Friday, May 20, 2016

Splendid Teapot Racing at the Steampunk World's Fair

This year, teapot racing was added to the schedule at the Steampunk World's Fair for the first time.

The quickly growing popularity of this sport was evident in the crowded boardroom where the Splendid Teapot Racing panel was held Saturday morning. This picture was taken at the conclusion of the panel, after some people had already left. Before that, it had been standing room only and two of the attendees stepped out into the hall, to make room for other people who were trying to enter.

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I had the honor of being one of the panelists, along with the founding fathers of American teapot racing, Stephen Chapman and Daniel Lee Hawk.

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The medals and trophies created by Lois Wallace:

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The race itself was early (9:00 a.m.) on Sunday morning. On day three of a convention that includes late night activities, 9:00 a.m. is a difficult time. This past Sunday, the difficulty was increased by President Obama speaking at the commencement at near-by Rutger's University. People who were not staying in the host hotels, were redirected at road blocks. My family ended up seeing much more of the town and Rutger's than we intended, after receiving bad directions and getting lost. As a result, we missed most of the teapot racing, but Blaze and I were still allowed to race once we got there.

Daniel Hawk captured the whole race on video:

The main race was followed by the chaos that is Teapot Drag Racing. Many of the racers were on the same frequency, which caused them to go wildly astray and look more like bumper cars, except for Daniel Hawk's little teapot racer, which zoomed straight for the finish line.

My husband's video of the drag race:

James Hatton was the MC for the races. I don't believe he had ever seen a teapot race before. He had, also, been Master of Ceremony for the Speakeasy and burlesque show the night before, so he should have been half-asleep at an early morning event like this, but a true showman never lets the audience down. He kept things moving at a good pace, filled in the "dead time" created by the judges calculations, and kept the crowd laughing.

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He was so excited about teapot racing that he became airborne:

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The judges inspecting the racers:

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There were so many creative entries!

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Tallying the points:

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The coin toss, because two racers were tied for first place:

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The winners:

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One person, who showed up with a racer at the panel, never showed up at the race. I had been looking forward to seeing his teapot racer in operation, because it both drove along the ground and flew, which raised some interesting new questions about rules. I don't know if he overslept or was lost some where in Piscataway, NJ.

There was a good turnout for the races, which increased in number as the races went on, but I have a feeling that it would have attracted even more contestants and spectators if it had been held at a more sensible hour. Personally, I'm a fan of teapot races at teatime.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

More of the Steampunk World's Fair 2016

"People watching" was a big part of the fun. There were so many creative costumers!

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Blaze and I attended The Queen's Tea, a tea party where we were able to try several kinds of tea and eat pastries. The hosts asked tea related trivia questions and the winners were given additional packages of tea as prizes.

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The gift bags at each place setting were full of both single-size and pot-size tea bags for each attendee  to take home, so we left with a lot of tea.

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Blaze and I were wandering aimlessly when we noticed a crowd of people and went to investigate. It turned out that what they were watching was a puppet show. Pineland Puppets has, very cleverly,  updated classic Punch and Judy shows by preforming them as the Joker and Harley Quinn.

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This works amazingly well and modern children still enjoy the slapstick humor of the original scripts.
One adorable toddler came running up to watch while we were standing there, she stood watching for a minute, giggling the cutest, infectious giggle, and then pushed her way between two strangers to make room for herself on a couch, so she could watch the rest of the show.

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Later in the day, Blaze and I were witnesses to puppet Joker and Harley Quinn meeting human Joker and Harley Quinn.

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It rained off and on all weekend, but during one of the dry periods, we also enjoyed watching an aerialist perform.

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And, of course, there was more music.

Frenchy and the Punk:

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Steampunk World's Fair: The Convention is in the Eye of the Beholder

This past weekend was our first time going to the Steampunk World's Fair. I had no idea what to expect.

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Since the con is focused on steampunk and no other genre, it is not as big as DragonCon, but it is larger than any of the Florida steampunk exposes or festivals I've been to. As such, it is possible for two people to experience the weekend in totally different ways. I realized this, when a friend told me that he thought it was more of a vendors' convention than anything else. I had made the rounds of vendors rooms and hotel rooms cleverly turned into stores by the time he said that, so there was no arguing with his point of view. There are many shopping opportunities at the fair. I had formed a different view by that time, though, and had decided that it was a music festival above all else.

There was music everywhere, even in the hallway. This DJ referred to his set-up as "suitcase music".

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Blaze and I began our Steampunk World's Fair experience by taking a waltzing class.

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This was followed by seeing/hearing a lot of great live music.

Night Watch Paradox:

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with more cowbell.

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The Nathaniel Johnstone Band:

They may have lacked cowbells, but they had everything else: talented musicians, Tempest's beautiful dancing, Dogwood's energy, enthusiasm, and fantastic vocals, and Nathaniel Johnstone's very expressive face, while he demonstrated his ability to play multiple instruments.

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This Way to the Egress:

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The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing:

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Those were only the shows we saw on Friday.

Pictures from the Steampunk World's Fair to be continued...

Crafty Crow