Arts Watch: Oddities and Curiosities Expo

Published 4:40 pm Friday, March 1, 2024

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One of the most interesting afternoons I have spent recently was a trip to the Louisville Exposition Center to see the Oddities and Curiosities Expo. Curiosities included a goat’s heart in formaldehyde and a wide variety of furs—fox, mink, coyote—sometimes dyed outrageous shades of blue, red, and more. There were all sorts of other animals, sometimes stuffed, sometimes skeletonized, but none alive. The most unusual of those was a giraffe that towered over six feet-plus me.

The oddities we saw tended more toward the human side. Just inside the door, we saw our first one: a woman who had horns on her head—curling up like a ram’s horns—black hair, slicked down, her face painted in red and black grease paint, dressed all in black; I suppose she was meant to be a ‘devil’ or other mythical creature. But what I wondered about most was how she could tolerate that makeup for an afternoon.

As we wandered through the displays and crowds, at times it was hard to move, though the area seemed at least as big as the GRC football field. We saw more t-shirts with strange and wondrous creatures on them than we did those of The North Face or even UK or U of L athletic wear. In fact, I think the most interesting aspect of the event for both my wife and I was the people—all shapes, sizes, colors, ethnicities, and brimming over with eccentricities.

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The event was a large market where stickers of various sorts were priced from a dime up and a giraffe was $4,000! Whatever you wanted, you could find. There were hours-long taxidermy (rats) and entomology (bug pinning) classes for $225 and $150, respectively. But mostly the event was a celebration of commerce (books, candy, food, t-shirts, animal furs and skins, animal skulls (some painted, many not). Most certainly, the taxidermy on display was often amazingly artistic and always interesting.

Admission started at $11.25. At first, I was shocked to be asked to pay admission to spend my money. On the other hand, both the people and the oddities we saw were amazing and worth the money spent.

I grew up hunting and fishing. As an adult I do not know how many times I attended gun and knife shows at Rupp Arena and elsewhere. But I had never before been to see the art that happens after the hunting, fishing, and eating are done, resulting from skilled taxidermists creating art destined for the den wall instead of the stomach and small intestines.

The Oddities and Curiosities Expo is a traveling event. In April, expos will be held in Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. The Expo also visits Atlanta, Charlotte, Phoenix, Chicago, and St. Louis. For the complete schedule of Expo sites, visit for more information.

Bill McCann is author of God Hires Gardeners and has been nominated for the 2025 Grawemeyer Award in Religion. He can be reached at