FERGUS – What if society stopped progressing during the steam era and harnessed steam to power itself into the future?
That’s the alternative history steampunk enthusiasts ponder and that aesthetic is coming in full force to a new festival planned for Fergus this fall.
The Cogs & Clockwork Steampunk Festival is set to transform Downtown Fergus into a retro-futuristic Victorian experience running all day on Sept. 9 with St. Andrew Street closed between Tower and St. David.
Festival organizer Tony DeLuca, a local goldsmith, said he went to a similar event in Coldwater, Ont., that he described as super cool with thousands of people attending.
He described steampunk as a cross between science fiction and fantasy in an alternative history where society used steam through the future instead of electricity with a Victorian-era look.
“You have anything from futuristic ray guns and jetpacks to people with wands and magic books as costume concepts and ideas. Automatons and robots are totally part of the genre,” DeLuca said, adding the robots are not clean cut and modern looking.
“There’s quite a following, their costuming, most people make their own costumes or buy parts of costumes and put them together themselves. So there’s a wide selection of vintage Victorian clothing that they bring into it … a very fun creative group of people.”
When he learned the Coldwater festival wouldn’t be going forward in 2023, he thought there could be an opportunity for Fergus.
DeLuca said he’s hoping for anywhere from 40 to 60 vendors but it’s not just a festival to buy things but an experience.
“We’re doing a fashion show, I’ve got circus performers coming, I got somebody doing teapot races, we’re doing a scavenger hunt,” DeLuca said.
He is also planning to use the accessible patio built on Provost Lane for things like artist demos or book readings.
Already a town with multiple different festivals, DeLuca said Fergus is ideally situated to host something like this as it’s close enough to large city centres to draw in those interested from places like Toronto, Barrie, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph and Hamilton.
The timing of the festival also has the attendees in mind. While the second weekend of September was free, he noted it’s out of the peak of summer which he hoped means it will be less hot for those in costume which often includes multiple layers.
It’s also the weekend before the Amherstburg steampunk festival which means vendors and attendees could do both if they desired, DeLuca explained.
While there’s still much to plan and volunteers to gather, DeLuca is confident this festival can be a success and hopes to be able to expand it to multiple days.
The Cogs & Clockwork Steampunk Festival is set to take over Downtown Fergus on Sept. 9 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.