Now that I have recuperated a bit from the peak energy output of putting on the steampunk festival I want to thank all the people and organizations who had a hand in pulling it off.
First of all there is my partner Chelsea Goodwin who first thought of the idea of holding a steampunk festival in Pine Hill two or three years ago. She helped me learn about steampunk community, and convinced me that we should vend our books at regional festivals such as Lunacon (Westchester), Steampunk World's Fair (Piscatawy, NJ), and Macabre Faire Grim Fest (Long Island) in particular. Chelsea stressed music on her "In Goth We Trust" radio show from steampunk performers such as Abney Park, Emily Autumn, Frenchy and the Punk, Jonah Knight, Baron Misuraca, and Amor Obscure, and we interviewed a lot of these people on the show.
Chelsea usually made the first contact with artists we were trying to convince to come to the Pine Hill Festival. Then I would work with them on logistical details and payment. In many ways Chelsea was the artistic inspiration for the festival.
Ann Epner is the second person who was absolutely irreplaceable in the process of creating the festival. Without Anne's enthusiasm, support with the Pine Hill Community Center, ideas, contacts, and wise advice we could not have done the festival.
The entire Board of the Pine Hill Community Center listened to the presentation of our plans at a meeting about six months ago and gave us whole-hearted support along with many helpful suggestions. Jim Nevin, Chairman of the Board, gave us especially enthusiastic support which was very heartening to us in the early stages.
Polly Vos and Florence Hamling, pillars of the Community Center, gave us a big surprise and vote of confidence two days before the festival when they proudly unveiled their freshly made sign "Welcome To The Pine Hill Steampunk Fest." The sign was on the stage at the center of the vending room for the festival, and will be used again as a traditon in future festivals.
Poly and Florence and the rest of the Community Center crew also added a friendly touch by greeting newcomers to the festival, and offering coffee and the pastries made by Polly for the festival.
Peg Ellsworth of the MARK Project encouraged our festival project when we first mentioned it in a meeting of "The Catskills Artist Group" at a meeting in the Community Center in June 2012. She told me at that time that we could probably borrow the Victorian costumes in the collection of the Town of Roxbury for use in Pine Hill. Sure enough, Roxbury was glad to lend us the costumes, and we were able to have our "Wardobe Department" at the festival where people could "check out" elements for their costumes. People used derby hats, vests, frock coats, skirts, slips, and other items to perfect their steampunk look. Carina, who takes care of the clothing collection for Roxbury, was a big help to us in selecting the items we borrowed.
The Pine Hill Main Street Committee was an early supporter of the festival. This committee is committed to assisting in the revival of Pine Hill's Main Street, including the businesses on Main Street. The Steampunk Festival was seen as an event which would draw in many people to the community, helping all of the businesses in the town in the process. We thought that the festival would also help to put Pine Hill back on the map. Key members of the Main Street Committee are Jan Jaffe, Maureen Nagy, Shelley Smith, and Tony Janetti. The people on the committee helped with ideas as well as sending out emails with links to the festival events, attended the festival, and took out-of-town festival goers on tours of the town.
Great thanks are due Tony Janetti for the work he did on the new hamlet website for Pine Hill (www.pine hill in-the-catskills.com) which included information on the steampunk festival, and showed festival goers where the inns and restaurants are located. Tony also offered the use of his extra room to our featured performer, Jonah Knight, and even cooked a special breakfast for him on Sunday. We are hoping the Jonah will come back again next year, and certainly Tony's warm welcome will be a positive factor.
Rob Stanley, Supervisor of the Town of Shandaken (which includes the hamlet of Pine Hill) was an enthusiastic supporter of the festival from the beginning, making sure that we were aware of any town regulations and permits we would need in order to put on the event.
Joyce Grant, the Shandaken Town Clerk, was very helpful in putting up the links and descritpion of the festival on the Town website (www.shandaken.us).
Promotion of the festival was a major concern for the festival organizers. With no promotional budget to work with we were almost totally dependent on free listings. We created a facebook events page (Pine Hill Steampunk) which reached more than 500 members by the time of the festival. We also created a "Pine Hill Steampunk Festival" Events Page on Facebook, and invited hundreds of "friends and friends of friends" to the event. We eventually got responses from 40 people who said they were attending.
We put a large explanation of "steampunk" with links on the Pine Hill Books Business News Blog on the Watershed Post (www.watershedpost.com). This posting drew almost 2,000 page views, by far the most this blog ever got for a single post. The event was also included in the WP "Calender of Events."
Julia Reischel and Lissa Harris, the founders and editors of the Watershed Post were enthusiastic about the even from the beginning, and donated a front page ad to us for the three weeks before the festival. Julia told me after the festival that we got a very large number of clicks on the ad "because of the great graphic" we had on the poster used. She said that we had created "a great brand" in the "Pine Hill Steampunk Festival."
We got a free listing in the events section of the "Woodstock Times", and "Woodstock Times" reporter Violet Snow wrote a two column story on the festival which came out the day before the festival.
Carol O'Bierne of the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce put out a poster on the festival, as well as a listing on the calender, related to the Pine Hill Books membership in the chamber.
Festival posters were distributed in Woodstock, Phoenicia, Margaretville, Arkville, and Roxbury through bulletin board and telephone pole postings by Chelsea and me in our free time. These were all printed at the Pine Hill Bookstore on the office copier.
