Oddities & Curiosities

Back in July, I saw a Facebook post from my cousin about something called the Oddities & Curiosities Expo.

The what?

Oddities Curiousities Expo

According to the official site:

For lovers of the strange and unusual…. The Chicago Oddities & Curiosities Expo showcases vendors with all things weird. Items such as: taxidermy, specimens, bones, unusual original artwork, curiosities, odd antiques and so much more. *All items have been acquired ethically.

My partner and me were curious enough to check it out as it rolled through the Odeum Expo Center in Villa Park. The building was built in 1981, but somehow felt older.

The location was set up like a standard convention. Rows and rows of tables with plenty of artists and vendors competing for attention.

It also had a giveaway raffle. Usually you pay a few bucks for the chance to win a trip. But the raffle at the Curiosities Expo was for a bear skull.

As we explored the venue, we saw our fair share of the strange and unusual. Surreal paintings, bizarre sculptures, mowhawks, purple hair, body piercings, tattoos, plants in turtle shell pots, elaborate outfits, specimens in bottles and bone jewelry.

You could get your head “in a jar” for $37.

I’m not really sure where I fit in, because I don’t have any tattoos, piercings or an identifiable sense of style. Most of my fashion choices are assembled from free t-shirts from charity events, zoos and birthdays.

It was tempting to take pictures of everything. “LoooOooOok at ALL thiS crAzY sTuFF!” Like the girl rolling around on a scooter with the fur of a dead coyote slung over her shoulder.

But then I saw a sign on an artist’s table. “No photography.” I scanned the crowd and realized very few people had their phones out. And then it hit me. For most of the visitors this event wasn’t weird. It was normal. I was the weird one. I was the outsider. I was the gawker.

We took a break and had a seat in the stands of what looked like a roller-rink. A performance began on a small stage. A guy dislocated his shoulders and jumped rope with his arms. A girl stuck a needle through both of her cheeks. Ok, that was enough entertainment for me. Thank you!

We got up and took another walk around. Steampunk sculptures. Taxidermy butterfly art. A giant ball of human hair.

They were snipping people’s hair and adding it to the giant clumpy collection. I kind of wonder what it smelled like. Even though the worker dipped the clippers in cleansing solution, I couldn’t stop thinking about lice.

It was an incredibly unique experience, but afterward I still wanted to wash my hands.

Some of Our Favorite Vendors:

Kaitlin Ziesmer

Prints, paintings, pins and more.

Doug Mansfield

Posters, paintings and more.

Batty Boutique

Creepy and cute accessories and décor.

Death Couture

Bone jewelry & oddities décor.

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