Those hoping to experience magicians, food trucks, street performers, vendors and what is being billed as the World’s Largest Tricycle will be in luck in a few days.
That promise stems from Joy Holman, who predicted that the Old Timers Day Steampunk Festival will be a win-win for organizers, participants and the public alike. The all-ages festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 18 and again from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 19 in the 300-800 blocks of Main Street in downtown Van Buren.
“We will have entertainment in each block, and there will be multiple street performers,” said Holman, who is the vendor coordinator for the festival. “This is our second year to incorporate the Steampunk aspect of the festival, and it’s going to be fun.
“Steampunk incorporates all the gears, the goggles and the eclectic,” she added. “We took that concept from before and ran with it.”
Roger Redden, chairman for the festival, also is anticipating the sights and sounds of the activities.
“Steampunk is as if we were in today or the future, but all of the technology is powered by steam,” he said. “The characters in steampunk are closely related to other character genres, like pirates. You have the Victorian character doing modern things with modern technology, so the juxtaposition between those two technologies create steampunk.”
More than 100 craft and sales vendors are set to be a part of the Steampunk Festival, as are numerous food trucks, magicians, the Splendid Teapot Race, the Steampunk Puppy Contest, the Steampunk Costume Contest, street performers and more. The event is sponsored by the Old Town Merchants Association and was designed to bring community members together while promoting downtown Van Buren; downtown stores and restaurants will be open during the festival, Holman said.
“There are Make-and-Take Classes with the steampunk theme, and that is unique,” she said. “One will have people decorate a steampunk top hat.”
The Splendid Tea Pot Race will call for teapots on remote controlled cars to run through a steampunk obstacle course beginning at 4 p.m. May 18 in front of the future home of the Center for Art & Education on Main Street.
“Last year’s festival was such a success,” Holman said. “We usually have a large crowd — 5,000 to 8,000 people for the weekend — and we are hoping that a big turnout happens again this year for the Old Timers Day Steampunk Festival.
“And it is a good way to promote downtown Van Buren and the area,” she added. “There will be local shopping and local dining, plus out-of-town vendors. There truly is something for everyone.”
Individuals seeking more information on the festival can call (479) 922-6862 or visit the Old Timers Day Steampunk Festival Facebook page and OldTownVanBuren.com.
“I really love the community aspect of this festival,” Holman said. “We do this to try and bring the community together because we want the family, free, fun event for everyone.”
Redden called the Old Timers Day Steampunk Festival a “major steampunk event” that is growing at a rapid rate.
“We have groups coming in from Kansas City, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Little Rock and Memphis, and this is only our second year,” he said.
“Last year was phenomenal. This year will be even better.”