Wild Wild West Con 4 was another rousing immersive steampunk convention success for directors Diana Given and Jason Drotman. Held on March 6 – 8 at Old Tucson, the event surpassed all previous attendance marks. Anecdotally, I heard that the park had it’s highest attendance ever on Saturday.
Old Tucson is a working film location and western theme park located in Tucson, Arizona, and has been the location for filming more than 300 movies and TV shows. First built in 1938 for the movie Arizona, it opened to the public as a theme park in 1960, while remaining a filming location as well.
Little House on the Prairie was filmed there, although the wardrobe collectibles on display, and a good part of the studios, were destroyed in a fire in 1995. The park reopened in 1997 with some new buildings, but it would be 2011 before the site had new old-looking and feeling buildings.
The current setup is a great place for an immersive convention – old time buildings with mostly 1800s interior design, dirt streets, horse drawn carriage, and small passenger train running around the park. The natural setting is spectacular in every direction as the studio is surrounded by mountains which are the remains of a volcano, active about 70 million years ago. All those years ago, it was a seething deathbed of lava. Now, it’s a hotbed of tourism and steampunk shenanigans.
A few things to note if you are going to attend the convention:
- You’ll need a vehicle to get there. Old Tucson is not walking distance to anything except scrub brush and some amazing cactus.
- Bring sunscreen and use it! Tucson is 2,600 feet above sea level.
- Drink plenty of water. It can be warm, even hot, but it is dry, dry, dry, and it’s very important to remain hydrated.
WWWC4 had an amazing assortment of guests and performers. It was quite the line up!
- Abney Park
- Steam Powered Giraffe
- Frenchy and the Punk
- The Cog Is Dead
- Loop Rawlins
- Professor Gall
- Poplock Holmes
- Drake & McTrowell
- DEVM: Deus Ex Vapore Machina
- The Atlantean Foundation
- Ivan Denis
- Cirque des Betes
- Frytown Toughs
- Balloon Artist: Tim McConeghy
- Katoand her models: Rin, Genevieve, Luna Le Fey, Miss Morgane, and Tia Maria
- Thomas Willeford
- Brian Kesinger
- Steampunk Boba Fett
- The Airship Ambassador: Kevin Steil
- The League of S.T.E.A.M.
- Airship Isabella
- Gentleman Robot and Lady Pepper
- Eric Burton
- Jay & Marie Yates
- Lord and Lady Towers
- David Lee Summers
- Osiris Dance
- David Grasse
- Lady Ember Brennen Sparks and Dr. Ozwald Gookenhymen Copperchops
- John Mondelli (AKA Captain John Sprocket of The Cog is Dead)
The events of the weekend, listed in a gorgeous program book, artwork provided by artist and guest Brian Kesinger, started with a meet and greet mixer on Thursday night at the hotel, being entertained with the rope and lasso skills of Loop Rawlins.
Friday started off with Opening Ceremonies with Jason and Diana, and the day was filled with panels ranging from DIY to grooming and fashion, to social media to manners. All day long, there were also street-side musical performances by Poplock Holmes, Unwoman, and Frytown Toughs. There were also performances by League of S.T.E.A.M., Drake & McTrowell, and Professor Gall. Madame Askew also started the weekend long bout of Tea Dueling. Friday night wrapped up with an evening concert featuring an energetic performance by The Cog is Dead and an engaging follow up by Steampunk Powered Giraffe.
Saturday was off to a great start with maker’s panels, costume techniques, and flash fiction writing. There was also special effects makeup, the fashion show, and an appearance by Iron Man 1889 (courtesy of Thomas Willeford). Rounding the afternoon were comics, weapons, films, and SteamGirls! The evening was completed with high octane performances by Frenchy and the Punk (who spent a few days traveling to the convention due to bad weather and mechanical misfortunes) and Abney Park.
Two late nights in a row didn’t stop people from diving right into Sunday’s activities. The day kicked off with The State of Steampunk, the science of electronics, and Thermoplastics, history, more DIY, more writing, more music. MORE! Winding up the weekend were the final battles of Tea Dueling, the Costume Contest (where a steampunk dinosaur courtesy of Lord Towers (Will Brown) just about stole the show!), a special guest Skyping in from Europe, and the Closing Ceremonies.
As ever, steampunk and conventions are all about people. It was a great opportunity to connect with new people, reunite with old friends, and enjoy the hospitality of the convention staff. There were around 200 volunteers helping to put on this event, and while I only got to meet a fraction of the team, I want to thank all of you very much, for the pre-event communication, on-site handling and liaisons, and for all the work you put into making such a fun weekend!
If you are looking for a fresh experience in conventions, enjoy a wide variety of guests, performers and panels, and want to get in on collecting as many badge ribbons as possible, this could just be the right convention for you. Start planning now for next year’s convention!