On both Saturday and Sunday, a block of downtown Dunsmuir was closed off to traffic and filled with vendors, food booths, and hundreds of people. Many dressed up in steampunk fashion, which can best be described as “Victorian era meets futuristic steam industry inventions,” setting the stage for Dunsmuir’s first Steampunk Festival.

A new event in Dunsmuir turned out so well over the weekend, plans were being made for next year even before the two-day Steampunk Festival ended.

On both Saturday and Sunday, a block of downtown Dunsmuir was closed off to traffic and filled with vendors, food booths, and hundreds of people. Many dressed up in steampunk fashion, which can best be described as “Victorian era meets futuristic steam industry inventions,” setting the stage for Dunsmuir’s first Steampunk Festival.

Events included a fundraiser pie social, makerspace activities for both children and adults, a costume competition and three different bands playing throughout each day.

Saturday’s bands – mostly local – were The Ryan Dart Trio, Sound Farm, and Secret Society Handshake.

Day two started out with a pancake breakfast and then a car show, more live music and dancing that lasted long after 4 p.m. when the event was supposed to end. All the while, people in costumes acted in character. There was even an impromptu fire breathing performance at 3 p.m.

The bands on Sunday were Ryan Dart Trio and Distance to the Sun. There was also a quilt raffle.

“Steampunk is an adaption of industrial invasion of the world,” said Harold Fantel, who builds early industrial steam-age lamps from the WWI and WWII eras. Even his car, which was in the steampunk car show, was rebuilt after a minor collision with “widgets and gadgets” to now look totally steampunk.

“Everything is repurposed,” he said. “Like a masquerade ball, that’s the whole idea is creation – like Willy Wonka. The widgets and gadgets were reaping the rewards of those industrial times. It was simpler and exciting back then because it was all new.”

Scarlett Rose, like so many other steampunks, built her costume and accessories by repurposing of old items. Even her handheld fan was made from old metal vegetable strainer.

“What if steam became the dominant energy instead of oil?” she said. “Steampunk exploded 20-30 years ago. Some steampunk groups and clubs get together to create and develop characters. They do this because it is fun. I belong to one. I am a Clan Wind Mage. I direct the wind for our vessel. My group is called ‘The Strange Crows.’”

“Many different north state cities have steampunk societies,” said event coordinator Richard Dinges. “We had people come from Oregon, San Francisco, Sacramento, Chico, Redmond even a group from Oakland. People changed into different costumes on the second day. Though steampunk takes place in the industrial era when we were making steam engines, we had people dressed in other costumes.

These included belly dancers, pirates, and others who didn’t dress up at all, Dinges said.

“We had more people say that they want to make sure we do this again next year,” he added. “Dunsmuir needed something fresh held in the ‘not so summer time’ to bring people into town.”

Dinges estimates that there were about 800 people at the festival on Saturday and about 400 to 500 on Sunday.

“Even with the rain shower on Sunday, people huddled under awnings but wandered about afterwards. The vendors and the stores fared well with a lot of foot traffic,” Dinges said.

Arlene Dinges, who volunteers with the Dunsmuir Chamber of Commerce describes steampunk best: “It is a cross of Victorian and sci-fi. It has great energy. We are learning that there is a steampunk genre. It is in movies like ‘Around the World in 80 Days,’ ‘Wild Wild West,’ ‘Mad Max,’ and the Jules Verne era. It is using steam energy with lots of gizmos and moving parts.”

The car show on Sunday was a hit. A chopped Volkswagen, Harold Fantel’s steampunk Subaru, a Desoto from the 20s, a 1917 Model T, and an old truck of unknown origins all won prizes. They fit right in with the crazy ambience of the festival.

Many people in attendance said that they have never been to downtown Dunsmuir.

Steampunk renaissance enthusiast Angela Worthington from Ono. “I have never been to downtown Dunsmuir. It is really quaint. They need to do more fun events like this,” she said.

“Hopefully this will pick up and be an annual event,” said Weed’s Ryan Coates.

“I am always in the mood for steampunk. It is Victorian science fiction where anything goes,” said Christina Carver from Grants Pass, Ore.

“It’s far out,” said Yreka’s Josh Nehring. “I didn’t even know how to dress but I feel I fit in anyway. People got really creative.”

Laura and Tony Baldwin dressed in plain clothes. They were carrying many items they bought from the vendors.

“I had no idea how to dress for this but we are looking forward to it next year,” said Laura.

Arlene Dinges thanked everyone who helped make the festival such a success.

“We had great security and had no problems. The sheriffs made themselves visible. And of course, none of this would have happened if it weren’t for our city and our sponsors – Pace Engineering, Pizza Factory, Cave Springs, Railroad Park Resort, Dunsmuir Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club of Dunsmuir, Ted Fay Fly Shop, Wonderland Distributing Company, LaFlorista, Dunsmuir Brew Works, Steve Richardson Art & Design, Carolyn Rivard, Steve Leonardi, Dunsmuir Street Market, Pacific Corp, Jefferson Backroads, Spirit’s Bar, and Manfredi’s Food and Gas and all our volunteers.”