Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Events

There’s a new con in town for steampunks at Tampa’s fairgrounds

While comic cons regularly see a legion of steampunk afficionados circling the floor in Victorian petticoats and old-timey goggles, this weekend is the first time the cultural phenomenon gets a gathering all its own when Aethertopia opens at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

Steampunk, which has been bubbling in the pop culture background since the Ď80s, is a style of clothing, gadgets and fiction thatís easy to spot but sometimes hard to describe. Usually set in a Victorian era of steam-powered gadgets, it resembles the science fiction of Jules Verne. Except when characters, costumes and devices are set in a post-apocalyptic time or the Old West. And thatís fine, too.

Calling it a cross between a Renaissance festival and a fan convention, Aethertopia creator Anthony Sakovich, who goes by the cosplay name Lord Puddleton, says the gathering on Saturday and Sunday will be steeped in Victorian sensibilities and science fiction.

The name Aethertopia comes from the frequent use in steampunk fiction of "aether," the magic element that keeps airships afloat or allows for Victorian Era interplanetary travel. The storyline goes that Aethertopia is "a city of artisans and makers who have transported across time" and are landing in Tampa this weekend, Sakovich said. Visitors will walk through seven "districts" of Aethertopia, such as the Hatters Guild and the Storytellers Guild.

RELATED: Here are 6 conventions coming to Tampa Bay to geek out on video games, comic books, anime and horror.

Since so much of steampunk is about clever creations, the focus on makers is big, with a Peopleís Choice contest for the fabulous hats, props and story tellers in each district, as well as a judged Great Maker Contest of artwork, clothing, writing, devices and gear. There will be a daily "costume pageant."

Hands-on workshops will show attendees how to turn things like hats or a Nerf gun steampunk, and educational symposiums ó "Theodore Talks" ó will have sessions on steampunk and its inspirations, such as "Time Travel in Theory and Practice" and "Secrets of Smart Thrifting." All are included with admission.

Entertainment includes storytellers, musicians, dancers, plus a Steampunk Ball on Saturday night, free for attendees.

A 400-square-foot Lego play area will be open for kids. Games will include "teapot racing" (think remote control cars, except the car has been replaced by a teapot and you have to navigate an obstacle course) and "parasol dueling" (think rock, paper, scissors, except a twirl of the parasol beats a planted parasol held point down to the ground).

"Steampunks really shouldnít have a convention since itís not historically supported, they should have a worldís fair or a giant symposium," said Sakovich, 55, a marketing executive from New Port Richey who sports a glorious set of mutton chops as side whiskers. "Thatís why we worked in a whole story line of a city that travels through time and it needs a room big enough to hold it."

With almost 1,800 fans on the Tampa Bay Steampunk Society Facebook group, Sakovich said he expects do draw a few thousand fans each day this weekend, where the main motivation is instructional.

"We want people to be entertained, but really itís about being inspired. Itís about doing not watching."

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at swynne@tampabay.com. Follow @SharonKWn.

Comments
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Nov. 14

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Nov. 14

Meet the sandsculpting masters or catch Andrew Dice Clay’s standup
Published: 11/13/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Nov. 13

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Nov. 13

Tuesday’s events include Christina Aguilera in concert and $10 admission at the James Museum.
Published: 11/12/18
Restaurant review: New St. Petersburg hot spot Dr. BBQ delivers on flair and solid, elevated barbecue

Restaurant review: New St. Petersburg hot spot Dr. BBQ delivers on flair and solid, elevated barbecue

The folks behind Datz teamed up with Dr. BBQ himself, Ray Lampe.
Published: 11/12/18
Fluid Expressions, a new Tampa theater, debuts with Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog

Fluid Expressions, a new Tampa theater, debuts with Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog

The Pulitzer-winning play zeroes in on brothers named Lincoln and Booth. And a theater created by and for minorities gets off to a strong start.
Published: 11/12/18

Hamilton tickets go on sale in Tampa this week. Here's what you need to know.

Immediately after announcing it had booked Hamilton, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts had to revise its automated phone greeting. Fans calling about Hamilton could press 1. Everyone wanted to know when tickets were going on sale...
Published: 11/09/18
Updated: 11/13/18

Florida Orchestra, Holocaust Museum collaborate in a stirring A Child of Our Time

TAMPA ó Eighty years ago this weekend, Nazi rioters unleashed a wave of antisemitic violence and rage. Whipped up by the propaganda minister and aided by the Gestapo, they killed scores of citizens, burned hundreds of synagogues, and vandalized or de...
Published: 11/09/18
Updated: 11/10/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Nov. 12-18

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Nov. 12-18

Our editors’ picks for the best things to do this week around Tampa Bay.
Published: 11/09/18
Updated: 11/10/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay on Saturday Nov. 10

Top things to do in Tampa Bay on Saturday Nov. 10

R. Kelly: Donít be surprised to see protesters outside tonightís concert by the popular singer, songwriter, producer who crowns himself as the "King of R&B" who is bringing along R&B sensation Keyshia Cole and Adina Howard. 8 p.m., Yuengling Center (...
Published: 11/09/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay on Sunday, Nov. 11

Top things to do in Tampa Bay on Sunday, Nov. 11

Ribfest: This final day of music, ribs and fair food brings headliners Los Lonely Boys and Barenaked Ladies. Opens at 12 p.m., Vinoy Park, 501 Fifth Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. $20. (727) 528-3828; ribfest.org.Shakespeare in the City: The St. Petersburg...
Published: 11/09/18
Cuteness alert: Litter of African painted dogs born at ZooTampa

Cuteness alert: Litter of African painted dogs born at ZooTampa

Need a stress reliever? ZooTampa at Lowry Park is celebrating the births of seven rare African painted dogs, and they are awfully cute.The multi-colored pups are the first of this endangered African species to be born at the Tampa zoo. They also are ...
Published: 11/08/18
Updated: 11/09/18