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Weekend Guide: Brass Screw Festival, Steampunk Symposium, and More

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

It’s another big weekend for U.S. steampunk fans with the Brass Screw Consortium in Port Townsend, Washington; International Steampunk Symposium in Cincinnati; and Hangtown Wild West & Steampunk Festival in Northern California, plus two events in New England and Stokercon in Pittsburgh. We’ve already previewed the Cincinnati event. Here’s a look at the others.

Brass Screw Consortium

“Airship Pirates” will be the theme as steampunk fans occupy Port Townsend, the Victorian-era seaport on the northeast tip of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Events take place at multiple locations in the historic downtown area.

The program includes a fashion show, Nerf dueling, tea dueling, a scavenger hunt, a Sunday promenade, and a maker gallery known as the Bodgers’ Grande Exhibition. The vendor section, known as Bazaar of the Bizarre, will be located in the plaza behind the Cotton Building, which serves as the event headquarters.

Towers art
Escapement Point is a kinetic sculpture by Lord & Lady Towers

Steampunk artists Lord & Lady Towers will lead Nerf dueling and offer rides in their Wavelength vehicle. They’ll also present Escapement Point, a kinetic sculpture built over a six-year span.

Tony Gage, aka The Necrofessor, will present two lectures, “Awful History” and “Dissection of Séance,” both on Saturday.

Most activities are suitable for all ages, the primary exceptions being Friday night’s Den of Iniquities variety show and the Saturday night Hootenanny. The Friday night show will feature music by The Scupper Monkeys, a Seattle-based Irish music band, along with circus acts and neo-burlesque performers. Hot Damn Scandal and Good Co will perform on Saturday night.

The festival takes place June 16-18. Weekend memberships cost $75 for adults and $35 for students. Kids under 13 are admitted free. Memberships do not include admission to the Hootenanny, which costs $25. VIP tickets are sold out.

Learn more on the website and Facebook page.

Hangtown Wild West & Steampunk Festival

Hangtown festival
The Black Flag Gang with Nathaniel and Clara Blackheart at the 2022 Hangtown festival. Photo by Andrei Pischalnikoff.

This will be the second year for the Hangtown festival, which has moved to a new location, the Amador County Fairgrounds in Plymouth, California, about 40 miles east of Sacramento. The inaugural festival was held in nearby Placerville, which was once known as “Hangtown” due to its rough frontier justice during the Gold Rush era.

The program includes games, wagon rides, live music, staged shootouts, gold panning, kids’ activities, and an artisan market. The entertainment lineup includes the Black Flag Gang, an Old West-themed performance group. The Sacramento Steampunk Society will have an active presence.

The festival takes place on June 17 and 18. Proceeds benefit El Dorado Gold 1848, a non-profit seeking to create a local history museum. Learn more on the website and Facebook page.

Thaaar Be Pirates Booty

This pirate-themed steampunk gathering from Oddball Newt will be held on Saturday, June 17, at the Old New-Gate Prison, a former prison and copper mine that’s now a museum operated by the state of Connecticut. Activities will include a potluck picnic, photo shoot, and guided tour. Tickets are required for the guided tour, which begins at 11:15 a.m.

The mine, built in 1707, is said to be the first chartered copper mine in the U.S. New-Gate Prison, built in 1773, was the country’s first state prison.

This is the latest event in Oddball Newt’s “12 Months of Steampunk” series. See the Facebook page for more info.

Boston Steampunk Gathering

June 17 is the third Saturday of the month, which means it’s time for another steampunk gathering at the Blackmoor Bar & Kitchen in Charlestown, Massachusetts. The events are organized by Boston-area steampunk fan Scott Silva. Attendance is free but participants are encouraged to sample the establishment’s food and drinks.

It takes place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. See the Facebook event page for details about this month’s get-together and check out the Boston Area Steampunk Gatherings Facebook group to learn about future events.


This event, the annual convention of the Horror Writers Association, includes presentation of the Bram Stoker Awards, one of the highest honors in dark fantasy and horror writing. It’s scheduled for June 15-18 in Pittsburgh.

The awards are especially notable this year because two authors with steampunk connections are finalists. Sumiko Saulson, who has appeared at the Clockwork Alchemy convention near San Francisco, is a finalist in the poetry category for The Rat King: A Book of Dark Poetry.

Meanwhile, Leanna Renee Hieber and co-author Andrea Janes are finalists in the non-fiction category for A Haunted History of Invisible Women: True Stories of America’s Ghosts (see our Q&A from last October).

Hieber, well known to steampunk fans for her historical fantasies, will be spending the weekend at the International Steampunk Symposium. But Saulson will have an active schedule in Pittsburgh.

Learn more on the Stokercon website.

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