WIOX FM 91.3, Roxbury, (www.wioxradio.org) was a great help in our promotion. Chelsea interviewed several steampunk artists such as Frenchy and the Punk and Jonah Knight on the "In Goth We Trust Show," and there was always some discussion of the Pine Hill event. Many listeners to this program live in the downstate area and the capitol region. I was interviewed by Phyllis Horowitz several times about the festival on the Friday morning drive-time show "Witz End," and other program presenters on WIOX also mentioned the event.
The final promotional effort was a single ad placed in the "Catskill Mountain News" in the edition of the week of the festival. Doris Warner, Advertising Representative of the Catskill Mountain News, did a great steampunk ad for the event on very short notice.
There were three posters designs used for the festival. We were surprised three months before the festival when Tony Janetti told us that he had already seen a poster. It turned out that John Smyko, a Woodstock graphic artist, had made an image for the festival on his own. He gave it to us because he thought it was such a great idea.
Ann Epner introduced us to Susan Griffin, a graphic artist from Margaretville, who sent us a rough design of a poster. I did a mashup of this design with specific information about the festival events as we planned them at the time, which became one of our most used posters.
Damon Francisco III, of Pine Hill, was the "sound man" for the festival. He set up the sound systems in the "Vending Room" and the "Back Room" of the Community Center, using the excellent equipment provided to us by the Center. He also set up the sound system in the Firehouse, our second performance venue. This equipment was lent to us by Pine Hill neighbor Z.Z. Thom. We could not have put on the festival without Damon's technical expertise.
Old steampunk friends Cynthia Brian-Kate and John Schindler came up to Pine Hill from the east end of Long Island to help us do all the things needed in the week before the festival for the show to go on. Their main help was in personing the Wardrobe Department and creating the scenario for the improvisational play to be performed on the Delaware and Ulster train to Roxbury. This play was performed in truncated form as a part of the Victorian Tea in the Firehouse because of the cancellation of the train ride due to lack of passengers. Cynthis and John were trapped in Pine Hill in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and could not get back home until Thursday of the week following the festival.
Matty Groves, another friend from Brooklyn, also came up to help us early and stayed until Saturday of the following week. Matty effectively took over the Firehouse venue, arranging and rearranging furniture, putting on the Victorian High Tea, keeping the food buffet in order, and cleaning the Firehouse kitchen and meeting room after the festival. The Pine Hill Fire Company relayed the message after the festival that they would be glad to rent space too us again, in part because of Matty's hard work.
Matt Strank of Pine Hill, the Assistant Chief of the Fire Company, acted as liason between the Fire Company and the festival. He made sure that there was no problem in the rental relationship. It was very important to have a second performance venue in addition to the Pine Hill Community Center. It was an important aspect of the festival that people should walk through the town between the two performance venues to get a feeling for the still evident Victorian Main Street.
An important objective of the festival was to integrate all the businesses in the town into the festival in some way. We were aware through talking with people attending the festival, out of town performers, and crew members that this objective was realized. People stayed at the Colonial, ate many meals at the Pine Hill Arms, bought a few books at the bookstore, purchased some lace from Elena, and bought all manner of things at the Belleayre Plaza. Out of town visitors were especially taken with the serendipitous yet complete offerings of merchandise and snacks at the Plaza.
The Shandaken Town Museum was open both Saturday and Sunday for the general public as well as festivalgoers. The downstairs tools, costumes, and uniforms displays were open for the first time after the complete cleaning and rearranging of these exhibits over the past months by the "Work Committee" which gathers there every Thursday 10-3 under the direction of Museum Trustees Nancy Smith, June LaMarca, and Bob Kalb. This museum is has an important educational role in teaching about the past of the Town of Shandaken, the hamlets, and the whole Catskill region. It was an important aspect of our planning for the steampunk festival.
We were all surprised when Dave Channon called a few days before the festival saying that he had created a steampunk sculpture for the festival. We were delighted, had a discussion as to where it should go, and agreed that right in the middle of the vending space in the main room of the community center would be ideal. We put the piece in this spot, and it was a great success as a steampunk symbol as well as a nice place where people visiting the festival could sit and have their picture taken. Several pictures of the work appear on my previsous two blog posts which include festival pictures.
After the festival we agreed that a good place to put the sculpture would be in the garden plot in front of the community center. It now rests in this place, and has a very organic feel in the context of the fallowing garden which awaits the spring planting next year.
The consensus of people who attended the festival, performers, and crew seems to be that we should put the festival on again next year. There are lots of ideas which people have suggested, ranging from more and better promotion, a full program ready more in advance of the festival, adding food vendors to the program, and more workshops on steampunk subjects. The mystery train ride on the Delaware and Ulster Railroad was a fun idea, but we eventually had to cancel it at the last minute because no one wanted to pay the extra cost of a train ride. Thanks to Dave Riordan of the railroad for letting us cancel. I still hope to integrate the railroad into the program next year.
Jonah Knight, our featured musician who came all the way from Frederick, Maryland, was very enthusiastic about the prospects for our festival. He liked our approach of having the entire hamlet with its "Late Victorian Resort Community" setting integrated into the festival. He commented that he knew of only one other Steampunk festival which has tried this approach, and he strongly encouraged us to keep at it. He said "it takes until the fourth year until a festival reaches its full potential."
More and more people are becoming familiar with the steampunk genre, which should help us next year. We already have a lot more volunteers who want to participate next year, and we will also have a better idea of what we need to focus on and where we need people to help out. It was a lot of fun to see some bustle and life on Main Street, and to see a lot of our neighbors and friends at the various events. Thanks again to everyone.