The Oddities & Curiosities Expo Kept it Spooky

by | Aug 19, 2021 | ART

Laden with intriguing curiosities, spooky art, sideshows, taxidermy classes, and even some damn good coffee, the Oddities & Curiosities Expo made its inaugural visit to Richmond last weekend a memorably spooky experience for everyone.

Taxidermied possums, cutesy Satan keychains, and Ghostbusters, oh my! This past Saturday, The Oddities & Curiosities Expo, founded by Michelle and Tony Cozzaglio, made its inaugural visit to the River City. From 10am until 6pm at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, fans of the spooky, the bizarre, the macabre, and the just plain weird could come together to celebrate all things, well, odd. 

Many booths were set up across the exhibit hall featuring various DIY wares such as jewelry, illustrations, art, taxidermied animals, bottled specimens, and — believe it or not — coffee. Really damn good coffee. 

Everyone in the exhibit hall came to find various things such as new furniture for their homes and creepy prints, or to be entertained by the sideshow performance that ran for most of the event. However, the most common feeling among vendors, offered with a sigh of relief, was that they were just happy to be working again. 

“I’m just happy to be back to work,” said Wendy Gaul, artist and owner of Etched in Embers. “I love traveling and one of my favorite things is road trips. My favorite thing is finding local eateries and cemeteries. ”

Of the most unique booths was a coffee company, of all things. Based in Pittsburgh, PA, Black Forge Coffee kept the attendees caffeinated with delicious blends such as Lightbearer and a roast made for the event, appropriately named Good Mourning.  

“This is my first year with the expo,” said Ashley Corts, owner of Black Forge Coffee. “I have two locations back home in Pittsburgh, PA. I wanted to raise money for music venues, so I made specific coffee to raise money for music venues while I travel. [The expo] picked me up, and they have been really awesome to work with. ”

WIthout question, the most talked about event was the taxidermy class, taught by Heather Clark, owner of Sleeping Sirens. Students spent six hours, with a break, learning the basics of taxidermy with a seasoned veteran, and were able to leave the event with their own jackalope. 

“[Jackalopes] are really good to start with,” said Clark. “Everyone starts with all of the supplies that they can find in a craft store, and they can graduate from there. This is how I started as well, eight years ago in a setting just like this.”

Students were also able to get hands-on help during the class as they learned the ropes. Clark already had students vowing to return to next year’s class (featuring a two-headed duck), which will provide the basics, along with new skills working with a different species. 

“Jackalopes are fun, but you do get real taxidermy knowledge, a real scope of things and how it works.” said Clark. “We’re doing birds next year, and everything is a little different. Over the next few years I’d like to introduce all sorts of different things for students to learn.”

The event stayed busy throughout the day, with guests commenting as they exited about how exciting it was. Plans are already made to hopefully have Richmond on the tour again next year (COVID notwithstanding), and Richmond will be more than happy to house the Goth Circus in town anytime they desire. Until next year – keep it spooky, Richmond.

Photos by Ash Griffith

Ash Griffith

Ash Griffith

Ash is a writer and improviser from Richmond. She has a BA in English from VCU and an associates in Theater. When she isn't writing or screaming on a stage, she can usually be found wherever the coffee is. Bill Murray is her favorite person along with her black cat, Bruce.

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