Steampunk Festival moves to Fairgrounds to accommodate bigger crowd

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 August 2019 at 3:14 pm

1,500 expected Saturday for ‘Festival of Bizarre Proportions’

Photos by Tom Rivers: Arlowe Price, a self-described fourth-generation “circus freak performer” from Buffalo, blows into a flame held by Riley Schilacci in this photo from the Steampunk Festival on Aug. 31, 2013 at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery. Price will be back on Saturday for the festival. Price chews broken glass, sets a mouse trap on his ear and tongue, and performs other outrageous stunts.

KNOWLESVILLE – A “festival of bizarre proportions” has become so big it is moving to the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds on Saturday.

Leonard Oakes Estate Winery hosted the event since 2011 at its Ridge Road location in Medina, and would accommodate 1,000 to 1,200 people annually at recent Steampunk Festivals.

“We were at capacity,” said Jerod Thurber, sales manager at Leonard Oakes and SteamPunk Cider. “There is a huge amount of growth that can happen.”

Thurber is the manager of the Steampunk Festival, which on Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m. will have many attractions, including three bands, hot-air balloon rides, five food vendors, a steampunk clothing contest, fire artists, circus freaks, belly dancers, a mad science fair and Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber.

Most of the attendees at Steampunk wear futuristic costumes with a Victorian theme. They wear outlandish costumes, with top hats, goggles and robotic arms as accessories.

The event draws people from 10-15 states and Canada. Moving the event to the Fairgrounds provides an option to camp with tents or RVs.

Leonard Oakes wanted to put on a fun event at the end of summer, just before Labor Day, when it started the Steampunk Festival. It also wanted to showcase its SteamPunk Cider, which has become the winery’s top seller.

Jacob Verghese plays the banjo and sings for the band, Pine Fever from Buffalo, at the pavilion at Leonard Oakes in August 2014. Pine Fever will be back Saturday for the Steampunk Festival.

Thurber would like to expand the Steampunk Festival into a two-day event in the future, with one day devoted to promoting ciders and agriculture.

“Ciders are on a resurgence right now,” he said. “It’s pushing us forward.”

Leonard Oakes branded its cider at SteamPunk Cider, which taps into the steampunk movement – “a blend of the old and the new,” Thurber said.

The entertainment on Saturday is headlined by the band, Rasputina. The band is a pioneer in the use of cello as the sole instrument within a rock band. Rasputina uses elaborate costuming spanning a number of historical periods, and brings marginalized historical female figures and stories to light in the pop form.

Rasputina has performed and recorded with Marilyn Manson, Cheap Trick, and the Goo Goo Dolls.

The Buffalo-based band Pine Fever will also perform and so will the local group, The Capitals. (Ben Jones, assistant winemaker at Leonard Oakes, is a member of The Capitals.)

The Steampunk Festival will set up a stage near the Lartz Building for the musicians and also will utilize the stage at the Curtis Pavilion for some of the performers, including Arlowe Price, who does tricks with fire, chews glass, and does other outrageous stunts.

Many of the attendees wear Steampunk outfits for the festival, including this group in 2013, from left: Angela Loveland of Niagara Falls, and siblings Adam Cordell and Katie Cordell of Mercersburg, Pa.

Other attractions include: The Axe Wagon, Steam Driven Equipment Alley, Hot Air Balloon Rides by DejaVu Ballooning, Pyromancy, Buffalo Aerial Dance, Buffalo tribal Belly Dance, Relativity Belly Dance, Sweeny Todd the Demon Barber, Trouppe Nissa, Projex, and a SteamPunk Fashion Competition.

The hot air balloon rides via Deja Vu Ballooning in Middleport  will be tethered rides, with the basket going up about 40 to 50 feet along Route 31.

Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber will be in the Trolley Building -and will offer an old-fashioned straight razor shave, chair cut, and will be available for photo ops.

The Mad Science Faire will highlight gadget and creations from the steampunk world.

Many people from the steampunk world will be in costume including Steam Nation, the Rochester SteamPunks, and the Buffalo SteamPunks.

For more information, click here.

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