Vandalia-Con wrapping up fourth year

Enjoying the tea and the game were from left, Elizabeth Lister of Morgantown, Jordan Kennedy-Rea of Clarksburg and Liz Osborne of Ohio. (Photo by Jeffrey Saulton)

PARKERSBURG — For four years those who enjoy living the world of Steampunk have been gathering at the Blennerhassett Hotel for a weekend of celebrating during Vandalia-Con.

Shelly Dusic, health information specialist with the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program and the event organizer for Vandalia-Con Steampunk Convention, said steampunk is a way of life for many.

Centered at the Blennerhassett Hotel and running Friday through today, the convention features a number of classes on various steampunk topics ranging from how to pick the best cosplay to creating games to crafting and much more.

For 2017 Dusic said new things added to Vandalia-Con included the Goblin Tea and the Captain’s Tea.

“Gandersnitch the Goblin is a new character working with us and will host our talent show which will be livecast on Facebook,” she said. “We will also have our international radio podcast ‘Talk of the Tavern.'”

Josh Widdowson, of Indiana, Pa., plays a Victoria-era parlor game during the Captain’s Tea on Saturday during the fourth annual Vandalia-Con at the Blennerhassett Hotel. The event concludes today. (Photo by Jeffrey Saulton)

This year the Vandalia-Con had a keynote speaker in Jade Myers, who makes 3-D printed prosthetics. There will also have a quick draw tournament using Nerf guns today.

Vandalia-Con also featured a cancer education safari.

“On the second floor of the Blennerhassett there is education information about different cancer prevention and control programs and information on chronic disease,” Dusic said.

This year Vandalia-Con had a rift in time, Dusic said.

“We had a rift in space and time and because of that, people from other universes were able to come through to the land of Vandalia,” she said. “We will fix it at the end of the convention but we can only close one at a time, time or space, and those at the convention will vote with their participation tickets.”

She said the vote will be between doing “steampunk in space” or “steampunk in the Wild West” for next year’s Vandalia-Con.

Some at Vandalia-Con are people who have been involved in steampunk for a long time and others for a short time. Ralph and Lori Melton, of Pittsburgh, just got involved in steampunk at the beginning of the year.

“I’ve been vaguely aware of steampunk for quite a while but not a participant,” he said. “I heard a song by Professor Elemental and really tickled me and decided steampunk was something I wanted to try.”

Melton said he and Lori decided to look for nearby steampunk conventions and decided to come to Parkersburg for their first convention.

When asked what they liked, Lori said it was the clothes.

“It’s an excuse to wear squishy Victorian clothes,” she said.

“The spirit of engineering and discovery is something,” he said. “I’m a software engineer and even with software there are things I can’t tinker with. Victorian science was more nearly a time when the creative garage inventor could do great things.”

Lori said she came along for the ride.

“Part of the reason I’m here was he wanted to go,” she said. “A weekend in a nice hotel beats a weekend alone at home and I get to wear a pretty Victorian hat, so OK I’ll come.”

All proceeds from the event are donated to the Diagnostic and Treatment Fund and Bonnie’s Bus, Dusic said, to ensure that breast and cervical cancer screening, diagnostic, and treatment resources are available to all West Virginia women who need them. She said the programs are part of the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program.