Recap – Motor City Steam Con 2016


tl;dr The inaugural Motor City Steam Con was fantastic, you should have been there, and you should sign up right away for next year’s event on July 14-16, 2017.

If you missed the inaugural Motor City Steam Con just outside of Detroit, Michigan, on July 22-24, and sadly, that means most of you, you missed a fantastic event!


Organizer Salathiel Palland watching the fashion show.

Photo by Heather Kenya Cushing


Just under seven hundred people gathered at the Holiday Inn for an amazing assemblage of guests, entertainers, vendors, panels, and events.

Things officially kicked off with a rousing and very energetic opening ceremony. Con organizer Salathiel Palland sang “Let the River Run” by Carly Simon while automatons from the Dance Centre studio danced around her. The Detroit Mass Choir accompanied her.


Gabriel Brass Band, photo by Ofeibea Loveless


Next came the Gabriel Brass Band playing Second Line immediately followed by 30-some airship groups.

Sal introduced the guests and entertainers, and the ceremony wrapped up with a medley of songs by the band, which got people out of their seats and dancing. It was a high energy performance which set a great tone for the whole weekend.


Diana Pho, photo by Ofeibea Loveless


James Neathery and Ofeibea Loveless, photo by Ofeibea Loveless

The weekend continued with a who’s who of steampunk creators – here’s just a few of the people who were there:

Myke Amend

Eli August

Bethalynne Bajema

Philippa (Pip) Ballantine

R.S. Belcher

Steampunk Eddie

Frenchy and the Punk

Karianne Gottschalk

Sarah Hans

Leanna Renee Hieber

Tee Morris

James Neathery

Diana M. Pho

Ashley Rodgers

Kevin Steil

DJ Vorteque

Arlow Xan

Eric Larson, Teslacon

Aloysius Fox, International Steampunk Symposium

Mike Zawacki and Scott Norman, Wars of Other Men


Samantha Stephenson and Scott Helland, photo by MIGeekScene


Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine, photo by MIGeekScene

There was continual musical entertainment in the main room, author readings, a tea room, vendors, parties, and of course, plenty of panels.

Among the many remarks attendees made by attendees was the pleased amazement at how well and smoothly everything ran, especially for a first year convention. Registration had badges for everyone and VIP bags waiting. Rooms were well marked with schedules, security and badge checkers were on hand but unobtrusive, and the hotel staff was wonderful and helpful at every moment. Aside from the inferno raging outside the hotel, I didn’t hear one negative comment about the convention itself.


Sara Neathery and Azriel le Fey, photo by MIGeekScene


Karianne Gottschalk (2nd from left), photo by MIGeekScene


The Friday night party, sponsored. by Rusted Crow Distillery, and hosted by the Crew and Captains, Bret Daly And Courtney ‘Splintercat’ Stoll, of the Corsair Iniquitous, was great fun. Great drinks and jello shots for those who imbibe, music for those who dance, and an accommodating hotel which let people take their drinks and dancing out into the much cooler lobby area.

The Sunday closing ceremony not only had a great shout-out to the guests,  the con staff and volunteers, but also had a touching tribute to Michael Wiggins, a valued and much missed member of the community.


Lindsay Dowd, photo by MIGeekScene


Fashion Show, photo by Heather Kenya Cushing

The weather may have been desiccatingly hot around the country during the entire weekend but this a was cool convention to attend.

If you like an opening ceremony that makes you want to jump up and dance,  a wide variety of music and panel discussions,  along with great venue staff and the ever friendly fellow attendees, Motor City Steam Con should be added to your convention list.


Eunice, handling the Green Room, photo by MIGeekScene

Special thanks to Sal for inviting me as a guest, Eunice for the airport transportation and green room noms, and the Ops and Security team for such a low stress and fun filled weekend.


Published in: on July 31, 2016 at 7:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Salathiel Palland, Motor City Steam Con, part 3

motor-city-coverWelcome back for the conclusion of our chat with Salathiel Palland, organizer of Motor City Steam Con in Michigan.

Read part one here.

Read part two here.


Airship Ambassador: Do you talk with other convention organizers to trade ideas?

