Mr. Flip’s Carnival
What: Fairhaven Steampunk Festival
When: 10 am Sat., Jul. 28
Where: Fairhaven Village Green
Cost: Entry is free
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Be aware that if you make your way to the Fairhaven Village Green any time during the hours of 10am-5pm on Sat., July 28, an alternate reality involving time travel, weird glasses, multiple clocks, burnished leather and tightened corsets might become part of your weekend agenda.
That’s because it’s once again time for “Fantastical Mr. Flip’s Carnival of Wonders & Curiosities,” also known as the Fairhaven Steampunk Festival. For an afternoon, the mild-mannered green space behind Village Books will transform into a spectacular showcase of steampunk-focused music, art, jewelry and literature, celebrating the imagination of Victorian style with a technology twist.
If you’re into it, create your most courageous, creative and outrageous costume for a contest and parade, or simply show up and visit dozens of vendors who will offer fashion, food and fantasy wares for sale. Live entertainment will also be on the lineup, as will family-friendly activities and overlooked Victorian-era wonders related to electricity, mechanics, literature, music, arts, crafts and more.
Those caught unaware might be wondering what all the excitement is about, and what in the heck the movement means. While many people are likely already aware steampunk is a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology, they’re likely not clued in on its origins.
For the uninitiated, an 11am talk inside Village Books helmed by Maple Valley-based author Jeffrey Cook may help bring things into focus. In his “What is Steampunk?” presentation, Cook will discuss the history of the genre, its roots in 1960s literature and movies, its predecessors and inspirations, and where some of the modern explosion came from. If you’re lucky, he might even read a passage or two from his bestselling Dawn of Steam series.
For more backstory on the local movement, look to Bellingham Steampunk Society members to fill you in. They’ll likely be happy to tell you about the beginnings of the festival in the fall of 2011, when a group of them gathered in full steampunk and Victoriana garb at a debut author’s book release party to show their support.
“We surprised the author with our numbers and brought together steampunks and civilians under one banner—the love of a good book,” organizers say.
The event also introduced them to Caleb “Flip” Kors, who was only 9 years old at the time, but was already wowing audiences with performances at the Bellingham Circus Guild—where he was its youngest member. He, too, was in costume, and appeared to be enthralled with his surroundings.
“The Steampunk Society was quite impressed with this youth; his effort, charisma and presentation, so they made him an honorary member, the youngest of the group,” they say. He’d been given the nickname “Mr. Flip” due to his gymnastic talents, and asked organizers if he could return the following year to take part in the event. They, of course, said yes.
Sadly, Caleb passed away between that festival and the following one. But his love for performing and sharing with his community stuck with the members of the Bellingham Steampunk Society, and as the event grew, it was as “Fantastical Mr. Flip’s Carnival of Wonders & Curiosities.”
“The BSPS has kept their promise to that young boy,” they say. “Even going so far as to name the event after him, knowing he will be there in spirit, each and every year.”
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