For a little over a year now, since the last Comic Con, I've been running the Steampunks and Dieselpunks of the Antelope Valley. Basically having "Steampunk Saturday Night" social events, and doing things with the local Toy Soldiers, as a large number of members are also Toy Soldiers.
This year was our second joint day at the Antelope Valley Fair. To the AV Steampunks it was "Steampunk Saturday Night at the Fair", Toy Soldiers called it "Operation Hayseed."
I know our locals can be very ignorant and provincial, so, as last year, I told everyone who would be coming to keep it very low key. Talk to people if they asked who you were, and hand them a business card or sticker with a url on it if they wanted more information, but nothing more. We would of course stand out, but we wanted to be very clear that we didn't want any trouble.
So, we went. Shortly after entering the fair and entering one of the air-conditioned buildings (ahhhh!), a little paraplegic girl in a wheelchair approached us and asked who we were and what we were about, and if we had more information or a website. So I handed her a sticker with the URL on it (kids prefer stickers to business cards). Immediately we were descended upon by security and sheriff and escorted from the building, and after a brief detention, we were ejected from the park for "unauthorized solicitation" and told that if we returned we would be arrested for trespassing.
But the story doesn't end there. All of that commotion (half a dozen security and more than a dozen sheriff officers surrounding us) drew a lot of attention, and someone started taking photographs. That someone followed us out of the park and introduced herself as an editor for the local AV Press; they will likely be running a story about our ejection from the park, who we were and what we were doing there. I did a very favorable interview with an editor there earlier today and was told I'd probably be contacted again by a reporter.
It's also been suggested to me that it might be a very good idea to show up at the next AV Fair Board meeting and speak. I am contemplating that option now, and our Press contact said to make sure she was informed if we did. If I decide we should, I would like as many Toy Soldiers and Steampunks as possible to come in a show of respectful support. The date of that meeting is Thursday, September 23rd at 5:00pm, at at 2551 West Avenue H in Lancaster; I will keep everyone posted if I decide to proceed with this so everyone who is able can plan to attend. But currently I'm leaning strongly toward it. "They want to be clowns? I'll bring the circus!"
Stay tuned for updates!