More than 2,000 fans of the anachronistic, sci-fi subculture known as Steampunk will take to the dusty streets of Old Tucson this weekend for the Wild, Wild West Steampunk Convention II.
The con, which celebrates all elements of the high-tech Victorian era genre, has fans from as far away as Sweden and New Zealand flying in to attend.
It's the biggest Steampunk gathering in Arizona and is quickly gaining momentum as one of the most prominent in the Southwest.
Spokeswoman Diana Given attributes its success to its surroundings.
"Most cons are based in hotels," said Given, who serves as the vice president of the Arizona Steampunk Society. "We are very lucky to have this theme park as our setting. We are inside what feels like a real Old West town set in Victorian times. When you walk into Old Tucson, it is like you are already in an alternate reality."
The three-day event is packed with panels, workshops and live entertainment.
It will feature more than 100 street characters, from fire performers to stilt-walkers to Victorian tarot card readers, all there to interact with visitors.
Special guests include the Steampunk band Abney Park from Seattle, a "Star Wars" hybrid character from Atlanta known as Steampunk Boba Fett, and the League of S.T.E.A.M, which is a Victorian-era takeoff of the Ghostbusters.
"Their costumes and gadgets are amazing," Given said. "They have one that uses electric eels that provide shocks. It is a very tongue-in-cheek kind of thing."
Steampunk culture and society will be explained in a series of workshops happening throughout the weekend.
An intro to Steampunk class will be taught, in addition to panels on writing Steampunk novels, creating Steampunk costumes on a budget and Victorian medicines.
Aficionado Thomas Willeford, whose Steampunk creations have been featured on shows such as "Castle" and "Oddities," will take part in several talks, including one on the Steampunk television series, "Bruce Boxleitner's Lantern City."
"We really went out of our way to find panelists who were experts in their fields," Given said.
The convention will have its share of interactive features.
The entire park will play a role in a Steampunk scavenger hunt. There will be a fashion show for all and tea duelings for those who purchase "Aristocrat" VIP tickets.
Tea dueling is a Steampunk tradition where players dunk tea biscuits for an extended period of time then eat them, while trying not to lose any fragments or spill any tea on the table.
"People try to psych each other out, see who lasts longer," Given said.
She added that the con will keep people busy.
"It is really important for us to give people choices when they come to our event."
If You go
• What: Wild, Wild West Steampunk Convention II.
• When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Sunday.
• When: Old Tucson Studios, 201 S. Kinney Road.
• Cost: Tickets are $36.50 for an Explorer day pass; $59.50 for a Maverick weekend pass; $235 for an Aristocrat VIP pass. They can be purchased through wildwildwestcon.com online.
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Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at firstname.lastname@example.org or 807-8430.