many structures associated with the business are preserved in the Cheney Brothers Historic District, which covers 175 acres in the southern part of town.

Cheney Hall

Historic Cheney Hall.

Photo used by permission of Oddball Newt.

The buildings include Cheney Hall, an events venue built by the family that now hosts concerts and theatrical performances. Carlson brought Stupid Cupid to Cheney Hall in February and plans to return next year.

He wants to make Manchester a "steampunk hub" and would eventually like to create a two- or three-day event. He also has plans for a steampunk radio program and public-access TV show.

"I did a call out to steampunk bands to send their music in, and the response has been from all over the world," he says. "I even had a DJ in the UK promote the radio show."

History will also record that he was the first person to reach The Steampunk Explorer through our contact page. We entitled this "Letter from Manchester" because it sounds better than "Email from Manchester."

Corrections: This story originally stated that Manchester, NH is the capital of New Hampshire. The capital is Concord. It originally stated that the Stupid Cupid event came to Manchester in 2017. The event debuted in Manchester in Feb. 2018. In 2017, it was held in Storrs, Conn.

Proclamation Ceremony

Mayor Jay Moran proclaims Sept. 7, 2017 as "Steampunk Day in Manchester." Photo used by permission of Oddball Newt.

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