Salathiel Palland: Yes, Eric Jon Larson, the producer of Teslacon and Morgan Kollin the producer of Youmacon have been the truest and most generous mentors a girl could ever wish for. They have given freely other knowledge and have been nothing but supportive. Truly wouldn’t even have done this without their support and their belief in me.


AA: For the aspiring convention planner, what lessons did you learn along the way for Motor City Steam Con?

SP: Pick your people very carefully; plan a budget and stick to it!; plan, plan, plan!


AA: With all of that work, you’ve had a chance to meet a lot of people. What kind of networking, associations, and new friendships have come out of your work on Motor City Steam Con, before, during, and after?

SP: I have met so many wonderful con heads and traded table space and website advertising. Most of the time I have been in the vendor room and it feels like coming home when you see familiar faces. I met one of my best friends in the world, Elisabeth Martin and her amazing an talented husband Alex at a con in their booth the Blonde Swan. I have a wonderful customer, Ginger Vaughn, who I see at almost every can and I just want to give her free stuff all the time because she is so supportive. I have met some truly beautiful people


AA: What are some things you would have done differently?

SP: Nothing, really. It’s all about the journey.


AA: What suggestions and encouragement would you give to people who want to attend?

SP: Please just come prepared to have drama-free fun!


AA: How might someone prepare for this year’s events?

SP: Practice not sleeping and dancing until you drop.


AA: What should a first time attendee know about the convention, and what shouldn’t they miss?

SP: That we were all first time attendees and we know how you feel. That if you are feeling too shy to talk to people, but still want to be engaged, that we have “talking benches” you can sit on that will let others know that you are open for conversation. And that we don’t bite…hard.

 motor city tea

AA: What other steampunk things are you involved with?

SP: I am in the Detroit Steampunk Collective group, I organize various steampunk gatherings, parties, and concerts during the year.


AA: Looking beyond steampunk and Motor City Steam Con, what other interests fill your time?

SP: I am a serious bibliophile, I love books, I love singing, I love dancing, knitting, pop culture, trivia!, movies, and honestly I just love producing events.


AA: How do those interests influence your work?

SP: In so many insidious ways…


AA: There’s only so much time in a day – what interests don’t you have time for?

SP: I don’t get to bellydance or dance as much as I used to and my reading time has taken a major hit.


AA: What other fandoms are you part of (as a fan or participant) ?

SP: I grow up in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy fandom, I am a Supernatural freak, Firefly, comic books forever, tabletop RPGs forever – I’m just a big ‘ol nerdy nerd and proud of it.


AA: What is on your to-be read -watched-listened pile right now?

SP: I can’t even look at that right now. It is so large, I’m afraid if I sneeze, the mountain will fall off the night stand and bury me alive in an avalanche.

 motor city want you

AA: Ha! I know that feeling! Are there people you consider an inspiration, role model, or other motivating influence?

SP: My mom, Eric Larson, Morgan Kollin, Don Watts, Sue Watts, Elisabeth Martin, and too many more to name.


AA: What is the best advice you’ve been given?

SP: The buck stops with you so make sure the final product is your vision.


AA: When you do interviews, what is something that you wish you were asked about but haven’t


SP: Why are you so damn sexy!?!


AA: Well, that’s a pretty good question! Why are you so damn sexy? Any final thoughts to share with our readers

SP: I love that you all yearn for something magical and different and that you keep pushing us event producers to dream bigger. And we will keep thinking of you and the fun you deserve!


Thanks, Salathiel, for joining us for this interview and for sharing all of your thoughts. We look forward to hearing about your next projects!

Keep up to date with the latest news about Motor City Steam Con on their website.

Published in: on July 20, 2016 at 9:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Salathiel Palland, Motor City Steam Con, part 2


Welcome back for part two of our chat with Salathiel Palland, organizer of Motor City Steam Con in Michigan.

Read part one here.


Airship Ambassador: Another big aspect of conventions is the vendor’s room and all the great items they bring. What kinds of vendors were/are you looking for?

Salathiel Palland: I was looking for a mix of tried and true vendors, up and comers, and people who have never been in the state before. I wanted true variety.


