California Knows How To Party Mad Max Style With Wasteland Weekend, And It’s Still Going Strong

By Will LeBlanc | Published

If you thought your friend Jerry, who can do three-minute keg stands, knows how to throw a party, think again. Until he’s inviting 700 people to cosplay in scrap armor and mohawked helmets, then Jerry can’t even hold a candle to Wasteland Weekend, an annual three-day post-apocalypse fest held in California to celebrate the triumphs of Mad Max and the Thunderdome.

The event has in the past featured standard fare for what you’d expect out of an homage to the great Australian series–mock bloodsports, amazing and horrible attempts at emulating the traditional “scrap metal strapped to you” armor getups from the films, loud-ass music, and two chaps even showed up with their Mad Max mobiles, 1973 Australian Ford Falcon XB GT “Interceptors”, the ultimate homage to the classic character that made Mel Gibson famous.

Here’s their latest promo to give you a taste of what sort of madness they have going on…

Wired caught up with a few people at one of the annual events, including Wasteland Weekend creator Karol Bartoszynski, whose first Mad Max event was Roadwar, a convoy of tricked-out Mad Max vehicles led by an intimidating tanker truck up California’s west coast on Highway 101. This spawned copycats in Texas and Washington, but the enthusiasm grew into what is now an annual event in the Southern California desert. Bartoszynski says:

That’s really where a Mad Max event belongs. People just really want to go out there and live it. You know, eat the dog food and everything.

As it’s not really smart to go out for a fun weekend and eat dog food, Wasteland Weekend had plenty of barbecue to go around, and drinks were not in short supply. Aside from food and bloodsport, vendors sold their custom-made weaponry to each other, but thankfully, no loss of limb was recorded during the event.

This isn’t just a hole in the desert, either. Wasteland Weekend hires a team of set designers led by Adam Chilson to recreate the world Mad Max created in 1979. And though the authenticity is top-notch, the weekend is there for people who love the films, not to be a battle for gas and food. Chilson had this to say about the attendants:

You come out here to a gathering that celebrates the end of civilization as we know it, and yet you come away from it having worked with people that you’d share a trench with; some of the coolest people in the world. It makes you think that maybe there is still some hope for humanity.

You wouldn’t think that going to an event celebrating the end of humanity would actually breed friendships, but as proven by events like Comic Con and even, strangely enough the Gathering of the Juggalos, putting a bunch of people with similar interests in the same place can create relationships that last forever.

If you’re interested in getting in on Wasteland Weekend, keep an eye on their website for details about next year’s event. It’s still going strong and if you’re lucky, maybe you can even become an official War Boy.