Steampunk Road Trip – Teslacon


Oh, Travelers, we have a special stop today in the Land of Cheese -, Wisconsin! We’re going to chat with Eric Larson, creator of the very popular, award winning convention, Teslacon, and the new expansion out west to Seattle, Teslacon West.


Hello Eric, or as attendees also know you, Lord Hastings Robert Bobbins III. As the creator and convention chair off TeslaCon, what are the other things you are responsible for?

Eric Larson: Hello! I design, schedule, create props, over see production for the convention and run it during the weekend, with the help of the best staff in the business.


That’s quite a bit to do on your own. I’ve seen your staff in action during the weekend, and everyone does a great job. Where and when is your convention held this year?

Eric Larson: Middleton Wisconsin (or Madison, the Capital of the state) at the Marriott West with over 50,000 feet of convention space. It runs from Thursday afternoon to Sunday at PM.


You’ve worked on other conventions before Teslacon. How did this one come about?

Eric Larson: It started because some friends said “hey- you would like this. Maybe do a convention”…so I did. That was over 10 years ago now…and we are still going. Between 1400-1600 people per year. We cap attendance so we are not overflowing, but we also only have so much room for the large dances.

It has changed, and we will be changing again. This year is a VERY BIG YEAR for us. We have come to a major point in the story and everything changes. The Battle of Britain is the theme. It involves new characters and stories, while wrapping up the last 8 years only to bring the convention to a story close for year 10! Then we start over with all new stories and adventures. I believe we must change- or at least keep up and do something different. While we have our staples- TC is known for wild, silly and fun events. Stampedes using hobby horses for the Wild, Wild West to in-hall dances and singing by the cast. Dinosaurs from the Center of the Earth having tea with Lord Bobbins to Santa Claus interrupting opening ceremonies and having a beer with the convention attendees. Even Krampus made a debut year 3. It never ends, and you can see just about anything at TeslaCon.

This year we plan on having a 15-20 minute film that basically is a giant mass dirigible battle- between good and bad. Meanwhile we have balls, dances and at least 4 other large activities that keep people busy besides all of the panels. There’s even a full tea room.


What are some of the panels and other activities in your convention programming?

Eric Larson: It truly varies year to year based on the main theme. For year 9 many of the panels are based on English History and lore, though we “insert” steam history into it. We also go with the year we will be in. This year will be 1887! A ton happened in London that year- like a person named Jack.

Panels that are scheduled so far include the films (an entire presentation unto itself) and also the history of the great Steampunk American Civil War with narration and slides-also including artifacts. English fairies and cataloging them, proper race etiquette, a full on Ascot Race with music and racing before the big ball, plus many new things we have never done before.

The panels run 1 hour and with a 15 minute break. We also have built in breaks for lunch and dinner so people can change and eat and get to the next event in time. We usually run until about 2AM and start the next morning at 9AM. You get your money’s worth for a 4 full days.


You have an immersive theme, performances, and storyline. Walk down Memory Lane a bit and tell us about that and other highlights.

Eric Larson: Well let’s start with the décor. Every year we decorate and make the theme run throughout the hotel. Year Two we decorated the halls like a submarine, year three we went to the moon and had puppets and moon men, we also hit Santa’s sleigh on the way up. We have had a full dias for the Congress of Steam, we have had films where we fly, go to battle and have journeyed to the center of the earth. Basically we decorate up the hotel so YOU BELIEVE you are in another world.

As for writers we have had George Mann, Gail Carriger, Bruce Boxlietner, Thomas Willeford, the Airship Ambassador, plus a host of actors and specialists over the years. We just brought Victor and the Bully in from England last year, Unwoman has played along with a full orchestra we are known to have for the main ball.. We push the story and the experience more than a guest line-up though.

We have had well over 10 weddings and several recommitment ceremonies. We have several dances throughout the weekend that are usually themed for the year. This last year we traveled to “Romania” where we had authentic dances and a dance instructor teach people the moves on how to be Transylvanian.

What makes TC special is we go the extra mile to make the weekend special, and make it seem as though you are in another place- another time and with characters and a story that you can participate in. We also do themed dinners, large ones. Over 100 people at some. You also get more story and quite a bit of entertainment for your money…including the “Wurst Dinner Ever” (all German food) complete with authentic accordion music.

When one of our travelers makes plans to attend this year, what can they expect when they arrive at the hotel?

Eric Larson: Well Year 4 we had over 28 countries attend- so we have had a lot of people from all over the world. China, Russia, England, Germany and Saudi Arabia to name a few. The fact is what attracts them is story and the immersion, something they won’t get most likely from where they come from. The difference is we keep the story going all weekend- all 9 years! People become invested in the characters. I think the main difference is the scale of things. A 60 piece orchestra for a ball? Dinosaurs walking round having tea with guests, puppets popping up singing and dancing…it all happens here.

The unusual differences and small details are usually what stick out to people. Also the shear fun they have!


It’s always great fun for me when I attend. What’s the best way for people to keep up to date?

Eric Larson:


Thanks for sharing all this information, Eric!

There’s still time, my travelers, to make plans to see The Battle of Britain this year!

Until then, follow the whole steampunk road trip on the Master Link List

Published in: on February 16, 2018 at 7:14 pm  Comments (1)