Are you a fan of whimsy? Of a world similar to our late 19th Century but not quite, as this one does not actually exist?
Then, you might just be a steampunk.
Whether you are or not, you might want to check out Historic Speedwell Village Saturday and Sunday, as International Steampunk City holds a benefit event from noon to 6 p.m., with all proceeds going toward Historic Speedwell.
Jeff Mach, creator of International Steampunk City, compared steampunk to such Middle Ages genres popularized by Medieval Times and Rennaisaince Fairs. The difference, however: "Steampunk is not based on reality, so we get to make it up as we go along," he said.
According to the International Steampunk City website: "For the past 30 years a group of individuals, fed up with plastic and streamline designs, have been looking to the Victorian, Edwardian and Industrial eras for inspiration.
"Steampunk grew out of the Science Fiction genre in the 1980s. At its core steampunk asks the question, 'what would the world look like if modern technology were available when steam was king, corsets were mandatory and man was just learning to fly?'"
Like Renn Fairs, expect vendors and performers in ample measure this weekend, dressed up and hamming it up for your pleasure. Feel free to dress up, as well.
Besides Renn Fairs and Medieval Times, Mach said movies like Will Smith's Wild, Wild West and the current Sherlock Holmes films starring Robert Downey Jr. are set in worlds that owe much to the steampunk tableau. "It's such a creative and interesting movement and it has such a sense of whimsy to it," he said.
A former corporate marketer and Rutgers University graduate, Mach ran his first steampunk event in 2002, and it has grown ever since. His Steampunk World's Fair, being held next in May in Piscataway, is touted as the world's largest Steampunk event.
Mach was approached by Historic Speedwell staff about collaborating on an event this year after they ran a successful steampunk event there last year. However, budget cuts earlier year made it impossible for Speedwell staff alone, said Maressa McFarlane, senior program specialist and volunteer coordinator. "We realized with as few staff remaining, we would be unable to do a program of this magnitude," she said.
This weekend's steampunk event will be entirely volunteer-operated, with costs being borne by Mach. At about $600 to $800, he said it was worth it. "We wanted to help," he said. "One-hundred percent of everything is going to Historic Speedwell. We really admire the people here."
And those people are grateful, McFarlane said. "We would still be able to produce this program but without the staff needs or financial needs it entails. We're incredibly grateful to Jeff and his people for stepping in, this program would not be possible without them."
The event will be held rain or shine. For .