Technology with attitude

A Report from Steampunk World's Fair 2012

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Airman Lovechild showing off a native New Jersey water creature trophy.
Airman Lovechild showing off a native New Jersey water creature trophy.

Whenever I go to a new convention, I probably spend a good amount of time wandering around confused and barely comprehensible as I fumble with my camera and try to take in and process everything I’m looking at, and this was certainly a new experience to me! Ok fine, maybe not completely new. What we have is something that looks very much like a convention on the surface: you have vendors, panels, and workshops. Then you notice it has sort of a Renaissance Faire-type vibe to it (since a large number of presenters and patrons alike are in character), along with the fair not restricted to being indoors (there are outdoor vendors and attractions to see while obtaining that all important vitamin D)!

Steampunk aesthetic makes everything better, even lunch!
Steampunk aesthetic makes everything better, even lunch!


What struck me most was all the people dressed up for the occasion. It made the experience feel almost immersive at times. Now, when you go to an anime/comic/game convention you will see a large number of patrons dressed up as one of their favorite characters. The major difference here is you don’t get that immersion you do there that I got here. At a Ren Faire you do get the consistency of costumes coming from the same general theme, however you do not get nearly the same amount of costumes being worn! I’d say 8 out of 10 people I saw at Steampunk World’s Fair were in some sort of steampunk inspired costume. A staggering number of my fellow attendees were dressed in incredibly extravagant outfits that would have crowds of people ogling them at just any old convention, but not here! No! They are nearly common place and it makes it all the more amazing!

I am completely OK admitting I have top hat envy here.
I am completely OK admitting I have top hat envy here.


One interesting part of the Fair was just how many vendors there were! So many amazing Steampunk products to look at and buy! Also helps the shop keepers tend to be pretty awesome people in general. Although I must admit to my fellow thrifty spenders… this is not a cheap hobby. Best to give yourself an allowance and go hunting for the best item to spend your hard earned cash on to improve your outfit or give your desk back at the office that unique look with a wild paperweight or robotic lamp stand.

Here is where I begin to admit that I did have some issues concerning the convention. While the majority of the Fair was in well maintained spaces, you got to a part where you had panel rooms and vendors in their hotel rooms selling their wares. On one hand it was really cool to walk down the hallway and see all of these mini shops selling so many fantastic items… on the other hand when it got busy in the tight hotel hallways or small hotel rooms selling things (did I mention that I am in costume carrying non trivial items surrounded by tons of heavily costumed individuals also carrying all sorts of things?) one may start to look for an exit for fresh air. I admit I may have a bit of claustrophobia in me and just thankful this was only one part of the Fair.

No one challenged him to a headbutt contest.
No one challenged him to a headbutt contest.


There was an amazing time to be had for even the passing fan of steampunk, but you may still be wondering the haunting question… is it for you? If you already have a steampunk outfit and already go to similar events then by all means, I probably don’t even need to tell you to secure your spot next time and buckle in for a retro futuristic weekend of fun! Really, the the clientele is what defined my time there the most – so many people to see and meet that had such a passion for the aesthetic. I can’t think of any geek gathering, outside of an Adam West panel, that had so many people in the upper age ranges participating! I would go so far as to say the older crowd was beating us spry 30 somethings in the costume department pretty solidly. But I digress.

The performances were fun, although the music performances are dependent on your personal tastes. Although if you didn’t enjoy Montague Jacques Fromage’s SteampunkFunk you are no friend of mine! All in all, if you are still on the fence when the show is back in town again I highly suggest driving by, bring your camera, and have a walk around. You may find it’s worth it to pull the trigger to get your pass to the full experience!

Yes, he did in fact offer me a Jelly Baby.
Yes, he did in fact offer me a Jelly Baby.