AA: Conventions run on volunteers. How many people are involved to hold this event?

SP: oh my God, so many. It takes a village to run a con for real.


AA: How did all of those people get involved?

SP: My department heads I begged until they took pity on me and then we just advertised for the rest of these beautiful selfless people.


AA: How is Michigan for holding a convention? How does location matter for resources, access, publicity, etc?

SP: Michigan is a great place to hold a con! We are rich in dedicated steampunks, we have groups all over – Detroit, Ypsilanti, Jackson, Monroe, Kalamazoo, Flint, Lansing – all over. Detroit really s a hub when it comes to travel so all roads lead to us.


AA: If Motor City Steam Con had a soundtrack, what would it be like?

SP: Pretty Certain a lot of gothy tracks with some hard rock, and synthy pop thrown in. And you gotta have some soul and blues.


AA: What kind of attention has Motor City Steam Con generated?

SP: More than I thought it would! I was really surprised at what a buzz it got at Motor City Comic Con. Hundreds of people picked up flyers and hundreds of others said they were already coming!


AA: Sometimes, it’s difficult to reign in the creativity and limit everyone and the event to just what can be realistically done, and done well. But, if you had unlimited access and an unlimited budget, what is one item you’d leap at to offer?

SP: Free tummy tucks done by a automaton surgeon. I would be first in line. Lol.


AA: Anything you can share about next year?

SP: That there will be one? We are already working on the next show. Oh, there will be a slight date change, too. So we are not competing with San Diego Comic Con, Ann Arbor Art Fair, Pennsic, etc. This turns out to be a very busy weekend and we want to be able to get the guests that we want out for our fans.


AA: How did previous experiences prepare you for this role?

SP:Running a steampunk bookstore and producing concerts and show and events for the store have given me a pretty varied and deep experience set. I’ve done a little bit of everything and keep looking for bigger things to tackle.

 motor city want you

AA: What are the qualities a person needs as an event producer?

SP:The ability to drink and hold down large quantities of liquor; The ability to tone people out and put out the fire in front of you while you are making them feel heard; The patience of Mother Teresa; A private place to scream; A sugar daddy.


AA: What are some key factors in producing a successful convention?

SP: Plan, plan, plan! I have been planning this con for two years and I still don’t feel like it was long enough. You have to give yourself enough time to work out all the variables or you will fail,


AA: During the planning and execution stages, what are some challenges of producing a convention?

SP: working with so many strong, creative personalities; money; Promotion and advertising; finding interesting acts, etc.


AA: There are always a million details to keep track of during the planning, from making sure tech equipment is in each room to having a garbage can at the registration table. What were some of the more interesting details that came to you in the middle of the night, kept you awake in the first place, or came up at the last minute because no one thought of them?

SP: Wait! Oh my God, do I have a garbage can at registration? I didn’t even think about that!


AA: Along with all the planning of what the convention is going to be, marketing the event is important, too, to bring people in. How did you promote Motor City Steam Con beforehand?

SP:I took to the interwebz and never got off. I found some great sponsors in Rusted Crow Spirits and Abick’s Bar. Metrotimes is our media sponsor and their reach is vast. Flyers, contests, vendors and staff and entertainers spreading the word. We are relentless. Come the the con! See? Relentless…


AA: Looking back on all of that hard work, what are the rewards of producing this event, what do you look forward to for next year?

SP: Having a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. Not having to start from scratch again; an even bigger opening ceremony!


AA: What was one memorable story while planning the convention? Any laugh out loud or cry in the corner moments?

SP:Too many, too many, it is making me sweat just thinking about it. Too soon.


AA: Planning a convention can be a challenge some days. What are some of your methods to stay motivated and creative?

SP: Music has always been a big soother and motivator. Playing with my kids because their energy and love recharges my soul. Just letting myself daydream and say “What if?” I seriously set aside time for that everyday.


Quick break in talking with Sal about the inaugural 2016 convention. Join us in part 2 when she talks about working with other conventions.

Keep up to date with the latest news about Motor City Steam Con on their website.

Published in: on July 19, 2016 at 5:35 pm  Comments (1)  
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