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Steampunk Makers Head for Maryland

Maker demos, author panels, concerts and more are on tap at the Key City Steampunk Festival

Thursday, August 1, 2019
Key City Steampunk Festival logo

An all-star cast of steampunk makers will help celebrate the “Worlds of Jules Verne” as the Key City Steampunk Festival returns August 16-18 to Frederick, Maryland. The event will also feature performances by The Slambovian Circus of Dreams, Frenchy and the Punk, Nightwatch Paradox, and master juggler Paolo Garbanzo.

The festival is the brainchild of Wheeler “Doc” Stone, a maker who works in leather and brass. He’ll be joined by fellow makers Thomas Willeford, Tobias McCurry, Brett King, Dave Lee, Aela Badiana, Michael Parodi, James Neathery, Brian Fadrosh, Stephen Chapman, Aleta Pardalis, Lady E’Toile, Ginger Seibert, Mickey Flint, Cedric Whitaker, and Brett Smith. They’ll be discussing their work in panels throughout the weekend.

Stone, Fadrosh, and McCurry are the co-producers of the event.

Other presenters will include historian Mark P. Donnelly and authors Leanna Renee Hieber, Janeen Ippolito, Sarah Delena White, and Anne Renwick. Also appearing will be David L. Drake and Katherine Morse, the husband-and-wife team behind The Adventures of Drake and McTrowell. They are known for appearing at West Coast steampunk events in character as Erasmus Drake, a chief inspector with Scotland Yard, and Sparky McTrowell, an airship pilot and flight surgeon.

Returning from last year will be the RC Death Match, a demolition derby featuring radio-controlled steampunk vehicles. The program also includes daily bouts of tea dueling and a fashion show on Saturday.

Musical entertainment

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams is an “alt-folk” ensemble originally from Sleepy Hollow, New York. Their sound has been described as “Hillbilly Pink Floyd” and “surreal Americana.” They are well known on the indie folk circuit, and Stone said he sees this as an opportunity to introduce the band to the steampunk world.

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams

They’ll be headlining a Saturday night variety show that will also feature the “bad dad” comedy of James Neathery; dance acts by Lady De L’Etoile and Aela Badiana; juggling by Paolo Garbanzo (with accompaniment from Madame Onca); and solo guitar by Scott Helland of Frenchy and the Punk.

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams will be followed by a performance from HoneyBee burlesque.

Stone says the show “will run somewhere between PG 13 and NC 17,” with “no nudity even in the burlesque because of strict liquor laws. There will be a ‘bawdy’ song or two and language depending on how much James Neathery has had to drink before his comedy act.”

Frenchy and the Punk, including Helland and singer Samantha Stephenson, will be the headliners for a Friday night concert, with Baltimore’s Nightwatch Paradox as the opening act.

Helland will also perform his Guitarmy of One solo act on Sunday at noon.

The Worlds of Jules Verne

The Jules Verne theme will be apparent largely in the décor: Journey to the Center of the Earth in the atrium, Around the World in 80 Days in the main ballroom, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in the pool area. Stone also expects that the author’s influence will be reflected in some of the maker demonstrations.

Last year’s festival drew more than 1000 attendees, and he expects to surpass that in 2019. This would make it the largest paid-attendance steampunk event on the East Coast, he says. The hotel has been paid, he adds, which should alleviate concerns arising from late cancellations of steampunk events in Seattle and Tampa.

Multiple ticket packages are available, including a $75 all-inclusive weekend pass and a $45 general admission weekend pass that does not include the concerts on Friday or Saturday. The $150 VIP pass includes an exclusive party, preferred concert seating, and other perks. Day passes and kids’ passes are also available.

It all happens at the Clarion Inn Frederick Event Center, 5400 Holiday Dr, Frederick MD 21703.

You can get a sense of what to expect from this YouTube video. See the website and Facebook page for more info.

Photo of The Slambovian Circus of Dreams by Eric Selle.

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