An Alternative Event Not Associated with JME/SPS/SPWF

Key City Steampunk Festival in May & August!

MARCH 15, 2018 – As someone who only covered Steampunk World’s Fair as press, I wasn’t privy to a lot including the behind-the-scenes trickery that caused the massive event to crumble. My interviews with the SPWF founder were of course only going to be his words talking about how perfectly everything ran. It was my favorite show. I can’t say how disappointed I am to hear that sexual predators were allowed to go about their business because they were part of this JME inner circle.

When Silver Phoenix Society (SPS) said they were taking over, there was little hope. People came down with the real facts about how hard it is to try and put together a show that fell apart knowing important matters like contracts and financial deposits were never going to be completed in time. SPS may have had good heartfelt intentions, but SPWF took at least three people full time and a slew of part-timers and volunteers (some of whom were promised pay they never received). SPS was stepping into a pile of shit, not into big shoes to fill.

from facebook

As you can read in the SPWF announcement on Facebook, the Silver Phoenix Society will refund any monies paid to THEM, but they will not be able to refund anyone who paid Jeff Mach Events before SPS took over. A friend of mine (keeping anonymous) was one of those underappreciated part-time people. They reminded a select group of their friends’ list that the Fair Credit Billing Act should protect anyone who made deposits using a credit card since there was ample proof that the show would not be services as they were sold/expected. That’s definitely great news for attendees. It’s still devastating for the vendors and performers though; they work far in advance to schedule bookings in order to work out tour dates, cover their expenses, and make profits. Cancellations for them are more of a risk than for attendees.

Even as of today, the SPS crew have former JME events on a Facebook calendar, events much smaller than the world’s fair, but still worthy of concern regarding safety and financial misgivings.


If you’re wondering where else you can get your gears going, the answer isn’t drastically far away. It’s Maryland.

Key City banner

Key City Steampunk Festival

Part One

It’s with great excitement that I spotted the post of Wheeler Stone. At first I wondered what his post referencing a May event for a vendor fundraiser was about. He has scheduled a special event for May 19th at the same Clarion hotel as the Key City Steampunk Festival; this special May event appears to be for vendors to try and recuperate any lost deposits due to the SPWF cancellation, but I’m not 100% sure if that’s the motivation. Maybe it’s for vendors to make money to use to table at the big Key City weekend in August. Regardless, it’s a free event for vendors to go sell their wares and that’s basically a small miracle.

From Facebook

Part Two

The main Key City Steampunk Festival is scheduled for August 17-19th. All their details are on their Facebook event page which has a link to purchase tickets and hotel information.

Tickets are up for the Key City Steampunk Festival happening on August 17-19 in Frederick MD!! Just one of the amazing events will include “This Way To the Egress”!!! They will be performing in tandem with Honeybee Burlesque bringing you a live Cabaret/Dark Circus spectacle!! Also don’t forget about special honored guests, Tobias McCurry, Dave Lee, James Neathery, and Joey Marsocci all amazing Makers here to wow you with their art. That mixed with the RC Death-match, panels galore, and just general shennaniganery (see Tobias in full victorian Bustle being jumped by RC cephalopod) make for a ridiculously fun weekend.

~ from Facebook

It’s so wonderful to see familiar names on the Key City roster like This Way to the Egress, one of the most entertaining bands you will ever see on stage! This organization also hosted a Winterfest Market back in December so they definitely have the “steam” to make things happen. Worth noting is that Key City Steampunk Festival is not any kind of retaliation or attempt to fill a void left by SPWF. They’ve been doing this right and have been planning it since last year; plus this isn’t a virgin show. They aren’t rushing around at the last minute trying to get contracts signed or performers lined up. Back in 2016, Wheeler Stone held a Kickstarter to launch the steampunk festival since Frederick, Maryland is the home of the only known Pennyfarthing Race.

Wheeler Stone posted photos last October of what the hotel is like:

Frenchy & the Punk were performers at the 2017 Key City Steampunk Festival (formerly called Steampunk Frederick) and they’ve been regulars up here in New Jersey for SPWF so if you’re thinking of attending Key City, you have a few familiar things while exploring Maryland on a new adventure.


Connect with the organization on Facebook so you don’t miss any announcements. If you’re like me and was only a tiny bit involved in the gloriously creative world of steampunk, it’s good to know of other options for nerding out in public.

One of my favorite reasons for loving the previous SPWF was that I could drive to it. I missed out on some of the late night action, but it was still nice to have an event that didn’t require me to pay hotel fees or be without my cats for days. As someone who was a fan of the Inner Harbor because of Baltimore Comic Con, the wee bit of Maryland I’ve seen looks pretty nice. I have no idea what Frederick is like and I doubt I’ll get to go unless Key City wants to offer me a position to do convention yoga.

steampunk prep

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