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Handcar races back on track

  • (From left) Jamie Smith, Tara Fluitt, and her husband Daniel, compete with team MOG, representing Museum on-the-Go, during the handcar races at Wunderkammer at Railroad Square in Santa Rosa, California on Sunday, August 25, 2013. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

This year's Wunderkammer featured a wider array of music and kids' activities than in the past. A cyclone fence encircled the festival area, keeping out those who had not paid the $10 entry fee.

"It's a little different this year, being all closed in," said Steve Squire of Cloverdale, who brought one of his reconstructed "tall bikes." "But there's more people in costumes than before."

From 2008 to 2011, the Great Handcar Regatta grew so popular that organizers had to start charging for it, to limit the crowds.

Wunderkammer 2013

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With a new partner and a new focus on the arts and music, Jones hopes to build Wunderkammer into a music and arts festival similar to Bumbershoot in Seattle.

Next year, Jones said he plans to keep the music and art portion of the festival in Santa Rosa while sending the handcar races to Healdsburg. Members of both the Santa Rosa and Healdsburg city councils attended Sunday's festival, Jones said.

Artist Nicole Peterson, who was selling handmade steampunk jewelry in a booth, said she was surprised at the mixture of people and costumes at the event.

"They all have something creative up their sleeve," she said. "There are some people trying to outdo what they did before."

Abby Powers of Santa Rosa, who came to see her science teacher's handcar, dressed in a corduroy jacket she found in San Francisco, with hat, boots and walking stick purchased online. She completed her outfit with a parasol and a necklace she bought at the event.

Jazz and Penelope McGee of Sebastopol were both dressed in vintage "explorer" style with whimsical backpacks and lots of brass collectibles.

Jazz McGee, who is an ordained minister, said he performed a wedding for some friends at the festival, marking his first "steampunk wedding."


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