The Vermillion Area Arts Council is pleased to announce plans for the first-of-its-kind Steampunk Pirate festival to take place on Saturday, September 14th. First Gear will be the inaugural year for the fair, which is expected to draw visitors from all over the region to engage in thematic, family-friendly activities, games, costume contests and performances.


With a goal of fostering community through historic science fiction and theatrical piracy, the VAAC board hopes to provide a unique and memorable experience for people who enjoy science fiction, cosplay, and general, creative fun.  “Our board is looking to steampunk as a fantastic example of how history can be playful, informative and creative all at the same time,” explains Susan Heggestad, the board’s current president. “Our ultimate goal is to reinvigorate the membership, have a little fun, and investigate how a new approach to programming might help the council branch out and attract new audiences.”


Steampunk is a subgenre of creative science fiction that uses historic technology to power contemporary life. Imagine your cellphone powered by steam. It’s also considered a counter-cultural and fashion statement that is equally inspired by rebellious punk ideology and pre-Industrial Revolution technology, like the steam engine.


While costumed participation is encouraged, it is not required. Visitors can wear a steampunk or pirate costume to participate in the costume contest or simply come as they are just to experience the event. In addition to the kid and family-friendly activities, artmaking, and stage shows, many vendors will be on hand to peddle their thematic wares. Refreshments will also be available for purchase. All proceeds will benefit VAAC programming.


The Vermillion Area Arts Council was founded in 1974 to advocate and support the arts in the Vermillion Community. Through Fine Arts classes, workshops, exhibits, concerts and performances, local arts advocacy and support, the council aims to expand the foundation of the Fine Arts, education, and community.


The festival will take place from 2:00 – 8:00 pm on Saturday, September 14th, with family-friendly activities occurring earlier in the day. Admission is $8 per person, or $5 for those in costume. Children 12 & under (with adults) are $2. Alternatively, a whole family entry can be obtained for $16. The festival takes place at the Washington Street Arts Center, 202 Washington Street, in Vermillion.

For more information, visit their website at


Sponsors and volunteers are encouraged at multiple levels. For further information about the festival, sponsorship, or the Vermillion Area Arts Council, contact event organizers at


Washington Street Arts Center

202 Washington Street
Vermillion, SD 57069


Susan Heggestad

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