James Gallagher was initially a bit scared of steampunk even though he has been a medieval re-enactor in the past. But the New York man found that with the steampunk community, there is no pressure for historical accuracy.

“The imagination can run wild,” he said Friday as he joined others for the fourth annual Key City Steampunk Festival in Frederick.

Laura Becraft, of New Windsor, has been involved in steampunk for about four years. She describes steampunk as “having its feet in the Victorian era or steam age, with the imagination of science fiction and a technology beyond that time.”

Steampunk features costumed people who “imagine a new reality by exploring the arts in a futuristic Victorian reality,” according to festival founder Wheeler Stone. But he stressed that people don’t have to be in costume to attend.

There are workshops on leatherwork, costuming, how to pose for photos, prop making and hat making.

There are also fashion shows, musical performances and tea dueling, where competitors face off and dip a shortbread biscuit in tea then hold it up while drinking the tea and finally eating the softened biscuit before it breaks.

More than 50 vendors are set up to help steampunk enthusiasts create new costumes or accessorize what they already have.

“All it takes is the ability to make believe and imagine a new reality,” Stone said. “It’s a little escape.”

The all-ages festival is being held through Sunday at the Clarion Inn Frederick Event Center on Holiday Drive. Tickets are required to attend. For more information, go to keycitysteampunk.com.

(2) comments


“...there is no pressure for historical accuracy.”

Probably because there is no history of which to be accurate. I’ve read and enjoyed steampunk novels but I don’t expect sci-fi to be historically accurate.


Cool. It would be great if it took over the fairgrounds.

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