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Coldwater revels in being 'the new home of Steampunk' (7 photos)

Annual festival brings throngs of fans to Coldwater; 'It's such a great art genre and it affects everything we have in our lives'

Visitors dodged a few showers Saturday and weathered a brisk breeze and cooler-than-usual temperatures, but it didn't stop them from enjoying the wildly popular Coldwater Steampunk Festival.

People teemed through the village's downtown, enjoying entertainers, ogling the unique costumes and stopping to shop the wares of more than 20 vendors who each had something unique.

Vendors offered items ranging from jewelry to costumes while a throw-back street photographer was taking portraits of people on metal, known historically as Tin Types.

Phill Holder has been running the Steampunk Factory on Coldwater Road for many years. He said he and his girlfriend, Tammy Peppler, have enjoyed the Steampunk Festival since it began almost a decade ago.

"It’s amazing and for all ages," Holder said. "We have kids here and the oldest person I had come and buy one of my pieces of art was 91 years old. Ultimately, there’s no age bracket for this type of art.” 

Holder said he got into steampunk, a subgenre of science fiction that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery, by accident.

"I kinda fell into it," he told OrilliaMatters. "I have always been a sculpture artist using recycled parts (and) it’s such a great art genre and it affects everything we have in our lives.” 

The festival attracted a lot of serious enthusiasts such as Mackenzie Hillard, who has been involved with steampunk since high school.

“I didn’t really like the movie Wild Wild West but I really liked the aesthetic of the train where everything was brass, wood, and gears," she explained. "It was all Victorian and I really started to get into the look of it."

But back then, steampunk was not mainstream.

“At that point, it was early on in terms of popularity and it was an underground movement that I just found out about (and) I thought, 'This is amazing.'"

Hillard said she's glad to see the genre come into its own.

“Now that this is a huge thing that everyone knows about, I am very happy that Coldwater is the new home of Steampunk in the Simcoe area.” 

For Green Pary candidate Erik Schomann, it was his first time at the festival. He and his team were on hand to aid the Steampunk Festival organizers with cleaning up garbage left behind by the attendees of the festival and promoting recycling.

“This is my first time being at the Steampunk show and we contacted the organizer and these sort of large events can cause a lot of garbage so my team is here to support their team in terms of the garbage collection,” he added.

Schomann had this to say about the festival's vibe: “When you have visions of the future you can have the Gene Roddenberry (almost) clinical and sterile look or you have what I see here, being a more Jules Verne look, with the same kind of tech just based on different things.” 

The 9th annual festival, which started Friday afternoon, continues until 5:30 p.m. today.