Review By: Janel Spiegel – Photos By: Barry McMickle
PA Steamfest 2021 Event Review
August 21st and 22nd, 2021
101 Founders Way
There could be no better place than ArtsQuest with the Bethlehem Steel lingering in the background to host PA Steamfest 2021. Bethlehem is steeped in history, and it served as the host for PA Steamfest 2021: Produced by The Geek Grid Studios in partnership with ArtsQuest and Sponsored by Verde Mantis 3D Printers, XR Studioz, and 100.7 WLEV.
What is STEAMFEST? https://www.pasteamfest.com/
The website answers that: “Professionals, Experts, and Educators from all over the world come together with Game Developers, Cosplayers and Entertainers for the annual PA STEAM & Video Game Festival celebrating Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Makers and Video Games!”
If you checked out the PA Steamfest website, you have seen the 2021 lineup. The vendor videos of them talking about their craft and how happy they are to be attending PA Steamfest 2021.
This incredible festival was supposed to happen in 2020 but COVID shut everything down. Steamfest 2021 happened and it was a blast.
I arrived on Saturday, there is always a peaceful, happy feeling when you arrive at ArtsQuest, you can see the Steel Stacks and the buildings that surround the area. You know there is art, music, familiar faces, new faces, food, drinks, a place to just sit and reflect.
PA Steamfest was incredible. It was innovative and creative. The founder Kat Mahoney was hard at work with her team. I met so many wonderfully, kind, smart, creative people. It is so much more than video games and the cosplay that people imagine. It is creators, innovators, and these talented people who love talking about science and technology, and the impact that video games and technology has on the world.
On Saturday, I was able to talk with quite a few of the guests and vendors. PA Steamfest made use of the entire ArtsQuest building. They had guests, vendors, creators, and gamers set up on each floor.
The Valley Ledger was set up outside and guests stopped by to learn more about The Valley Ledger and spin the wheel for prizes.
Some of the vendors and guests in attendance included: Doctor Gus Designs, Dark Rain Design, 100.7 WLEV was in attendance.
Keepsakes Full Body 3D Scan and Print company. Okay, this was beyond amazing. They do a scan of you and then you can order a 3D version of yourself.
Baroness Alexandra: Tea Dueling. Tastings, Instigator of Shenanigans.
The Geek Grid Studios – they “Specialize in event management and production, streaming, content creation, and team building and training utilizing geek edutainment for careers, education, and life skills.
Mantis 3D Printing had a spot set up and then can create anything with their 3D printers. I spoke with several people and they showed me everything from keychains, masks, and body armor. It was incredible to watch these machines create and make anything three dimensional. It’s incredible and scary at the same time. The technology is advanced. Each person that was working at the table set-up took time to talk with everyone. They explained everything in detail.
And of course, ArtsQuest, the hub of PA Steamfest, the heart of and holder of the event. If the ArtsQuest building could talk, I would interview the building. I know it has wonderful stories, concerts, people who visit from all over, a beautiful movie theatre, the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas-SteelStacks.
The ArtsQuest building is also home to the Musikfest Café, The Highmark Blue Shield Community Stage, and of course, The Levitt Pavilion. You can always check the website and there is a calendar that shares what events are going on.
I cannot forget Musikfest, Christmas City and The Banana Factory.
ArtsQuest became the central spot inside for PA Steamfest as guests wondered around, talked to one another, talked with vendors, purchased amazing art and unique pieces designed by some of the talented creators.
They also had several incredible performers, musicians, bands, and the uniqueness that is SteamPunk and SteamFest.
Many people showed up dressed in cosplay and wearing elaborate, beautifully made pieces. I spoke with one gentleman who said his tall hat was customed made for him. It certainly suited his ensemble well.
Saturday and Sunday felt like a whirlwind. I cannot imagine how Kat Mahoney and her extraordinary team felt. They did everything to make sure everyone was safe and even while I visited with Make Lehigh Valley to make my very own light up pin. They explained in detail what was happening and I wound up making my own light-up button pin.
