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Steampunk in the Jewelry City

Downtown Attleboro will become a steampunk playground at the Jewelry City festival

Thursday, October 18, 2018
Jewelry City Costumes

Steampunk designer and “guru” Bruce Rosenbaum will be among the guests as the second Jewelry City Steampunk Festival takes place Oct. 27 in downtown Attleboro, Massachusetts. The free event will include a costume contest, art show, live music, vendors, educational presentations, and kids’ activities. Last year’s inaugural event drew about 1500 people, and the organizers are hoping for a bigger turnout this time.

The festival will be held at multiple downtown locations. The Ezekiel Bates A.F. & A.M. Masonic Lodge (71 North Main Street) will be the site for an indoor and outdoor vending area as well as a welcome table and art show.

The Attleboro Public Library across the street will host educational presentations, including “Creating a Steampunk Character,” “Creating Steampunk in the Digital Age,” a “Steampunk Roundtable,” “Gizmos and Gadgets,” and a “Steampunk Artists Panel.”

Rosenbaum is scheduled for a presentation at the library about his work. Known for his large-scale steampunk projects, he was recently featured in an episode of “Amazing Interiors” on Netflix. That show documented his efforts to build a steampunk art gallery in his home, a former 19th century church in Palmer, Massachusetts. He’s also the creator of “Discover Steampunk,” a traveling art and history exhibit currently on display at the Museum of Idaho in Idaho Falls.

The Red Fork Empire, an arts collective from Rhode Island, will host several activities. These include an introductory presentation at the library and a lip-sync battle at the Centenary United Methodist Church (15 Sanford St.). The church will also serve food to festival-goers during the afternoon.

Jewelry City Man and Woman

Outdoor activities will take place on the Balfour Riverwalk behind the library, including sword fighting demonstrations by the Athena School of Arms. The Providence Children’s Museum will host a Kids’ Area including yard games, Tinker Bots, and ”Rig-a-ma-jig,” a set of components such as gears and pulleys that kids can use to build contraptions.

The Park Street Ale House (55 Park Street) will be the main entertainment venue. Performers will include the Olde Howard Troupe, described as “an extraordinary league of eight veteran artistes devoted to bringing the experience of the Old English Music Hall to your town.” Members “wear over-the-top Victorian-style stage costumes typical of the golden age of the Music Hall and perform the hits of the music hall stage, with and without accompaniment.”

Also on the bill: King Serpent Variety Troupe, offering outlaw-themed music, dance, and storytelling; Mei Ohara, a singer and electric violinist “who claims to be a Neptunian visitor on planet Earth”; and The King’s Busketeers, described as “a high-octane folk group” that makes “traditional songs from the British Isles and North America shake the rafters.”

The Attleboro Area Industrial Museum will have a 19th century “Peppersass” steam engine from the Mt. Washington Cog Railway in New Hampshire, plus an alternate reality game and demonstrations of “shocking devices” from Victor Von Voltage Electric Snake Oil.

Across the street from the museum, Demers Trucking will offer a photo op in the form of a large gear on an 80-foot rig.

Atomic Alchemy, a local photography studio, will host three meetups where costumed participants can pose for photos.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but some venues will close at 4 p.m.

How it started

Festival co-director Heather Rockwood was inspired to launch the event after a 2014 visit to the Watch City Steampunk Festival in Waltham, Massachusetts. “I moved to Attleboro, and the more I walked around the industrial downtown area, with a vibrant public library, the Attleboro Area Industrial Museum, and how completely accessible it is from train or car, the more I kept thinking how great a steampunk festival would be.”

She then applied for a grant from the local cultural council, “and to my delight and shock, they approved it.”

The festival gets its name from Attleboro’s history as a center of jewelry manufacturing. The city is about 10 miles northeast of Providence and 40 miles south of Boston.

See the festival website for the complete schedule and other info. See the Facebook page and Twitter feed for updates. See this Google map for info about the location.

Photos by Lindsay Davignon. Used by her permission.

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