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This Weekend: Steampunk NZ, Cogs & Corsets, Freaky Mutants, and More

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Once again, the steampunk calendar this weekend is jam-packed with events across the U.S., along with Steampunk NZ in New Zealand and Portsmouth Comic Con in the U.K.

Highlights in the U.S. include Cogs & Corsets: A Steampunk Happening in Bloomington, Illinois, and the second Freaky Mutant Weirdo Festival in Hackettstown, New Jersey. Steampunks will also have a big presence at the Blackbeard Pirate Festival in Virginia and Phoenix Fan Fusion. And Valentine Wolfe will perform at ConCarolinas in Charlotte.

Steampunk NZ

Oamaru, in New Zealand’s South Island, has been billed as the “Steampunk Capital of the World,” and one of its claims to fame is this festival, which returns June 2-5 after a pandemic-induced hiatus.

Festivities include Saturday’s Steampunk Parade through the town’s Victorian Precinct, along with a steampunk market, teapot racing, hot air balloon rides, a variety show, and the “Explorers Return Banquet & Ball” on Sunday evening.

The schedule also includes a gadget competition featuring handheld navigational devices. And with blessings from Hatton Cross Steampunk in Gloucester, Virginia, the organizers will present their own version of The Great World Suitcase Challenge, a maker competition featuring steampunk creations contained inside suitcases.

Teapot racing, now a staple of steampunk events around the world, originated at Steampunk NZ in 2014.

Learn more on the website and Facebook page.

Cogs & Corsets

Steampunk promenade
Promenade at Cogs & Corsets in 2021. Photo by Curt Knapp.

John Sprocket of The Cog is Dead will be the headline performer at Cogs & Corsets, set for June 2-4 in Bloomington, Illinois. In contrast to past events, this year’s activities will take place mostly at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts (BCPA), which organizer Melanie Shellito describes as “a gorgeous backdrop for the steampunk aesthetic.” It also happens to be air conditioned, though some activities will take place outside on the lawn.

The festival will kick off with a Friday evening promenade through downtown, ending at the BCPA. Other free activities include workshops, panels, a fashion show, costume contest, maker competition, nerf dueling, parasol dueling, splendid teapot racing, and a steampunk market with more than 35 booths.

A 1925 Willys Knight Touring car will be there for free photo ops. Free entertainment includes The Minstrel Rav’n, Chris Corkery, and The Poor Tuesday Old Time String Band, all performing on the BCPA lawn.

Sprocket will perform at a ticketed show on Saturday evening. Other ticketed happenings include Contra Dance with The Cosmic Otters on Friday, the Time Travelers Light Show & Dance on Saturday, a tea demo and tasting on Sunday, and psychic readings, also on Sunday. A tea room with full tea service and refreshments will be open on Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets can be purchased a la carte, or you can purchase a full event pass for $70. The latter provides access to all paid events except for the tea demo and tasting, which has limited seating.

Learn more on the website and Facebook page.

Freaky Mutant Weirdo Festival

This will be the second year for the revamped event, which is now an outdoor steampunk festival. It takes place Saturday, June 3, at Vasa Park in Hackettstown, New Jersey.

The daytime program features multiple stages of family-friendly entertainment, including performances by hosts A Halo Called Fred along with Frenchy and the Punk, This Way to the Egress, Trio of Madness, Coveilance Dance Project, The Munchausen Society, and Lady Luna. It will conclude with an all-star music jam and a parade.

About 30 vendors will be on hand. The event will also feature teapot racing, photo ops with Doc Brown’s DeLorean, and re-creations of medieval battles by Knights of Acre.

That will be followed by an indoor adults-only Dinner Cabaret with burlesque performer Holly Ween plus Esmerelda May, Oliver Swisskey, Minnie d’Moocha, Renaissance Noir, sideshow acts by Gypsy Lavery, and comedy by John Minus. In addition, A Halo Called Fred will perform songs “that are far too filthy for the daytime.”

Standard-admission daytime tickets cost $30 for adults and $15 for minors (14-18). Kids 13 and under will be admitted for free. The dinner cabaret is a $30 add-on and includes a meal.

The event was previously an indoor variety show before last year’s debut as a festival.

Learn more on the website and Facebook page.

But Wait, There’s More…

The Hampton History Museum in Hampton, Virginia will host Steampunk: Visions of Futures Past, an art exposition featuring works by Dave Lee of Hatton Cross Steampunk and Mike Parodi of Master Creations Enterprises. Both are familiar faces at steampunk events in the U.S. Admission is free.

The exposition will be held in conjunction with the Blackbeard Pirate Festival, which takes place June 3 and 4 on the Hampton waterfront. Learn more on the museum website and the event’s Facebook page.

Gothic metal band Valentine Wolfe will perform at ConCarolinas, a science fiction and fantasy convention that takes place June 2-4 at the Hilton Charlotte University Place in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The convention features tracks on writing, geek life, and the paranormal, as well as gaming, a costume contest, karaoke, and a charity auction. Other guests include authors Jeff Strand and Gabino Iglesias and horror artist Lynne Hansen.

Learn more on the website.

A steampunk fashion show will be part of the program at Phoenix Fan Fusion, a large pop culture convention happening June 2-4 at the Phoenix Convention Center. The fashion show is set for Sunday at 3 p.m. with guests Dee Astell, Hal C.F. Estell, Shawn Flanders, Bill Mullins, and the Arizona Penny Dreadfuls.

The convention schedule also includes a panel on the Prime Video series Carnival Row, as well as sessions on compliment dueling and how to steampunk on a budget.

Ken Liu, author of the Dandelion Dynasty silkpunk series, will participate in panels on artificial intelligence, writing advice, world building, and short fiction. Attendees can also meet Boston Metaphysical Society creator Madeleine Holly-Rosing, who will be in the exhibit hall.

Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica will be well represented with appearances by Anson Mount, Sonequa Martin-Green, Walter Koenig, William Shatner, Jamie Bamber, Katee Sackhoff, and Mary McDonnell. Other celebrity guests include Christopher Eccleston, Claudia Christian, Jeremy Renner, and Paul Bettany.

See the website for the full program and other info.

The Gosport Steampunk Society will have a big presence at Portsmouth Comic Con, set for June 3 and 4 at Portsmouth Guildhall in Portsmouth, UK. This time they’ll be adopting a pirate theme with tea dueling and other activities in their own section on the ground floor.

The convention will also feature cosplay parades, a Doctor Who 60th Anniversary celebration, and the outdoor “Jurassic Experience” for fans of dinosaurs and the Jurassic Park franchise. See the website for more info.

Event info: 

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