VERMILLION — The Vermillion Area Arts Council is finalizing preparation for their upcoming Steampunk Pirate festival, scheduled to take place on Saturday, Sept. 14. 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.

The schedule is as follows:

• 2 p.m. — Festival opens with hands-on activities, demos and variety of vendors

• 5 p.m. — Jewel in the Lotus bellydance performance

• 5:30 p.m. — Children’s Costume contest (ages 17 & under)

• 6 p.m. — Jim Perry Magic Steampunk show

• 7 p.m. — Magnificent Booty, historically inaccurate pirate comedy

• 7:45 p.m. — Adult Costume Contest (ages 18 & up)

• 8:30 p.m. — Free Screening of “The Princess Bride” at the Vermillion Theater, 4 W Main Street

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.

Costumed participation is encouraged and there will be prizes for each of the event’s costume contests. 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. These will include the Sioux Falls Renaissance Festival, jewelry, ceramics and even photos via Professor Packard Tintype Emporium. Refreshments will also be available for purchase from the VAAC beverage bar and a visiting food truck. All proceeds will benefit VAAC programming.

The festival will take place from 2-8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, with family-friendly activities occurring earlier in the day. The festival takes place at the Washington Street Arts Center, 202 Washington Street, in Vermillion. The festival will be followed by a special, free screening of the movie “The Princess Bride” at the historic Vermillion Theater — 4 W. Main Street —hosted by the Vermillion Cultural Association. They will have beer and other beverages, as well as popcorn for sale on site.

For more information, visit or email event organizers at

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