You can check out MAKE LEHIGH VALLEY- A Makerspace and Community at 905 Harrison St. Suite 101, Allentown, PA 18103
You can “JOIN FOR OPEN HACK NIGHTS THURSDAYS FROM 6:30-9:30PM.
I also spoke with the owner of Skullduggery Studios. She makes incredible items. Electric Art- Wearable Art -Fine Crafts. You can find her on social media @SkullDuggeryStudio
Everyone working at ArtsQuest and the volunteers. They all did an amazing job. Everyone is always so helpful.
My Editor and the owner of The Valley Ledger was in attendance on both days along with the incredibly out of this galaxy talented writer/contributor, Mr. Joseph Scrizzi. So many incredible people stopped by The Valley Ledger tent on Saturday and then visited us again on Sunday when we moved to the second floor in the ArtsQuest building. It was wonderful seeing so many people. The Valley Ledger had fun prizes and people were able to spin The Valley Ledger wheel.
I also spoke with The Wedding Funeral – They are an incredible band. You can check out the debut album, “You Have Been Cordially Disinvited.”
I also John Milleker Jr. He’s a photographer in Baltimore, MD. www.johnmilleker.com – John offers lessons, he does Authentic Historical Photography and his display was so beautifully set-up.
KINETIC KREATIONS was in attendance, and I tried out this giant hamster wheel contraption. I spoke to the man who created it and built it. It’s a “human powered frozen beverage machine.” You start by placing your cup on one part of the machine and then you step inside on the wheel and you begin the process to make your own shaved ice. You get to select a flavor and you learn that there is process for everything. Things don’t just magically appear out of nowhere. You have to work to make things. It was an important lesson. It’s an elaborate contraption. You can check it out at www.kinetickreations.com
The band Villins performed. I spoke with them briefly and they were excited to be performing at PA Steamfest. Villins.com – They are a talented duo and they do write their own songs.
I met a very talented artist that makes “One of a kind wool and cashmere coats, jackets, hand warmers. Melinda Czeczon.
Dicey Situations was located on the fourth floor. He does Board Games & gaming event management for: Bars, Cafes, Charity Events, Weddings, Festivals, and more. DiceySituations.net The nice gentleman I spoke with was Craig. He was so excited to be at PA Steamfest. He was so excited to see all of the people and share what he does with everyone.
On Sunday, August 22nd, I arrived and the vendors were moved indoors due to some inclement weather. They had everyone set-up in great places. You could walk around and they made use of all four floors at ArtsQuest. Musikfest Café was buzzing all day with people and music.
They had scheduled events all day. PA Steamfest provided schedules to everyone. You could also check the PA Steamfest website. Social media was buzzing as people posted what was happening throughout the weekend.
The events included:
THE ART OF S.T.E.A.M
Mt. Tabor Arts
The Importance of the ART in STEAM Education.
MAKING CUSTOM GUITARS which was incredible.
DIGITAL ANIME with Nova Mahoney, Nova presented an excellent presentation about digital drawing and anime characters.
FAILURE IN STEAM at the Bloomsburg Children’s Museum. They talked about turning failure into a positive.
THE MAKER MOVEMENT with Sandy Roberts. Inspiring future innovators, creatives, and entrepreneurs.
OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE with Jezebel Sunshine. Jezebel discussed how to stream games.
COSPLAY PANEL – the cosplayers discussed creative coping during COVID.
HISTORY OF PHOTOGRAPHY with John Milleker Jr. He focused on the 19th century process of photography.
MATILDA PERFORMANCE at the Mt. Tabor ARTS – They performed a scene from MATILDA.
THE GOLDNE COMPASS was a family-friendly award-winning movie set in a time of magic.
Sunday, Kay Mahoney, her daughter Nova and her team also hosted MINDFUL GAMING. They talked about building positive healthy minds and happy gamers. This was much more than that. Kat and her team shared personal stories and offered advice, words of wisdom and how they coped during COVID. It was an exciting perspective to see how they work and manage everything in life. Kat is such an upbeat, positive, and inspiring soul.
