Gears, goggles and brass: Steampunk festival draws crowds in Van Buren

Ty Thompson
Press Argus-Courier
Van Buren held its annual Old Timers Steampunk festival on May 8 and 9. Main Street in Van Buren was filled with vendors and performers from multiple states.

Gears, goggles and victorian clothing filled the street of Van Buren over the weekend during the Old Timers Steampunk Festival.

Vendors and performers from multiple states joined in on the festivities May 8-9.

According to Old Town Van Buren, the organization in charge of the festival, upwards of 10,000 to 15,000 people enjoy the steampunk fest each year. 

Steampunk can be categorized as what the future may have looked like to people living in the Victorian era. The fashion aspect of steampunk focuses on what was available at the time with a fantastical view. People sporting the steampunk style can be seen wearing leather, gears, top hats, brass, and sometimes body modifications on the limbs or face.

Hanging from a stoplight on Main Street was a large blimp with a woman riding a bicycle hanging from it. This sculpture was created by local artist Brandon Rapier. He presented more of his artwork at the festival in a booth underneath the blimp.

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Tie-Dye Glassworks from St. Louis sold their handmade glass artwork and soy candles. Ken Pitts of Tie-Dye Glassworks created his earrings and pendants live by melting glass rods with a torch and forming them into wearable works of art.

Jefferson Parker from Wichita, Kansas brought his penny farthing, a high-wheeled bicycle from the late 1800s. When he was not riding it down Main Street, Parker was giving assisted rides to anyone who wanted to try it out.

Tom's Feathers from Ketchum, Oklahoma displayed his handmade leather Steampunk accessories. This included top hats, animal masks, wizards hats, and more all made from leather. 

On the entertainment side of things, The New Curmudgeon County Ramblers, consisting of Jim Skinner and Pat Clark, played their Americana-style music on the street throughout both days. Other live music was provided by local musicians Brett N Terry, Avery Stinnett from Jones, Oklahoma, and Paden Baggett from Fort Smith.

The next festival that Van Buren has planned will be the Downtown Junk Fest during Labor Day weekend.