Steampunk Road Trip – Vandalia-Con


Welcome to West Virginia, USA, where we are stopping at Vandalia Con and talking with Shelly and Bret.

Shelly (The Captain) is the Chief Executive Officer and Bret (Mr. Cat) is the Vice President of the event. Can you share with us where and when Vandalia Con is held?

Shelly: Vandalia Con is held at the Blennerhassett Hotel in Parkersburg, West Virginia, May 25-27th.

What was the spark which got you thinking about creating a new convention?

Shelly: This convention started with my husband Mr. Cat and I staying at the Blennerhassett Hotel for a provider training that I was doing. While enjoying the wonderful venue he said “ This would be great for a Steampunk event” and I said, “I want to do a breast cancer event here.” And then we said almost at the same time, “Wouldn’t it be funny if?” and the rest is history.

Ha, from such small thoughts and comments …. What are people likely to see in the programming schedule?

Shelly: We are most famous for our classes. Everything from costuming, and kid’s science courses to exciting keynote speakers working in cutting edge science and technology. We have competitions and teas, concerts, and most importantly we do actual Breast cancer screenings on site in partnership with a local clinic and Bonnie’s Bus mammography program.

Serving the community in mind and body. Any memorable moments from previous years?

Shelly: Our featured guests and keynote speakers have certainly been an amazing part of our convention. From steampunk icon Thomas Willeford to Jade Myers from the Rochester institute of Technology who created printed a 3-D prosthetic arm for one of our volunteers last year, our guest speakers have truly raised the bar for what you can expect to learn at Vandalia-Con. 

That’s pretty cool! And if anyone can whip up an amazing prosthetic, it’s going to be a steampunk! What might a steampunk road tripper expect to find when they attend?

Shelly: They would find a beautiful venue, intriguing classes, interactive long-running storylines, and an easy-going and welcoming attitude. This year’s theme is old west and we have some amazing guests. FASFA games will be there running their 1895 RPG all weekend and our keynote speaker is Dr. Julia Oswald who is currently doing her post-doctoral research at Harvard. Here is a synopsis of her keynote address:

From Bionic Eyes to Stem Cell Therapies a scientific journey into the future of vision research

With age comes wisdom – and degeneration. Starting at 30 we already don’t quite feel like 20 anymore and once the centuries keep adding on our bodies slowly decline. When it comes to vision we are all aware of the result. While surely wearing glasses can be rather stylish, progressive loss of vision is seldom welcome as a reason to do so. Furthermore, once not associated to old age or progressed beyond the point where glasses are helpful, loss of vision becomes a life changing disability.

Unlike machines the human body is difficult to repair and especially organs as intricate and complicated as the eye pose a seemingly insurmountable boundary to the capabilities of medicine to date. Nevertheless, researchers have set out to cross this boundary, pursuing both bionic as well as stem cell based approaches to one-day cure blindness. Join us on a journey along the cutting edge of vision research and see what retina chips, gene therapy and cell replacement treatments can already achieve.

There’s some other interesting information in your sponsorship request letter. Here’s just a snippet:

“By merging this popular genre with a great cause we honor our state’s history, educate about early detection, and engage a new generation in volunteerism and advocacy.”

“Our event has generated over $480,000 of earned media, over $300,000 of in-kind donations, and has reached over 1.5 million people through our online activities and extensive social media network.”

“Most importantly, we know that three people, because of their involvement with Vandalia-Con, were navigated to cancer screening and found their cancers early. All have received treatment and prognosis for these survivors looks good. We are having a direct impact, and saving lives, but we can’t do it alone.”

You and your event have certainly accomplished quite a bit, and saved lives, too! How can people keep up to date on the event?

Shelly: The best way is through Facebook, but we also have a website

Thanks Shelly! See you in May!

Hey travelers! Follow the whole road trip on the Master Link List

Published in: on February 14, 2018 at 7:58 pm  Comments (1)