The events continued all day. Each floor had something to do and something to learn about. It was such a collaborative effort for this team of people. They worked endlessly. The technology and the amount of talent that was in attendance was just incredible.
They also featured a TEAPOT RACING TOURNAMENT which was hosted by Doctor Gus. The teapot racing happened on Saturday and Sunday. It was fascinating to see.
The PATIO STAGE inside featured various bands and musicians including Kate the Chanticlaire, Serene & Salinas, Padawan Training, Michael Wesley Scott Band, and The Lehigh Valley Martial Arts, and Burn the Jukebox.
They had DIY WORKSHOPS that featured Kaleidoscope Enrichment, Teapot Driving School, Matlou Pyrography, MAKE Lehigh Valley, and OPEN Arts & Crafts.
I spoke with two wonderfully talented artists/musicians. Serene and Salinas, Coco Salinas and Serene Salinas. I heard Serene singing Singer/songwriter, Mariah Carey’s hit song “Make It Happen” so of course I had to go and check out the performance. They did such a beautiful performance. I spoke with them afterwards and I felt so much positivity coming from these two beautiful souls. It was like meeting two beaming lights. They also talked to me about the film they are making and starring in, Carmeside De Mariposa – they were kind enough to provide me with a beautiful poster.
On Sunday, I also talked with Artist -Designer, and Inventor Thomas Mann. He is an incredible artist. He also graduated from William Allen High School which is located in Allentown. www.thomasmann.com
I also met Angie Millan and Franklin Medrano from Actualidad Informativa TV. www.atualidadinformativatv.com
As the event was winding down it was time for the COSPLAY CONTEST that was hosted by The Eternal Frontier. Everyone had to check-in and get ready to show off all of the incredible cosplay ensembles they had picked out to wear to PA Steamfest.
So many people were just so excited. The crowds were having fun, people were happy. They got to see some things that may never see in everyday, daily life. Most of us are busy with work, life, family, friends, bills. People don’t always get to venture out. It was nice because people of all ages and it was such a family-friendly event. It was an event that everyone could participate in some way, shape or form.
PA Steamfest was an unforgettable event. It brought out people from all walks of life. Kat Mahoney’s vision is an extraordinary one. She wants to help and preserve everything that is wonderful and magical about the S.T.E.A.M. lifestyle. It was incredible seeing so many people dressed in such elaborate cosplay. There were so many positive events and conversations. People talking about mental health and how to preserve and save yourself from life stressors.
PA Steamfest 2021 was an unforgettable event. An event that brought people together and made you ask questions. The creators and Kat Mahoney are providing information for future generations too. It was awesome to be a part of PA Steamfest along with The Valley Ledger. It was great to meet so many talented, wonderful people. PA Steamfest, Kat Mahoney and her vision, her team and ArtsQuest worked so wonderfully.
Here is to next years PA Steamfest.
On Instagram: @pasteamfest “Festival of #Technology #Engineering #Art #Makers (STEAM) & #VideoGames in a #SteamPunk genre. Produced by @thegeekgrid21 and @artsquest_pa
The Eternal Frontier
Bruce Lish Dr. Molar Magic
The Wedding Funeral
Desert Mermaid Bellydance
Burn the Jukebox
Kate the Chanticlaire
Mt. Tabor ARTS Matilda Performance
501st Carada Garrison
Michael Wesley Scott Band
Lehigh Valley Martial Arts
Kutztown University Esports
Pure Heart Guitars
Mt Tabor Arts
Bloomsburg Children’s Museum
John Milleker Jr.
MAKE Lehigh Valley
More of the Vendors:
ServPro of Allentown WLC
Corsets & Cogs
Kadiddlehopper & Snerd
Twindle & Wysp
Button Geek Art
The Valley Ledger
Pure Heart Guitars
Madness & Misfits
Lisah Walden Author
Five Dogs Art
Fairy Fox Design
Gaia Game Gears
Skyfire Fox Arts
Green Mountain Energy