You can immerse yourself in this Wellsian world at the 5th annual Steampunk Industrial Show
this Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 23 and 24 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Renninger's Flea Market and Antique Center in Mount Dora. This free event showcases a coterie of steampunk characters, performances and specialty vendors to highlight the superiority of the cog over the chip.
According to Toni Moody, marketing and special events coordinator for Renninger's, the show has expanded like the envelope of a dirigible, from 1,200 attendees at the first show five years ago to 5,200 people at their last show in October 2015, with more expected this year.
The highlight of the show is definitely the attendees, who deck out in fabulous attire that blends genteel retro-couture with mechanical accessories. It's neo-historical role-play, where an acceptable wardrobe might include aviator goggles, a leather corset and a brass robotic arm sleeve. If you own a velvet top hat that looks like it was pulled out of a steam train engine, you're probably already planning to attend.
The festivities include steampunk horse and carriage rides (Please let them be clockwork horses!), a giant steampunk kaleidoscope and Oswald, a life-sized interactive robot constructed from Victorian camera pieces. The Time Machine, modeled after the 1960s movie starring Rod Taylor, will be there, though it is doubtful they'll be giving rides to time tourists.
And for race fans, the 2nd Annual Splendid Teapot Race will pit the region's best teapot operators against each other. For those not up on the burgeoning sport of Splendid Teapot Racing, competitors mod out classic teapots with remote-controlled chassis and maneuver them through obstacle courses made of diverse hazards including ramps, tunnels and slalom courses of teacups precariously balanced on candlesticks. Expect shattered crockery. The race will be held on Saturday, naturally starting at teatime: 4 p.m.
A cavalcade of entertainment will perform throughout the weekend event including tantalizing sword swallower Vera Vermillion and the ragtime-tinged SteamPunk Stompers.
The main event, the Steampunk Ball, will bring all the elements of the show together for the biggest Steampunk party since Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. The ball will be held on Saturday from 6 p.m. to midnight. Tickets cost $15, which includes performances and catering from Mellow Mushroom.
Headlining is Deland-based band The Cog is Dead, performing a CD release show for their latest album "Carnival of Clockwork." The band members are actually chrononauts who travelled from the year 1893 in their clockwork time machine to spread the musical word about the advantages of traditional cog technology over digital. Their eclectic sound – a blend of punk, bluegrass, jazz, polka, Russian folk and cabaret – has a giddy madness as if an electric guitar and a kazoo made love on a runaway carousel. During their show, Victorian circus troupe Phantasmagoria, bedecked in self-proclaimed "exquisite decoration mode," will interact with the crowd, performing fire dancing and infusing the show with a surreal sideshow vibe.
You may go into the Steampunk Industrial Show as a 21st century gawker with jeans, T-shirt and contempt for the modern world, but don't be surprised if you leave with a brass-trimmed bowler hat, brocade vest and a desire to hop aboard a clockwork time machine.
If you're a digital detractor, spouting contempt for modern technological advancement and its role in the demise of world values and culture, you may find solace in the steampunk subculture. Steampunk blends the technology, aesthetics and social standards of the industrial era with Jules Verne-esque sci-fi to create a retro-modern fantasy world. Think clockwork time machines, steam-powered airships and quasi-Victorian fashionados.