More importantly, it’s the site of a climactic battle between two of history’s most infamous scientists, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. Both men are fighting for their inventions, reputations and lives as bullets and zeppelins fly overhead à la the Old West.
The event is an interactive play combining vaudeville, steampunk, westerns, and old-fashioned shock-it-and-see-what-happens science. The town itself is the stage, and every bit of it is interactive and educational. Each building belongs to a real vendor or gadget builder. Every character, from the saloon owner to the fortune telling “Doc” Ravencraft, is committed to involving you in the story of Unobtainium and the time-bending debate taking place.
According to my conversation with Mr. Tesla himself, the town of Unobtainium is named for the mysterious glowing mineral field beneath its soil. The minerals have many properties, some of which involve transporting its inhabitants through time and space.
For example, one minute I was driving down a country road southeast of Austin. The next minute I was face-to-face with a giant Tesla coil waiting to erupt into a halo of lightning.
In an effort to outdo Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla built a monstrous coil in the middle of the town. He wanted to prove the superiority of his theories of alternating current over Edison’s direct current theory. Not only did Tesla’s coil erupt, but the whole town did as well.
Aside from the interactive science experiments, Unobtainium is home to many peculiar characters. The town is essentially divided between Team Edison and Team Tesla. Each team wants their specific candidate to win the climactic debate taking place at sunset, which will irrevocably determine the course of industry and history!
The two day long Showdown at Unobtainium is more than an academic debate to the scientists and their crews. It’s the final word on whom history will remember as a giant.
The night concludes with merrymaking, music and the final great debate. Men in monocles and ladies wielding laser rifles stop their fighting to participate in the revelries. Great Texas musicians like the Marquis de Vaudeville, Shakey Graves and Darwin Prophet are known to grace the stage of Unobtainium.
Preliminary studies tell us that Unobtainium is caught in a type of time warp. That’s good news for people who want to step into the steampunk world for a weekend. The historic and bloody debate is destined to repeat.
Tickets were very affordable for a weekend full of fun. VIP tickets were also available for extended access and refreshments. The event spanned over two days, with camping available for a minimal additional charge.
Check out Unobtainium’s website for more information on this past weekend’s event and others to come. Also, “like” Unobtainium on Facebook to stay in the know about this budding festival.
You’ve never been to a showdown quite like this one. Grab some tickets and catch the next steamer, hot air balloon or zeppelin out to Unobtainium when you can!
Cover photo via Flickr CC, courtesy of Jon Lebkowsky.