Inkin’ the Valley

When the Annual Inkin’ the Valley tattoo convention comes to town, it brings along some real sideshow freaks – the kind who walk on glass, swallow swords and eat light bulbs. But that’s because for the past nine years, the tattoo convention has been holding various sideshow performances, known as the Sideshow Gathering, to generate excitement during downtime between inkings.

"Tattooed people have been exhibits forever," founder Franco Kossa once said. "Sideshow history and tattoo history are conjoined." This year, the 10th Annual Sideshow Gathering is carrying on despite the passing of Kossa.

"Franco’s ashes will preside over the event, and patrons will have a unique opportunity on Friday night to ‘visit’ with them," said contributing artist and friend, James Mundie. "I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s perfect for this event, and Franco would have loved it."

This year’s event promises to be the best event yet, as a group of performers will attempt to break a world record for the largest simultaneous ten-in-one sideshow. Other performers include Coney Island Chris (seen on America’s Got Talent); Philadelphia’s Olde City Sideshow featuring Danny Borneo, Martin Ling the Suicide King, Reggie Bügmüncher, and GiGi Holliday; professional lunatic, Harley Newman; Cheeky Monkey Sideshow, featuring Swami Yomahmi, Sally the Cinch, Mab Just Mab and Cherríe Sweetbottom; and much more.

Sideshow vendors will display genuine freak animals, memorabilia, rare books and original show banners.

The 18th Annual Inkin’ The Valley tattoo convention will open at The Woodlands Inn & Resort, Wilkes-Barre, at 3 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4, with the Sideshow Gathering performances beginning at 5 p.m. The convention floor opens at noon on Saturday with performances from 3 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight, followed by a special auction of original art and rare carnival and circus items. On Sunday, there will be encore performances from 2 to 5 p.m. Admission for the entire weekend is $15.

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