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This Weekend in the U.S.: Watch City Steampunk Festival, Old Timers Day

Monday, May 8, 2023

The Watch City Steampunk Festival returns Saturday to Waltham, Massachusetts with a program featuring circus acts, art exhibits, theatrical performances, kids’ activities, and live music, including a set by Frenchy and the Punk. Meanwhile, farther south, steampunk fans will gather at the Old Timers Day Steampunk Festival in Van Buren, Arkansas.

Watch City Steampunk Festival

The Watch City fest is one of the largest steampunk gatherings in the U.S., as past editions have drawn as many as 10,000 visitors. This year’s event has a Sherlock Holmes theme, and the Great Detective himself (or a reasonable facsimile) will be there along with Dr. Watson to solve a mystery involving a missing crown.

Kids’ activities will include a tentacle toss, a photo wall, puppet shows, face painting, and parachute games. The games will be led by Trevor the Games Man, who will also demonstrate stilt walking and aerial tricks.

Frenchy and the Punk will conclude the day’s festivities with a 4 p.m. show. Other musical performers include phonofiddler Keith Engle, The Dirge Carolers, Queen Mercy Roulette, and Duets for a Lifetime with Ruth Benson Levin and Lynn Modell.

Visitors will also hear sounds from the Diamond Jubilee Organ, billed as the largest touring antique fairground organ in the Americas.

Also on tap:

• “Death defying acts” by the Warlock Family Wondershow;

• Aerial choreography by Baechtold and Abel;

• A presentation of the Charles River Collaboratory, a new maker space from the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation;

• A Steampunk LEGO display by the New England LEGO Users Group;

• “Eureka! The History of Invention,” an exhibit by the Museum of Interesting Things;

• Professor Krumpp’s Cabinet of Curiosities, featuring a collection of medieval reed instruments along with a vintage calliope and other oddities;

• A blacksmithing demonstration by Prospect Hill Forge;

• A demonstration of wet plate collodion tintype photography by Daniel Leocadi.

The full schedule is on the festival website.

Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It takes place on Waltham Common in downtown Waltham, about 10 miles west of Boston. Admission is free. Learn more on the website and Facebook page.

Old Timers Day

Also happening this weekend is the Old Timers Day Steampunk Festival in the historic downtown of Van Buren, Arkansas. The free gathering, presented by the city’s Old Town Merchants Association, will feature live music, steampunk exhibitors, vendors, and a costume contest. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 14.

Van Buren is near Fort Smith in the western part of the state. Learn more on the website and Facebook page.

SFWA Conference

In the larger world of science fiction and fantasy, the weekend’s big happening is the SFWA Nebula Conference, hosted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. This is a hybrid event, scheduled for May 12-14 at the Sheraton Park Hotel in Anaheim, California, but also with an online component. Online registration costs $150.

Boston Metaphysical Society creator Madeleine Holly-Rosing is scheduled for three panels: Exploring the Comics Storytelling Toolbox, 1 p.m. Friday; Funding & Crowdfunding your Project, 4 p.m. Friday; and Writing Scripted Sci-Fi/Fantasy Podcasts, 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The latter will be available online.

The conference’s main event is the Nebula Awards ceremony on Sunday at 8 p.m. Pacific time. The ceremony will stream on the SFWA YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Performer info: 

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