Taxidermy tarantulas. Sword swallowers. Shrunken heads on stakes. Those are just a very small sliver of the extraordinary, outlandish, and occasionally grotesque things you’ll find if you’re brave enough to attend the Columbus Oddities and Curiosities Expo on Saturday May 12. Essentially a giant freakish flea market, this is a one-stop shop if you want to transform your dorm room into a miniature haunted mansion.
1870 Mag spoke with founder Michelle Cozzaglio about her journey through the twisted world of bizarre bric-a-brac, and what kind of weird shit you can expect to see, if you dare make the trip…
You’re based in Tulsa, OK but take your event around the country to share the experience with fellow weirdos. How did you get started?
We’ve been organizing an event called the “Punk Rock Flea Market” in our area for a few years now and always had a few ‘oddities’ vendors mixed in with the typical music related vendors. The Oddities event idea really just came from thinking it would be fun to have an event focused only on the strange and unusual. There was nothing like this in our area!
My husband and I had our first Oddities & Curiosities Expo summer 2017. We ended up having two in 2017, one in Tulsa, OK and one in Denver, CO. Our goal for 2018 was to expand to more cities in the Midwest area, little did we know how popular this event would become and how many people were interested in being involved.
It’s a pretty unique event to say the least. What can people expect to see at the show?
Taxidermy, wet specimens, animal bones/skulls, human bones/skulls, unusual original artwork, jewelry made with bones/insects, antique medical supplies, weird antiques, curiosities, framed insects, and much much more. We book a little bit of everything, we have items for the serious oddities collector, and we have items for people who are just into weird stuff. There’s something for everyone.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen come through one of the expos?
That’s a hard one. Vendors bring in all kinds of weird stuff! Probably not the weirdest item, but at our Kansas City Expo we had a vendor selling used caskets. It was hilarious to see my husband help this normal looking family load a huge old casket into the back of their truck. I would have loved to see the looks from drivers on the highway!
Have you ever had to turn down a vendor because something was too… intense?
I assume your house in Oklahoma is amazing, what is your favorite item from your personal collection?
That’s also a hard one! Its a tie between my mounted shark’s spine and a preserved squid. The squid is in the most beautiful Victorian style jar, it’s an amazing piece!
There will also be a variety of sideshow acts going on throughout the event, what can you tell me about those?
We will have a few different acts throughout the day. You can expect to see classic sideshow stunts like sword swallowing, feats of strength, glass walking, human pincushion, bed of nails, machete tricks and much, much more.
What is your favorite part about running the show?
My favorite part is bringing like-minded people together. I take the time to stop at every vendor’s booth throughout the event and check on them, talk with them and a lot of the times even purchase something from them!
You’ve hosted events all over the country in major cities like Chicago, New Orleans, and Denver. Why did you choose Columbus as one of your sites?
I’ve honestly never even been to Ohio! We had a lot of people posting on our page to come there with our event. I did a little research and decided to give it a shot! So far we expect a very large attendance, and we get to explore Columbus! Its a win-win.
The Columbus Oddities and Curiosities Expo will be held Saturday May 12 in the Lauche Building at the Ohio Expo Center, 717 E. 17th Ave. It runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and tickets are just $10 at the door.