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Steampunk Society of Vermont

December 22, 2020

Feb 2019

By Stephen Handley, Jr.

            A subgenre of science fiction, Steampunk pairs the Victorian era with a plethora themes and myths to complement designs inspired by 19th century industrial steam power. Originating in the 1800’s, Steampunk was named by sci-fi writer K.W. Jeter to explain his work and that of other comparable authors. It draws from Jules Verne’s 2,000 Leagues Under the Sea and H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds; becoming a term in the 1980’s as a reference to cyberpunk. It differs from Neo-Victorian in that it uses technology. Popularized in the late 2000’s by capitalizing on cabaret and goth, you can find it as books, music, fashion, and podcasts. An outfit may be found at a thrift store, antique shop or Amazon.

            Founded in 2015, the Steampunk Society of Vermont, Ltd. sponsors an annual scholarship to a deserving high school student in the Springfield, VT area – Precision Valley in Windsor County. Via the Steampunk movement, local schools assist the Society with getting young people to participate in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) subjects.

            On April 6, 2019 the non-profit Steampunk Society of Vermont will feature a fundraiser event hosted by the Hartness House in Springfield, VT. “Cartoon Cosplay Rewind” will run from 7:00 p.m. to midnight, the theme being 1980’s and 90’s cartoons. There will be a DJ, a cartoon-themed photo booth, 80’s and 90’s era games and activities, and cartoons on TV. For tickets, visit www.eventbrite.com and use the search term “Cartoon Cosplay Rewind.”  

            During the 3rd weekend in September, the Springfield, Vermont Steampunk Festival aims to bring together Steampunk devotees to promote the Town of Springfield as the Steampunk Capital of Vermont and fundraise for local organizations and the scholarship. It features vendors, discussion panels, tea dueling, a fashion show, live music, and many other activities. It has grown from 500 -700 attendees over the years. Go to www.steampunksocietyvt.org for more information.

            Springfield’s past with machine tool shops makes it an ideal home for the Steampunk Society of Vermont. The town’s motto is “Progress through Precision” and highlights of its history include: the invention of the spring clothespin, a machine tool production so substantial that Springfield became a target for Germany during WWII, an Olympic gold medalist (Albert Lovejoy Gutterson, long jump, 1912), and painter Asahel Lynde Powers.

            The President of the Steampunk Society of Vermont’s Board of Directors is Lisa Mobus, whose Steampunk outfit of choice is a librarian. “It’s all about innovation and imagination,” she said, noting that she chooses to don a top hat, goggles, bookbag, boots, and a magnifying glass.

            The Society’s mission in part is “to draw attention to the rich history of Springfield and encourage melding that history with modern purpose and function.  We strive to unite the local community in supporting our effort to help in the revitalization of Springfield…. thus, supporting the local community.” With that, Springfield just might be the Steampunk capital of Vermont.

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