Steampunk will move to fairgrounds; old Medina High will welcome back big art show

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 April 2019 at 7:53 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: Arlowe Price, a self-described fourth-generation “circus freak performer” from Buffalo, blows fire from a flame held by Riley Schilacci. Price also chewed broken glass, set a mouse trap on his ear and tongue, and performed other outrageous stunts during the Steampunk Festival on Aug. 31, 2013 at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery.

MEDINA – Some big news in the Orleans County cultural life calendar: the Steampunk Festival at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery is moving the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds. And the PLAY/GROUND art show that debuted at the former Medina High School last year will be back.

Leonard Oakes started hosting Steampunk in 2011. The winery bills the event “as a festival of bizarre proportions.” It draws more than 1,000 people to the winery on Ridge Road.

Most of the attendees at Steampunk wear futuristic costumes with a Victorian theme.

The Steampunk Festival draws people in outlandish costumes, with top hats, goggles and robotic arms as accessories. These attendees at a recent Steampunk Festival in Medina include, from left: Angela Loveland of Niagara Falls, and siblings Adam Cordell and Katie Cordell of Mercersburg, Pa.

The festival features fire artists, belly dancers, bands, hoop dancers, crooners and food trucks. The event also celebrates the winery’s steampunk hard cider.

Moving it to the fairgrounds on Aug. 31 this year will allow the winery to better accommodate the large crowds.

“Some of you guessed right,” Leonard Oakes Estate Winery posted on Facebook. “We’re so excited for the new venue! More details will come in the following weeks. For now we’re just thrilled to share the news with everyone. Can’t wait to see you, Steampunk fans!”

Kyla Kegler of Buffalo created “Thin Space” during the PLAY/GROUND art show last October. She welcomed people to get in the space with the balloons.

Last October also was the debut of a big art show at the old Medina High School. About 1,000 people were in the school over three days to see 29 different art exhibits that were part of PLAY/GROUND.

Organizers announced PLAY/GROUND will be back this fall with the school hosting artists again from Sept. 27-29.

Artists can display their work in classrooms, two bathrooms, stairwells and an auditorium at the school building, 324 Catherine St.

Applications from artists will be accepted from April 12 through May 19, with late applications taken until May 26. Artists will be notified in mid-June if their proposal is selected.

Elizabeth Cooper of Medina was a featured artist at last year’s show. She created angels doing acrobatic moves in one of the stairwells. Todd Belfield of Jeddo Mill Antiques assisted with the installation. “It’s fabulous,” Cooper said then about the art show. “I feel like this is a spark for something very interesting happening in Medina.”

Michael Hungerford, regional director for Takeform in Medina, helped spearhead the project last year. Hungerford read about a similar project as PLAY/GROUND in a vacant warehouse in New York City.

Hungerford knew the old Medina school would be vacant. His uncle Roger Hungerford acquired it from Calvary Tabernacle Assembly of God Church and has plans to create apartments out of the school. First, Hungerford is working to renovate the former Bent’s Opera House on Main Street.

Michael pitched the idea of the art installations in the school and the Roger backed the project.

“It is so far beyond my expectations,” Michael Hungerford said at last year’s show. “The work is amazing.”

The school remains available this year while crews work on the Bent’s building.

For more on PLAY/GROUND, including an artist application, click here.

Colleen Toledano made this piece with pink foam, which proved popular for photos.

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