The Hippo


Jul 23, 2019








Designs by Cloak and Dagger Creations, one of the designers whose work will be featured in the steampunk fashion show. Photo credit Dina Flockhart.

Steampunk City: Masquerade of Makers

Where: Downtown Nashua, primarily in Railroad Square
When: Saturday, June 20, 2 to 8 p.m.
Cost: Free admission. Support buttons are $15 in advance, $20 the day of the fest

Gauges and gadgets and gears
Downtown Nashua becomes Steampunk City

By Angie Sykeny

If you’re walking through downtown Nashua on Saturday, June 20, you may be wondering what strange, alternate universe you’ve stumbled into, where everything is made of bronze and steel and people are dressed in Victorian-style clothes. It’s all in the spirit of Steampunk City: Masquerade of Makers, a festival put on by Great American Downtown.   

“Steampunk is a genre of fiction which centers around elements of historic styling inspired by the Victorian era and involves kind of an alternative evolution of technology where circuit boards never came about, but devices and technology are largely run by steam power,” Paul Shea, executive director for Great American Downtown, said. “So it’s very much like a Jules Verne and [H.G. Wells] The Time Machine type thing.”
Attendees are encouraged to dress up in steampunk fashion — either 19th-century clothing, such as monocles, corsets, top hats and shirtwaists, or 19th-century clothing with a post-apocalyptic twist that includes metal embellishments, goggles and even gas masks.
From 2 to 8 p.m. in Railroad Square there will be a steampunk picnic featuring demonstrations, street performances, technology and art attractions, field activities and vendors. High-powered projectors will turn buildings around the Square into giant steampunk images, like a wall of moving gears, a clock tower, a train and others to enhance the feeling of being transported to another world.
Steampunkers can check out the carousel organ, which plays both old fair songs and modern songs, a musical Tesla coil and a first-person video remote-controlled steampunk chariot. There will be a blacksmithing demonstration as well as circus-style performances like whirlwind hooping. Vendors on site will be selling steampunk style clothes, accessories and more.
“It’s an opportunity for people to dress up and express themselves how they like,” Shea said. “And if they aren’t getting dressed up, it’s an opportunity to enjoy people-watching and see a good number of curious demonstrations that you wouldn’t get to see otherwise.”
Head to the library at 6 p.m. for the Alternative & Creative Steampunk Fashion Show, where the library will be transformed into a 24-foot fashion runway. The show, complete with professional lighting and sound and a live violinist, will feature steampunk styles from three different designers.
From 2 to 5 p.m. at Riverwalk Café and Music Bar, there will be an open mike for storytelling as well as a storytelling contest. Stories for the contest must be original work, have a steampunk theme and be read in 10 minutes or less.
While the festival is free to attend, you can also purchase a “support button,” which will get you some added perks. Proceeds from the support buttons will benefit Makeit Labs, a community workshop in Nashua that gives people a space to build and create with metalworking, machining, carpentry, electronics and more. The members of Makeit Labs are heavily involved with the production of the fest and have created most of the technology that will be on display, such as the Tesla coil and the steampunk chariot, as well as the building projections.
“Having a fundraiser like this one, it’s a perfect fit for us,” said Johnathan Vail, a Makeit Lab member. “Since we build things and make things, we’re able to tie that into the steampunk theme. It’s mechanical and fun.”
Those with a support button will get professional portraits taken of them in their steampunk attire, which will be available to download online for free after the event, entry into a steampunk outfit contest at the end of the night, and a pub walk with discounts at participating area bars and restaurants from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.  
“Steampunk is interesting and inspires creativity,” Shea said. “We thought it’d be great to have an event that touches on history, technology and creativity, and to highlight all those aspects of our downtown while also providing people an opportunity for expression.” 
As seen in the June 18, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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