In three days, Cortland County will be stepping back from the 21st century and immersing itself in the finery of a history that never was. Gears to Corsets, a steampunk-themed festival, will be the area's first, and will provide the creatives and artists an opportunity to showcase their fandom, or give those unfamiliar with the subgenre a new world to delve into.
The family-friendly event will take place September 27, 28 and 29 at various locations throughout the county. Entertainment will be found by way of workshops, vendors, performances, and photo-ops, just to name a few,
So throw on your brocade vests, corset tops, goggles and top hats and prepare for your imaginations to take flight.
WHAT IS STEAMPUNK?
For the uninitiated, the term steampunk was coined in the 1980s and incorporates steam-powered machinery with 19th century aesthetics and technology - in its simplest form, the definition of steampunk is Victorian-era science fiction. The genre originally encompassed literature, with the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne leading the way, but eventually branched out to incorporate art, fashion and film. Think Wild Wild West and Sherlock Holmes.
So why Cortland County you ask? Wandering the streets of its cities, towns and villages, you'll find yourself immersed in a steampunk wonderland, with pristine Victorian architecture, and an extensive history embodying the steampunk spirit.
Cortland was built by Victorian industrialists who used new machines to fabrication methods to drive economic development. Companies like Brockway Carriage, The Wickwire Brothers and the Cortland Corset Company created a hotbed of innovation. In Upstate New York, we saw the traditions and fashions of the Victorian Era clash with the introduction of new technologies.
The festival will begin on Friday, September 27th and run through Sunday, September 29th at various locations throughout Cortland County. The four main hubs for events include The 1890 House Museum, the CNY Living History Center, Cortland County Historical Society and the Cortland Corset Building, with several other businesses hosting their own Steampunk-themed events.
A Festival Guide including daily schedules, maps and shuttle stops will be available on the shuttles and the four main locations. A digital version is also available here. Not quite sure what venue to explore next or need directions to the next workshop? Please direct any questions you might have during the festival to individuals wearing pins labeled 'Gears to Corsets Staff'.
To help attendees navigate the area, Cortland Transit will be providing free shuttle buses that will run on a continuous loop between six stops: County Office Building, CNY Living History Center, Homer Green, County Historical Society, 1890 House, Corset Building and back to the County Office Building. The free service will be available Saturday, September 28th from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, September 29th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
These shuttle bus rides will also feature actors in period dress, providing riders with interesting historical facts about Cortland County as they travel from location to location and bringing the entire county into play.
PROMENADE & FASHION SHOW
Attendees will have the opportunity to show off their best steampunk and 19th century attire at the Gears to Corsets Promenade, Saturday at Historic Courthouse Park in Downtown Cortland. The free event requires no registration, simply come dressed in your finest steampunk outfit. The Promenade will begin to loop around the park at 10 a.m. as guest judges take notes on participants' garments, inviting their favorites to the Steampunk Fashion Show to be held at the Downtown Cortland Repertory Theatre at 2 p.m. Those who are chosen will receive an invitation and have the opportunity to win great prizes.
In case of inclement weather, the Promenade will be moved to the Downtown Cortland Repertory Theatre at 2 p.m., and the Fashion Show will immediately follow.
Gears to Corsets is unique in its set-up. The festival will feature events at multiple locations throughout the county, and feature many participating organizations.
Edgar Allan Poe will be making an appearance at The 1890 House Museum throughout the weekend. Experience a full live performance adaptations of Poe's favorite stories while touring the museum during 'Nevermore…An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe', brought to you by Half Light Theatre ($18/person; Friday and Saturday, 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.). Half Light Theatre will also be reading a collection of his poetry masterpieces accompanied by original music from Jeff Wahl on Saturday and Sunday, every quarter hour between 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
The CNY Living History Center will not only be a three-day vendor location, but they will also host a variety of exhibits and workshops throughout the festival. From a 1931 Brockway Hearse to a taxidermy display, an Engine Show to a Cyanotype workshop, there will be something for all to enjoy. For those wishing to explore CNY Living History Center's three museums, a $10 admission is required.
Hop on the shuttle to the Cortland County Historical Society on Saturday to delve into their exhibit detailing local inventors and the county's corset industry. The Historical Society will also have a booth set up at the Cortland Corset Building with information about the Cortland Wagon Industry and what might have been the first-ever Motor Bike Industry.
The variety of businesses within the historic Cortland Corset Building will have workshops and classes starting Friday afternoon. The multi-use venue will be home to two days of vendor sales, as well as Friday's Steampunk-themed Happy Hour featuring Dragonfyre Distillery, Homer Hops and Long Point Winery. Light snacks will be available courtesy of Anderson's Farm Market (must be 21+ to consume alcohol). Cinch Art Space will also host a 2-hour workshop on the Finer Points of Octopus Illustration ($45; Friday, 6 p.m.), make steampunk-themed wearables at Magpie Custom Creations, or channel your inner Van Gogh at Instant Artist who will be offering four different make and take classes throughout the weekend.
Outside of the four main host locations, several other business will be holding events throughout the weekend. Paint and sip your way through a topiary class at Cheerful & Creative (Friday, 6 p.m.), or take part in a Stupendous Stache & Bodacious Beard Competition at Gio's Barber Shop (Saturday, 5 p.m.). The Finger Lakes Tasting & Tap Room will host a tasting of seven Seneca Lake wines on Friday (7 p.m.) and welcome The Ghost Town Ramblers on Saturday for an evening of live music.
Wrap up your Saturday festivities with a late night movie at the Center for the Arts Homer where they will be showing the Director's Cut of THX1138. The 1971 American science fiction film was George Lucas' film directorial debut.
Gears to Corsets has drawn a variety of vendors bringing their beautiful works of art, and craftsmanship. Not only will you find Steampunk-themed items, but a wide variety of clothing, art, books, jewelry and unique creations.
Have a real Victorian tintype created with a 19th century camera and lens with John Milleker Photography. Mean Eyes Design and Colibri Studios have created Steampunk-inspired jewelry for the festival, while Rachel Lee Designs and Mizu Marbling will be showcasing their unique artwork. Browse the collection of handmade and hand bound books from Bound for Glory, and vintage clocks and pocket watches from Timesmith Antiques.
The individuals will be located at the CNY Living History Center and the Corset Building from 3 p.m. - 5 p.m. on Friday, September 27, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 28. The CNY Living History Center will also host vendors on Sunday, September 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
Care for a tipple? Enjoy a cocktail named after local inventors and manufacturers at one of these local eateries: BRIX Pubaria, Central City Bar & Grill, The Community, The Dark Horse, Dasher's Corner Pub & Grill, Finger Lakes Tasting & Tap Room, Hairy Tony's Hobo's Bar & Grill, Red Jug Pub, TRAX Pub & Grill and Three Bear Inn. From the creator of the Salsibury Steak to Brockway Truck history, sip on an adult beverage while learning a bit about Cortland County's past.
In-between workshop and Edgar Allan Poe readings, swing by one of the area's restaurants to grab a quick bite or a sit down meal. If you're dressed in Steampunk attire, these local hot spots will be offering discounts: Central City Bar & Grill, Finger Lakes Tasting & Tap Room, Gable Inn, Gorger's, Hairy Tony's, Hobo's 281 Bar & Grill, Pita Gourmet and TRAX Pub & Grill.
All event details, vendor descriptions, travel information, and more can be found at the official Gears to Corsets website, www.gearstocorsets.com. You can also reach out to the festival organizers via the Contact Form.
Share your Steampunk adventures with us! Tag @experiencecortland and use hashtag #experiencecortland for a chance to be featured.