By Beth Dodd
This coming February 15th – 17th Victor will host its first steampunk festival. Not familiar with steampunk? It’s creative, romantic, and rebellious, and has the potential to draw hundreds of people to the community and become an important annual event.
Steampunk is a spin on science fiction that features anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them. It is based on that era’s culture, art, and fashion. Think Queen Victoria meets the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells. The genre includes literature, art, and costuming set in an alternate history of 19th century Britain or the American “Wild West.” Another twist is a post-apocalyptic fantasy future in which steam power has regained mainstream use.
Victor is the perfect setting for a steampunk event, with its Victorian architecture and western boom town ambiance. When the town of Victor first blossomed, the mines employed cutting edge period technology; new milling techniques for gold ore, locomotives barreling in and out of town, and steam powered mining engines moving tons of men and rock.
“This is so Victor,” enthused Victor’s OSM/VISTA worker, Becky Parham, who is involved in the event planning. “Steampunk is intriguing and a good fit for Victor. Victor’s hey day was during the Victorian Era, and the people of Victor and Cripple Creek were tech innovators in their field. This is a great way to celebrate Victor’s authenticity. Steampunk is stuck in time, and so are we.”
Steampunk conventions have become popular within the past decade, with events springing up around the country like Steamcon in Seattle, WA, the Steampunk World’s Fair in Piscataway, NJ and the World Steam Expo in Dearborn, MI.
Steampunk also has a growing following in the UK and Europe. The largest European event is “Weekend at the Asylum”, a dedicated steampunk event which takes over much of the historical quarter of Lincoln, England, along with Lincoln Castle. In the event’s third year in 2011, there were over 1,000 steampunks in attendance.
Events at the steampunk conventions can be incredibly diverse, and may include things like salons and panels about steampunk, art and sculpture exhibits, seances, ballroom dance instruction, duels, and costume parades. Local steampunk clubs are emerging across the country, like the Tesla Steampunks in Colorado Springs, and there’s even a steampunk magazine.
Plans for the inaugural Victor event are coming together, with many ideas being considered. For example, the Victor Steampunk Emporium will help you create your look. There are no set guidelines, but outfits may include gowns, corsets, petticoats and bustles for women. Suits with vests, dusters, top hats, spats, or vintage military garments are popular for men.