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The Wild Mendohoulas!

Something Old, Something New:

Willits Kinetic Carnivale Offers Whimsical Weekend For All Ages

Magical Music & Theatre Acts Create Atmosphere

Mendocino County Museum’s 3rd Annual Willits Kinetic Carnivale gathers a full head of steam on August 9th and 10th with a full weekend of activities combining the old and new in a way that is uniquely Mendocino.

This highly-anticipated kinetic and steampunk festival returns with many favorites, including the handcar races at the Skunk Train Depot, where creatively designed vehicles on paired tracks compete for prizes for beauty, ingenuity, and speed; the Whimsy Circus, where children can swing on a giant bed and enjoy jugglers, games, crafts, and performances; and the evening spectacular known as the Grand Ball. New this year are a crowd-judged contest for steampunk guilds, with each guild presiding over a decorated booth space and interacting with the crowd according to their personas, as well as a steampunk art show.

Visitors are encouraged (but never required) to attend in vintage or steampunk costumes, and during the day will experience myriad activities and enjoy a diverse group of craft and food vendors. The Carnivale will feature daily entertainment from bands near and far, with performance artist and self-proclaimed steampunk and airship captain Poplock Holmes presiding as Master of Ceremonies. Also on offer will be rides in unique vehicles, and sundry Museum exhibits such as the Victorian Sweat Shop, featuring vintage sewing machines. Historical workshops and lectures will include a visit from Matilda Bancroft, wife of the founder and contributor to the Bancroft Library on California history.

Music will flow throughout the weekend of the Carnivale, from the daytime Fair to the Grand Ball. Saturday at the Fair includes lively local favorites Redbud Trio, the irresistibly danceable Funkacillin, inspirational spoken word performance from Sweet Beat Petite, and more. Sunday's fair will bring the New Orleans rhythm and blues of the Wild Mendohoulas, Portland punk and folk from Insomniac Folklore, belly dance from Diana Peart, and others.

The Wild Mendohoulas
The Wild Mendohoulas

At 7pm on Saturday, the Kinetic Carnivale Grand Ball will kick off at the Museum’s Engine House, an annually sold-out event that abounds with guests in fantastical costumes. The lineup includes the Big Band style of Lee Presson and The Nails, the wildly eclectic sounds of the Church Marching Band, and electro swing DJ music from Stride Ironbender. Interspersed with the music will be magical and light-filled performance art from the Luminesque Fire Troupe, Periko Circus Express, Troupe Satya, and more. Billy Heatherington and Bryan Arnold will once again MC the show. A demonstration of a Tesla Coil will be the piece de resistance of a memorable evening.

A new addition to the Grand Ball festivities is the exclusive Corliss Society VIP Lounge. This luxuriously furnished area will be a place for rest and rejuvenation. VIP guests will be treated to gourmet hors d’oeuvres, complimentary beer and wine, special vaudeville entertainment, mystical games and oracles, and more. Entry into the VIP Corliss Society is $100, which includes Grand Ball admission.

The Carnivale will conclude Sunday afternoon with the handcar awards presentation and closing musical performance by The Crux.

Mendocino County Museum’s Kinetic Carnivale takes place Saturday, August 9, 10 am to 7 pm and Sunday, August 10, 10 am to 4 pm at Recreation Grove Park across from the Museum at 400 East Commercial Street in Willits. Admission is $10 per day for adults, $5 for youth (13-18 years) and seniors (65+ years), and free for kids 12 and under. This includes entry to the Museum, as well as the Carnivale and handcar races. Advance tickets to the Grand Ball are $35 per ticket and $60 for a pair of tickets, and $40 per ticket purchased on Saturday. Youth tickets for the Grand Ball (ages 13-18) are $20 in advance and $25 on Saturday. All event proceeds help fund Mendocino County Museum exhibits as well as artifact conservation, and educational programs.

For more information, please visit, find it on Facebook at, or email The Kinetic Carnivale is produced by the Mendocino County Museum, located at 400 East Commercial St. in Willits and can be reached at (707) 459-2736 or online at

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