Steampunk Festival offers readings, entertainment at Fairhaven Village Green



Posing for photos, Ivan Owen, left, Torrae Owen and Elijah Forslof, right, show off their mechanical accoutrements at the first Bellingham Steampunk Festival held at the Fairhaven Village Green on Saturday July 7, 2012 in Bellingham. Ivan and his step-son Elijah built the mechanical hands and wings.


Enjoy days of future past with the third annual Steampunk Festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 19, at the Fairhaven Village Green.

It's sponsored by Village Books, the Fairhaven Village Inn and the Bellingham Steampunk Society. All events and performances are free, but food vendors and others will have items for sale.

"We encourage people to dress up - even if you don't have fancy costumes," said Christina Claassen, events coordinator at Village Books. "I always find something in my closet."

Claassen said a variety of entertainment and activities are planned to honor all facets of steampunk, which adds futuristic sci-fi flourishes to the Victorian era's steam-powered machinery, fashions and weapons. Steampunk fans relish the costumes, writings and imaginative role-playing that the genre offers.

For those who want to put a little extra time into their outfits, the festival features a steampunk costume contest.

Events begin at 11 a.m. with a festival on the Village Green and with steampunk literature presentations in the downstairs Readings Gallery at Village Books, 1200 11th St., and a noon to 1 p.m. "Ghosts of Fairhaven" presentation with Taimi Gorman, author of the 2012 book "Haunted Fairhaven." Karina Cooper, author of the racy "St. Croix Chronicles" series of paranormal romances, speaks from 1-2 p.m. in the conference room of the Village Inn, 1200 10th St.

Other presentations continue throughout the afternoon, including "How Clothing of the Victorian Era Inspires Steampunk" with Colleen Harper from the Bellingham retailer Black Market Boutique; Bellingham corset maker Jane Burleigh from Calamity Jane Corsetry; and Lori Erickson from Lastwear in Seattle, which specializes in attire for steampunk, goth and dieselpunk.

Claassen said their talk, featuring clothing examples and a slideshow, is bound to be popular because of the importance that steampunk fans place on costuming and role-playing.

"(Burleigh) will be talking about her modern corsets and how she makes them," Claassen said. Corsets are the to-die-for accessory of steampunk'd women.

Chris Brewer of the Whatcom Museum and John Jenkins of the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention will lead a "Bringing History to Life" discussion from 1:30-2:30 p.m. at Village Books, followed by a steampunk storytime for children and families from 3-3:30 p.m.

Outside on the Green is a festival of performers, historical displays, vendors and food booths, including Street Dogz, Mallard's ice cream and Skylark's.

Performers include Trevor the Sword Guy of Epic Myth Adventures, who performs with foam swords in steampunk/medieval costumes.

He's a popular attraction, said Laura Brisbane of the Bellingham Steampunk Society.

"A lot of kids'll go up to him and engage him," Brisbane said.

Other performers include singer Jody Ellen, a former member of the Seattle steampunk band Abney Park, who will be playing at 2 p.m. Strangely, a popular Bellingham circus performer, storyteller and musician, will be on stage at 4 p.m.

There's a magic performance with Twice the Magic Matthew and Illusion, plus a performance from the band Frailing Banshees.

Bellingham Bay Fencing Association offers a swordplay demonstration. Dean Christensen will show his steampunk'd bicycles and there will be displays from the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention, Whatcom Museum and the Bureau of Historical Investigation, a Bellingham company that features local Good Time Tours and photo parties with historically inspired fashions.

Reach Robert Mittendorf at 360-756-2805 or

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