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Not just a side dish

The Sideshow Gathering celebrates carny culture

The word “sideshow” insinuates something that isn’t the main attraction. An afterthought, even. But the Sideshow Gathering, which is part of the Inkin’ the Valley tattoo convention, is anything but.

In the ninth year of the convention, Franco Kossa decided to add the Sideshow Gathering as something to entertain convention attendees that were waiting for friends to get tattooed.

“One of the most heard questions at conventions is, ‘What are we going to do while we wait?,’” said event organizer Kim Kossa.

Kim said Franco got the idea after meeting sideshow guru Ward Hall at the Bloomsburg Fair. The Sideshow Gathering, now in its ninth year, is the first and only such convention in the country, and quite possibly, the world.

“I’ve searched for others many times, asked people in the industry and haven’t found another,” Kim said.

The marriage between Inkin’ the Valley and the Sideshow Gathering, she explained, has a historical connection, too.

“At one point, tattooists and the tattooed were oddities,” Kim said. “Tattooed ladies and men were one of the biggest attractions. Imagine getting paid just for getting tattooed.”

The event, she added, also provides a rare opportunity for touring sideshow companies to spend some time together.

“It gives the performers a place to meet, discuss their trade and practice their craft among their peers,” Kim said. “That doesn’t happen often, because they are always on the road working different shows.”

Admission to the Sideshow Gathering is included with tickets to Inkin’ the Valley. The Weekender is a sponsor of the 16th annual Inkin’ the Valley and eighth annual Sideshow Gathering, which will be held Friday, Nov. 6, Saturday, Nov. 7 and Sunday, Nov. 8 at The Woodlands.

Scheduled to appear at the Sideshow Gathering are: The Lucky Daredevil Thrillshow, Zamora The Torture King, Doc Wilson, The Crispy Family, John Shaw, The Knotty Bits Sideshow, The Magic of Steve Hyde and Melanie, Pat Ward, Col. Hunsley’s Freaks and Oddities, Professor Fountain, Shocked and Amazed, Cinda The Sign Queen, Odd Bob Blackmar, Rob Houston, sideshow banners by Toni-Lee Sangastiano.

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Info: thesideshowgathering.com

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