Saturday, April 5, 2014

Steam Punk'd

Can You Say 'Disappointment?'
It's no secret that I live in the Philly suburbs of Southeastern PA. It's also no secret that I am enamored of the Steampunk movement. Hell, this blog started with me posting about my Steampunk-inspired production of "The Skin of Our Teeth." I've always wanted to attend one of the big Steampunk events, most of which were held in cities far away and/or at times inconvenient for Uncle P to travel. So imagine my excitement when I discovered that Bucks County's very own arts community of New Hope was holding their first ever 'Steampunk Fantasy Faire.'

My college friend Deb, her husband Jon and their daughter Caitlin immediately jumped aboard; equally excited to attend our first real Steampunk event. We bought our tickets and were very psyched for the vendors, performing artists and events promised. We even arrived about an hour early to make sure we were able to both park and get in, spending about half an hour at a nearby McDonald's, nursing coffees and soft drinks. 

Finally, it was time. We made our way back up the hill to where the main events were being held. According to the brochures and the website, there were going be vendors; circus acts; comedy troupes; musicians and much more. Well, there were vendors (about 2 dozen or so) and a 'comedy' troupe that was funny by default. I bought a small picture frame (while coveting some other amazing items) and we watched a short, unoriginal and completely predictable film. Among the costumed participants was a rather imposingly large man dressed as Jason Vorhees. While his costume was spot-on, I had no idea what he had to do with Steampunk. The band we saw was quite good, though technical problems and noise from the vendors' area right behind made them hard to hear at times (I didn't understand a single lyric). The jugglers who accompanied them were in obvious need of more practice. They were followed by a 'comedy improv' group who were meant to be Steampunk Pirates of some sort, though it was quite obvious that none of them had spent enough time working with one another to present any sort of coherent act (much to the ironic amusement of my companions).

After a few hours we made our way into town proper, where we had an excellent lunch at Triumph Brewery and I ate what may well be the most delicious Turkey Melt I've ever had. After lunch, we headed down to the shops along Main Street, many of which were empty. I was actually saddened to see New Hope's halcyon days gone, with many of my favorite stores shuttered and/or replaced by inferior retailers.

Truth be told, this is the kind of entertainment we were hoping to find (as promised in the event's brochures):

Sadly, this was not the case. It seems that New Hope, once a cutting-edge, gay-friendly arts town has gone the way of Philadelphia's South Street. The once exciting and intriguing shops are gone (or on their way out), replaced by corporate retailers, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. Ugh! Hopefully, the Steampunk World's Fair in Piscataway, NJ (also within driving distance of Uncle P) this May will prove to be a more satisfying event. Who wants to join me?

To be fair, this was the first time New Hope hosted such an event. And despite being rather disorganized and small, we all managed to have a good time. Let's see what they come up with next year...

More, anon.

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