Things To Do

First Friday

Held on the first Friday of each month (5–8pm), this recurring local cultural and social event showcases the visual arts and artists in our downtown area, plus promotions at individual businesses who extend their hours of operation. During the warmer months, outside entertainers from musicians to jugglers and even fire blowers are brought in to enhance the downtown experience.


TeslaCoil Demonstration & Kick-off event

Our most popular attraction from 2018 is back!

What it is: Tesla coils are named after their inventor, Nikola Tesla, who improved on a number of existing ideas to create high-frequency high-voltage electricity. This particular coil stands roughly 7′ tall, with all of the major components except the capacitor bank similar to what Tesla would have used in the 1890’s.

Under ideal conditions, this coil has produced 12 to 15 foot long arcs. Planned demonstrations include multiple 20–30 second displays of electrical power. Please note that weather and wind (and occasionally temperamental gadgetry) can affect the performance. We shall hope for the best!

Demonstration to be held on top of the Monroe/Market parking deck, kicking off the festival weekend in rare style!

Carnival Epsilon

This madcap troupe of performers combines suspense and daring with bits of magic and mirth to create their horrifyingly hilarious and nationally-traveled steampunk sideshow. It’s an unforgettable show where tongues take on mousetraps, chainsaws tear through apples, machetes mimic staircases, lightbulbs become lunch, and much more!

Catch snippets of their performance as they busk around the downtown streets, or see them perform at the Sideshow Soiree (Friday night ticketed dinner) and their public performance on the Jefferson St. main stage on Saturday.


Sideshow Soiree

*Ticketed Event*

Wind up your gears! Enjoy appetizers in the industrial-chic setting of Reality of Monroe while you meet new people and party like it’s 1899! Enjoy steampunk music by our DJ, plus you’ll see the premier 45-minute feature performance by Carnival Epsilon — the official Cogs & Corsets roving entertainers for the weekend. This madcap group combines suspense and daring with bits of magic and mirth to create their horrifyingly hilarious and nationally-traveled steampunk sideshow. Steampunk attire isn’t required, but your ID is.  Must be 21+ to attend.

Tintype Portraiture by Daniel Leocadi

Book your sitting (recommended) here

Wet plate collodion photography is an early form of photography from the 1850s, a process that was discovered by Frederick Scott Archer in the UK. This process of alchemy uses silver and takes about fifteen minutes to take a photograph that is created on glass or metal. In order for the process to work, the material must stay wet. Photographer Daniel Leocadi captures your Steampunk persona’s otherworldly essence, with a period camera and processing techniques. The result will be a gorgeous tintype that will last 100 years and beyond! Signups for your sitting can be made at the event, but we definitely recommend nabbing your spot early. Pricing varies by photo size. See examples at

Photo Op Area

Have your photo taken by professional photographers in front of our special backdrop. A perfect way to commemorate your first Cogs & Corsets event! Photos printed while you wait. $5, cash and carry.

Promenade on the Square

Once again, we’ll be launching Saturday’s fun with a promenade around the historic Museum square during our renowned Farmer’s Market. Because what’s the point of dressing up if not to show it off! We’ll gather at the entrance of the McLean County History Museum for a jaunt across the lawn for all to see.

Lady Erika Jarden’s Tea Room

Sponsor: Beezer Family Honey

Arguably THE place to see and be seen! Relax in style in Lady Erika Jarden’s tea room, located in the restored 1903 courthouse of the Museum of History. Enjoy selections of fortifying tea, biscuits, and your delightful hostess, famed Lady Erika herself. Purchase your Tea Room pass ($5) online, on-site at the registration booth, or inside the Museum of History (cash only) for open access to three fortifying rounds of tea and biscuits during the festival.

David Davis Mansion ‘Mechanical’ Tour

*Ticketed Event*

The David Davis Mansion is a model of mid-Victorian style and taste. Known as Clover Lawn, it was the home of David Davis, the friend, mentor and campaign manager for Abraham Lincoln. This tour is custom-designed for Cogs & Corsets attendees and will highlight the mechanicals and gadgets of this 1872 mansion. Elegant furnishings and architectural features abound, but it also had the most modern technological conveniences of the era: indoor plumbing, hot and cold running water, a central furnace, the most up-to-date gas lighting, and two modern communication systems. Choose one of two available tour times.


Vrooman Mansion High Tea — Chicago World’s Fair Edition!

*Ticketed Event*

Truly a not-to-be-missed event! The famous Tea Ladies will bring history to life as they serve a selection of tea and scrumptious nibbles in the lovely parlor of the Vrooman Mansion. You’ll experience their special presentation on the 1893 Chicago’s World Fair (with special attention to the activities of Nikola Tesla) and also a first floor tour of this impressive 1869 mansion turned Bed & Breakfast. Discover the history of the influential families that lived here, and take advantage of the endless photo opps in this beautiful period home. Two seating times available. Limited to 40 General Admission tickets per seating.

‘Metal Murder’ Mystery & Dinner

*Ticketed Event*

Dinner guests will find themselves transported back to England in 1898. Here they will learn about the heroism and tragedy that occurred during the Great Zeppelin War of 1892 and also discover the events that led to the untimely death of an eminent scientist, Professor R. U. Shure! Each person in attendance will assume a character for the evening and be given information about themselves and others present. They will meet Professor Shure’s assistant, Algy Brahe, and his spiritualist, the enigmatic Claire Voyant. But they must be on their guard, for somewhere among the people present a murderer is lurking. It is in their best interest to solve the crime to prevent more people from dying, but, can they do it? Can they sort through the clues and red herrings and find out the truth? Prizes and fun abound! This event is performed by the Saint Louis Mystery Company. Two seatings available. Limited to 45 general admission tickets per seating.


Vrooman Mansion Sunday Brunch

*Ticketed Event*

End your Cogs & Corsets weekend with an elegant plated brunch in the Parlor, Foyer and Music Rooms of this historic 1869 mansion. While this year’s menu is still being finalized, last year featured a variety of baked goods and a fresh seasonal fruit cup, followed by the entrée of quiche, with crepes filled with a mascarpone cheese filling and topped with fresh mixed berry sauce and a side of bacon & sausage. Iced water, orange juice, coffee & tea available for beverages. Limited to 26 general admission tickets.


Costume Contest

Show off your Steampunk finery and fashion sense in our costume contest. Prizes awarded for several categories plus crowd favorite! Please see our rules here. Entry form is available here or on-site at the Registration booth.

Makers’ Faire

It’s time to tap into your creative genius or latent mad scientist inner self! Registration forms are available here or at the Registration booth at the festival.

Beard & Mustache Competition

New for 2018! Are you wearing a winning entry on your face? Whether you twirl it like a villain or let it reach awesome lengths, show off your best bearded/mustachioed persona, and win prizes and bragging rights. And if you currently don’t have a beard or mustache, what are you waiting for? Stop shaving and get in the game!


Splendid Teapot Racing

A competition like no other! Build your own creative Teapot Racer from a teapot and an RC chassis, then turn it loose on our obstacle course for a timed run through the Ramp of Doom, Tunnel of Terror, and other hazards. Awards for achievements great and small! Please see rules and Teapot Racer guidelines here.