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Steampunk Through the Looking Glass

High Desert Steam adopts a Wonderland theme for its annual expo and ball in Reno, Nevada

Wednesday, November 6, 2019
Wonderland and Bobbies

Steampunk will meet the world of Lewis Carroll as High Desert Steam presents the Winter in Wonderland Expo and Ball, Nov. 16-17 in Reno, Nevada. “We are welcoming all things steampunk and Wonderland,” explains High Desert Steam chair Shelly Jackson. “We have many familiar faces, as well as new vendors, workshops, a Mad Hatter Tea Party, and on-theme entertainment for all ages.”

The program also includes author readings, roleplaying games, a fashion show, and a four-part “Alice Immersive” theatrical performance with actors and contortionists from the San Francisco area. It tells “the story of Alice in Wonderland in song, cirque and playacting,” Jackson says.

Between the acts, the performers will take their antics to the expo’s gallery, which will also feature art projects by Andrea Diamond-Kitchen and Killbuck Norman. Outlaws should be forewarned that the gallery will serve as the headquarters for the Sacramento Steampunk Bobbies, who will attempt to solve a missing person case involving a girl named Alice.

Saturday night’s main event will be a Winter in Wonderland ball with entertainment by DJ Khaleesi and Strangely Doesburg, plus Mary Freaking Crawley’s costume contest. The latter is named for Mary Crawley, the founder of High Desert Steam and the contest’s sole judge.

Doesburg, who mixes comedy with “roaring accordion music,” will serve as the expo’s master of ceremonies.

Author guests include Shelli Frew, Sumiko Saulson, AJ Sikes, BJ Sikes, Michael Tierney, and Dover Whitecliff. In addition to readings, some authors will present workshops on storytelling techniques such as plot and character development. Whitecliff will discuss the art of writing Steampunk Haiku, and Saulson will lead a presentation on Afrofuturism and Afrocentric Steampunk.

Artist Killbuck Norman

Makers Elizabeth Emerson and Kristen Foggie will present a series of ticketed make-and-take craft workshops, including “Historic Cockades” ($10), “Bows and Accessories” ($15), “Victorian Travel Bags” ($40), “Ribbon Chatelaine” ($50), and “Beetle Wing Dragon Scale Mitts” ($75). Prices include the materials needed to make each item. Foggie will also present a free workshop, “Costuming on the Cheap.” High Desert Botanicals will offer $15 workshops on gin making and herbal infusion.

Many activities will take place at the Wilbur D. May Museum in Reno, but the organizers have also added the nearby Victorian Ranch House as a second venue. This will be the site for the Nerdvana Role Playing Room as well as make-and-take workshops, author workshops, and Saturday afternoon’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. The latter requires a separate ticket.

“Costumes are admired, but never required,” Jackson says.

Both venues are in Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, 1595 N Sierra St, Reno, NV 89503, about 1.5 miles north of downtown.

High Desert Steam is a group of steampunk enthusiasts in Northern Nevada. The area has an active steampunk community, due in part to the proximity to Burning Man, which is held about 100 miles north of Reno. Members also participate in steampunk events in California.

Discounted advance sale tickets will be available through midnight on Nov. 9. Discount prices are $15 for an expo-only weekend pass or $39 for the expo and ball. Day passes cost $10. Tickets for Sunday’s Mad Hatter Tea Party cost $22. Full price for a combo ticket will be $45 beginning Nov. 10. Kids 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. You can order through the Facebook event page or Eventbrite.

See the High Desert Steam website and Facebook page for more info.

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