Fun at Steampunk November 2017
Last weekend, we drove from Houston to Mansfield, TX (just outside dallas) to the 8th annual Steampunk November event. I left you all with an interview with my protagonist and he brought you a cool video of a real cyber-demon. After a week recovering from my horrible bagel breakfast elbow injury, I am prepared to tell you all about our trip.
It took four hours after work on Friday. We stopped at the madhouse known as Buc-ees in Madisonville. Got gas in Richmond and had to backtrack to return to 45 North, and made it to the hotel so we could sleep and wake up for the big day. Also, I forgot all of my steampunk watches.
I am spoiled by the Texas Ren Fair as they are well developed with buildings for almost every shop, walkways, etc. During the drive back, a common theme of discussion was “stop trying to turn it into TRF.” This is a young fair. Everything was quite organized, but most vendors are pop-up tents, not fancy period looking shops. We didn’t know what to expect when we got there, but in my head, I imagined a smaller, younger RenFair except Steampunked.
The road was marked with custom signs and the parking was easy. Check-in was quick in a little building next to the gate. Everybody is in costume, compared to maybe 20% at TRF. The Gypsy camp to the left is probably the initial build-up of fixed structures. To the right is a stage and a well staffed saloon. The perimeter of the main fields is lined with vendors. I saw shops selling Steampunk stuff I hadn’t seen before, which was great. I solved my pocket watch problem with a real wind-up piece. There were acts going on most of the time on all four stages as I could tell.
We enjoyed Afternoon Tea tasting with six teas with tasty treats. My wife has a pic of the the menu because she’s smart like that. I liked the melon ball with prosciutto, despite loathing melon. The Tea House was well decorated, and other guests were delightful. I was lucky to sit across from Bixby who is the volunteer coordinator for Steampunk November.
There were concession stands in reasonable proximity and prices were $1 for each item. That seemed reasonable compared to TRF’s $3 bottles. Actual food was tricky. The event relies on catering trucks and the BBQ truck didn’t show up until dark. By then, I was starving and had the excellent pizza from the over-worked staff running the Italian food truck. They cooked non-stop until they just couldn’t work anymore, and everybody raved about their food. Food trucks could not come on in Sunday due to the rain, so I think this is something they’ll need to consider for the future, or I’ll have to bring something in the car.
Frenchy and the Punk
This dynamic duo of punk flavor came on around 9pm and we were tuckered out. We stuck around for three or four songs and I managed to get some pics, including the CanCan line. On Sunday, before we left, I saw them standing about and I stopped by to shake their hands. They were kind and fun to speak with. We bought their latest CD.
The Sunday Morning Bagel-Elbow Debacle
While taking my morning bagel at the hotel, I leaned on my elbow to read the social feeds. When I was done, I noted my elbow felt funny and showed my wife who noticed it looked funny because a large knot had formed on the end, extending it like a freakish flesh horn. There are pictures, but I shudder to think of the nightmares it may induce in my readers, so you’ll just have to trust me that it was unholy and unnatural. I wore a hoodie all day to cover it up, and let it rest. That impacted our enthusiasm for Sunday. We were tired, the ground was wet from the early morning rain, we’d seen everything and forgot about the tea-dueling event at 2pm, so we left at 1pm to return home. Which was probably a good idea, because we didn’t get back until 6pm (stopped for lunch at the only Sonic with BBQ I’ve ever seen).
Splendid Teapot Racing
Of all the ideas I have that could be added to SPN, I settled on Splendid Teapot Racing. Wherein a remote control car modified to transport a teapot in a steampunked fashion around a silly and difficult obstacle course. Information can be googled and somebody would have to arrange it. I think it would be visually stimulating and provide a good amount of entertainment to an audience. I just bought an RC car and hope they’ll add Splendid Teapot Racing to the schedule so I can compete because I hinted so loudly at it here.
Special Mention: Durian Grey
There was a troop of gamers who called their booth Durian Grey. They ran a live-action quest event multiple times a day, forming teams of players, assigning roles and walking the teams through an hour long quest. I’m sure, like everything, I could nitpick, but what I really enjoyed about this event was the energy they brought and the specific focussed activity they brought people together to share. For about an hour, seven strangers had a guided experience in character at SPN. It was fun and funny, and completely run by volunteers for free.
I said it before, I’ll say it again. This was a well organized event, run by volunteers. From parking, to gates to everything. Things were clean and tidy. I passed the gentleman at the gate so many times on Saturday as I made trips to drop stuff off at the car, we might as well been on a first name basis. He was especially helpful Sunday morning as he helped my hobbledy wife cross the muddy road from the parking lot to the gate.
I’ll Be Back
We soon decided in the car that we would endeavor to return next year. We had a great time, and hope to better optimize seeing shows that I am certain we missed. Now that we have a better sense of what SPN has to offer, we can plan better to see more of it.