It’s easy for weekend visitors to Coldwater to feel somewhat under-dressed.
With thousands pouring into the picturesque village to check out this year’s three-day Coldwater Steampunk Festival and hundreds more sporting an array of related retro and futuristic attire, the small locale felt more like a bustling city wedged in time somewhere between the years 1800 and 2200.
“It’s fantastic,” said festival chair Suzy Burtenshaw. “The weather’s perfect and there’s so much to see. The costumes are amazing and the art is inspiring.”
This year’s festival, which began Thursday with a special ‘rods and classics’ car extravaganza, wrapped up Saturday as hundreds of costumed participants and visitors enjoyed their time at various village venues.
John Sproule followed the festival's Oceanic theme to a tee; he was sporting a caged octopus as a chapeau.
“I decided to take my octopus for a walk,” quipped Sproule, who noted he loves the whole Steampunk experience and has been participating since 2011.
“I just like the diversity of it. It's incredible and everybody has a good time. Just dress up and enjoy it.”
Another participant, who goes by the moniker Zelius Bobeton Fishinagen, described himself as a time traveller. In fact, he even had a large, homemade time machine strapped to his back.
“I sometimes end up here and other times in Niagara-on-the-Lake,” he said. “Most of the time, it's Toronto. I travel from timeline to timeline.”
Kat Giles from Newmarket and Keswick's Ian Prosty have also become Steampunk enthusiasts.
“It's fun and always different,” said Giles, who was dressed as a Victorian-era librarian and even had a necklace spelling out letters of the alphabet. “It gives you an opportunity to be creative.”
Added Prosty: “The whole aura of Victorian times and the mechanical aspect of some of the costumes is very neat. This is a good way to have fun and use your imagination.”
While Midland resident Lorna Raycraft doesn't dress up, she said she just loves seeing the ingenuity people put into their garb and related accessories.
“I've been coming here since it started,” she said. “The people are so friendly and the costumes are amazing. It's a very unique event. It's really built up since the first year. I've never seen this many people.”
To get an idea of how popular this event has become over the years, one only needs to consider the more than 3,000 people who showed up for Friday evening’s salute to all things Harry Potter.
“When else can an adult have fun and dress up?” asked Midland resident Kim Peabody, who noted her costume depicts a Victorian-era 'fallen woman.'
“The first year I came here I didn't have a costume. But it just looked like so much fun that I started putting things together to create one. I love coming here and also love Hallowe'en.”
Penetanguishene-area resident Darren Morrison dressed up for the first time this year at the urging of his wife Lisa, who attended last year with son Riley.
“For a small town like Coldwater this is a great event,” Morrison said. “As well, it's the perfect setting and is interesting to see how much work people put into their costumes.”
Orillia's Bobbi Parnell and her eight-year-old daughter Morgan also followed the family dress-up theme.
“This is our first year here,” Parnell said, noting her friend Michelle Dunn has been participating for years and encouraged them to try it out since everyone seems to have so much fun.
Many attending Saturday took time to check out Colin Rae's portable steam engine, which would have been used more than hundred years ago to help with tasks such as pumping water and sawing timber.
“This is my sixth year here,” said Rae, who lives in the Township of Georgian Bay and was helped out throughout the day by Gabe Killaire.
“It's been great with people flocking to this machine to see it working.”
There were also other exhibits, buskers, knights, vikings, historical reenactments and craft demonstrations plus a working blacksmith shop spread out across the village as well as dozens of vendors selling a wide variety of wares, including many with an historical bent.
Where else but the Steampunk Festival can one hear a vendor say? “Fill out a ballot for a chance to win a corset.”